BLOG: To Become Visible

Memory
  • Drift Remote: Princesses, Power, Petroglyphs

    Living means leaving traces.   Walter Benjamin [1]

    This is why the imaginary and the real must be, rather, like two juxtaposable or superimposable parts of a single trajectory, two faces that ceaselessly interchange with one another, a mobile mirror.   Gilles Deleuze [2]

    Do not clean off dust specks, they are real.    Benoit Mandelbrot [3]

    Rock art search/re/search and plain walking in remote places becomes a drift as traces animate fragmenting juxtapositions. (Album: Northwest Nevada Drift)

    DO NOT RELEASE OUTDOORS OR NEAR ELECTRIC POWER LINES — MAY CAUSE POWER OUTAGES reads the warning on the Disney Princesses Mylar balloon tangled in the brush rim-edge. Where from?  Why here?  Here: 1/3 mile from the Pacific Intertie powerline conveying high-voltage direct current — electricity without interruption — from the Columbia River’s Dalles Dam to Los Angeles. The LA converter station is less than 20 miles from Disney’s Animation Studio in Burbank.  Standing on the rim with petroglyphs below I can see the towers and hear the hum of electrified hydropower flowing south. Power that supplies nearly 50% of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power electrical system's peak capacity; enough to serve 2-3 million LA households.  

    Petroglyphs, fur, bones, stones, glass, Mylar (aluminized plastic) — agency is diffuse.  Rock art search/re/search becomes a lost and found endeavor: the fizzle of classification, the thickening of lattice.  Vibrant material-realities illuminate evidence; a montage where meanings fold and unfold. Memory, the past in/of the now, curates an equivalence called future. The Princesses touched down in a graceful re-entry with no wish to blow LA’s fuses. 
    [1] Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism. Verso Books 1997.
    [2] Gilles Deleuze. Essays Critical and Clinical, trans. Daniel D. Smith and Michael A. Greco. 1997.
    [3] Benoit Mandelbrot. Fractals and Chaos: The Mandelbrot Set and beyond. 2004.

  • The earth carries it forward

    Humans leave their mark, and the earth carries it forward as an archive.
    Jussi Parikka [1]

                … touching
    
notes from everything, here where

    mind leaves fresh prints on archives,

    whispers tracks onto slabs and

    bedrock to bloom again and again,

    here where is emptiness, the way

    a shrine is important for what’s

    not there …

    - from The Underworld, a poem by Brian Swann [2]

    What does archive indicate?  A record, a fossil, an idea-imprint?  The beauty of the above sentence lies herein: the earth carries it forward. Recalling, the deep time of the archive already encompassing the pastness of the stone: its volcanic origin, its erosion, its glow.  Human leavings accumulate, accrete, and transform into a post-human era.  An unhuman. Faint signals emanate from the stone, indeed, of the stone.

    In the example pictured in the Mark-Archive study we follow recent markings; look into what we are fortunate to see this season in the sun.  And imagine with the carrying forward.   Where and when does this marked-stone-as-archive leave humans?  Again, Jussi Parikka:  The memory of a rock is of different temporal order to that of the human social one.

    [1] Jussi Parikka. A Geology of Media (2015). University of Minnesota Press.
    [2]  Brian Swann. St. Francis and the Flies (2016).  Autumn House Press.
    The poem The Underworld at https://theamericanscholar.org/the-underworld/

  • What is an Image?

    My aim is to open for inquiry the ways our “theoretical" understanding of imagery grounds itself in social and cultural practices, and in a history fundamental to our understanding, not only of what images are, but of what human nature is or might become. W. J. T. Mitchell, in What Is an Image? [1]

    This canyon’s walls display layers of discrete images, applied over time with varying intents and purposes. Together these meld as image-field, a unified whole, yet ever threatening to disburse. These digital photographs frame a portion of the wall as interpretation, as re-presentation. Now virtual, these images “present themselves as what they are, images, not the transportable and compact form of a reality that is already inaccessible.” as Chris Marker reminds us.

    Marker continues: “Images never say what they are, but always claim to be what they are not. Image is a fiction, a future recreation of a present moment which was real, but which is no longer nor will it ever be, and this is due to the mere fact of its differed interpretation, its semantic position.” [2]  This question - What is an Image - queries the power of imagery. For centuries a religious, historical and political force, this question and its mirroring - the imagery of power - continue to compel understanding.

    For rock art, and landscape archaeology in general, ours is an era wherein we will view and “see” many more virtual rock art images than we will observe in person, in situ. As digital visualization of inscription, artifact, and monument continue to expand with 3D scanning, color and chemical sensing, remote and laser color sensing, and ground-penetrating radar, what is real, true, actual, fold seamlessly into virtual. Layering dimensions of an image-field as we re-enter the canyon walls.[3]

    [1] W. J. T. Mitchell, What Is an Image? (1984) New Literary History, Vol. 15, No. 3.
    http://users.clas.ufl.edu/sdobrin/WJTMitchell_whatisanimage.pdf
    Mitchell, a leading theorist on the image, is included in James Elkins’s edited volume What is an image? (2011).  Recommended: The Domain of Images (1999), James Elkins.
    [2] With a DVD of his 1996 film Level 5, Marker, a French filmmaker and installation artist, included an essay titled In Search of Lost Memory from which these excerpts are extracted … as images.
    [3] Located in western Nevada. Also: http://rockartoregon.com/nevada-petroglyphs

  • Solstice Summer 2018

    Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson, Circles (Essay, 1841)

  • Solstice Rising

    A counting?  A recounting?  Memory potential resides in the power (agency) of the image. Perhaps.  Those days, now these. Hopeful, accidental.  Image:  White River Narrows Nevada 2017