Author: IVC Editorial Board

The Archive of the Future / The Future of the Archive: Introduction

Issue 12: The Archive of the Future / The Future of the Archive (Spring 2008) Aubrey Anable, Aviva Dove-Viebahn, and April Miller [T]he question of the archive is not, I repeat, a question of the past…but rather a question of the future, the very question of the future, question of a response, of a promise and of a responsibility for tomorrow. The archive: if we want to know what this will have meant, we will only know tomorrow.1 In his study on the power and politics of the archive, Archive Fever, Jacques Derrida outlines the aporetic desire that defines the archive, describing it as an illness that strives to reconcile the will to safeguard significant documents in human history with the wish to share those documents with others. For many academics, researchers, and students, archives used to be and still are contentious ground, guarded tightly by the archivist/gatekeeper whose relationship with the material is very different than that of the researcher. The archivist aims to preserve and protect; the researcher hopes to explore and experience. Certainly, much …

Introduction / Issue 11: Curator and Context

Issue 11: Curator and Context (2007) Mara Gladstone A person discerns meaning, significance, or value from every aesthetic encounter, as each art object is presented to the world laden with ideas. Yet the contexts of experiencing art, by working within or against authorial intention, affect one’s impressions of it, perhaps producing incomplete or imperfect interpretations. Contexts can be personal, physical, architectural, natural, artificial, and textual. They range from the subjective perspective of the viewer and her physical stature in a space, to the structural and architectural dynamics of the viewing site, the flow of its galleries, color of walls, tactility of floors, and quality of light from the sky. Other contextual factors might include the placement of the object, its relationship to adjacent objects, and the atmospheric properties that emerge from the overall installation of an exhibition, such as communal responses from visitors, or the mood of the space given the functions of the environment and the actions of its users. Contexts can also be textual, particularly in the museum or in institutionalized exhibition spaces, …

Introduction/Issue 10: The Symptom

Issue 10: The Symptom (Spring 2006) Linda Edwards and Michael Williams Our patient suffers a symptom – a repetitive hand-washing that pervades his everyday life. Anguished, frustrated, trammeled by it, our patient is also inextricably entwined with it. Despite his attempts to transcend it, his compulsive handwashing has become indispensable to his assertion of self and identity, and he fears he will be at loss, lose something, fall apart, without it. What motivates our patient’s symptom and what does it want to say? How should our patient reply? How does – indeed can – our patient overcome this intolerable, yet embodied, compulsion? And what awaits its dissolution? In psychoanalysis the symptom occupies a central position – both theoretically and practically. The symptom grounds the play of latent and manifest levels that are the condition of possibility of psychoanalytic knowledge and practice. We approach our patient’s hand-washing as an indicator for, and confrontation with, something else: abjected, forbidden, unfulfilled, improper, obfuscated. As a “sign and a surrogate,” as Freud says, for the “known of old and …

Contributors/Issue 10: The Symptom

Dale Bradley is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Communications, Popular Culture, and Film at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.  His research interests include the discursive analysis of contemporary technoculture and the historical emergence of cybersociety. He can be reached at dbradley@brocku.ca. Sudeep Dasgupta is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. His current research and teaching interests include: aesthetics and migrant subjectivity, art history and contemporary visual analysis, and the relevance of postcolonial theory for media studies. He is editor of Constellations of the Transnational: Modernity, Culture, Critque (Rodopi, Amsterdam, 2006, forthcoming) and recent publications include: “Visual Culture and the Place of Modernity” in Internationalizing Cultural Studies, edited by Ackbar Abbas and John Erni, London, Blackwell, 2004; “Gods in the Marketplace: Refin(d)ing the Public under the Aura of the Religious” in Religion, Media and the Public Sphere, edited by Birgit Meyer and Annelies Moors, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 2006; and “Suspending the Body: Biopower and the Contradictions of Family Values in Les Terres …

Introduction / Issue 9: Nature Loving

Issue 09: Nature Loving (Fall 2005) Lisa Uddin and Peter Hobbs In the opening sequences of Luc Jacquet’s recent film for National Geographic, March of The Penguins (2005), audiences are shown spectacular vistas of a barren Antarctic landscape. The ice-covered backgrounds are punctuated by tiny, black figures waddling across the horizon. The warm and knowing narration of Morgan Freeman assures viewers that this promises to be “a love story.” “In the harshest place on earth,” he states, “love finds a way. This is the incredible true story of a family’s journey to bring life into the world.” What unfolds in the remaining 80 minutes is a nature documentary about the breeding habits of the Emperor Penguin, made legible through the conventional rhetoric of the modern, heterosexual family. Emerging from a throng of indistinguishable, and vaguely frightening, penguin bodies, are the affective bonds between prospective male and female mates, between attentive “fathers” and the eggs that are left to their care, and between traveling “mothers” and the adorable newborns to which they return. These visible intimacies demonstrate that …

Introduction: The Loop as Temporal Form

Issue 08: The Loop as a Temporal Form (2004) Margot Bouman  As a form, the loop contradicts the linear structure we typically associate with time. The common-sense formulation understands time as a progression forward from moment to moment to moment, with a clear division of past, present and future. Yet many theories contradict this apparent truism. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, for example, organize time into chronos and aeon. Greg Hainge, a contributor to this issue, writes that the latter continually and simultaneously divides the event into the already-there and the not-yet here, while failing to settle on either. This describes a loop folding back on itself, while not returning to its place of origin. Elsewhere, Jacques Derrida uses this failure of origins to structure a system of ethics grounded in an attempt to elude the eternal return of the same. While Deleuze, Guattari and Derrida insist on this failure in their use of the loop as a temporal form, Sigmund Freud understands time in terms of telos and its failure. In other words, absent a forward progression …

Introduction: Casting Doubt

Leanne Gilbertson and Elizabeth Kalbfleisch Doubters. . . tend to be more interested in what they have found than in what they have lost. These figures are not howling in the abyss of the night; they’re out there measuring the stars.1 The essays in this issue of InVisible Culture come out of a conference hosted by the graduate program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester in the spring of 2003. The conference, Casting Doubt, invited responses from across North America, and in fact, saw its theme interpreted more widely than we could have imagined. The papers revisited doubtful situations, explored how doubt has been visualized, and reflected upon how we might re-theorize doubt in the current cultural climate. The essays which appear here not only testify to the conference’s success, but more importantly, to the significance of doubt as a subject worthy of sustained inquiry, as a mode of analysis, and as a keystone of visual studies. Doubt’s inherency to visual studies suggests that intellectual work founded on doubt, on uncertainty and skepticism, …

Introduction: Visual Publics, Visible Publics

Catherine Zuromskis Our theoretical understanding of public is much changed since Jurgen Habermas first put forth his notion of the bourgeois public sphere in 1962.1 While Habermas’ ideal of a democratic, dialogic community external to both the private sphere and the state is still valuable today, the more recent critical work of Bruce Robbins, Nancy Fraser, Rosalyn Deutsche, and Michael Warner (to name only a few)2 point less to a definable, singular public sphere and more to an often-indistinct and fragmentary interplay of multiple publics and counterpublics. These new critical understandings of public raise questions about who is included and who is excluded in the formation of certain publics, and problematize overly simplistic binary distinctions between inside and outside, public and private. As such, it has become more difficult than ever to define a public (or publics) concretely, as either theoretical or practical cultural entities. This issue of Invisible Culture is a modest attempt to explore some of the many issues raised by the growing field of public sphere theory. Taking a cue from Michael Warner, the articles presented …

Introduction: Visual Culture and National Identity

Lucy Curzon Increasingly, within the domains of film studies, art history, and cultural and communication studies, the role of national identity as a component of visual analysis has become paramount. The work of Timothy Barringer, Robert Burgoyne, David Peters Corbett, Darrell William Davis, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Sarah Street, and Janet Wolff, amongst others, has demonstrated the importance of including, for example, ideas of “Americanness” or “Englishness” in the discussion of painting, photography, and cinema.1 The purpose of this issue of Invisible Culture, therefore, is to investigate how visual culture can be analyzed as an expression of national identity, including how questions of national identity are negotiated through different forms of visual culture. Visual culture, in this context, is understood not as a mirror that reflects national identity, but rather a complex venue for its interpretation – a site through which populations come into consciousness as members of a particular community. J.T.H. Connor and Michael G. Rhode explore the complicated relationship between medical photography and national identity, in both “high art” culture and the broader realm of visual studies. …

Introduction: To Incorporate Practice

T’ai Smith When the topic for this issue was initially formulated—to investigate the processes of work in distinction from the product—the call for papers asked: How can we understand work, not as a “task” geared toward a final product-object, but as a process whose “products” may be multiple, unidentifiable, or ephemeral? The purpose here was twofold: to reevaluate the ways in which we analyze or describe the activity called work, and to consider artistic practices that are often unrecognizable within critical methodologies focusing on the final product or representation. The idea was to concentrate on the operations of practice (such as the way in which an apparatus is employed, or a body incorporates habits or rituals), in order to situate the temporal space of work. After receiving the articles, it became apparent that the dialogue generated by the texts concentrated less on this notion of “work” than on the corporeal or dynamic relation between subjects and objects, environments, or activities. Thus the title of this issue, “To incorporate practice,” draws on the textual play implicit in the infinitive “to …

Introduction: Time and the Work

Reni Celeste The starting point of this issue is the conviction that the artwork has been one of the most important sites for speculation on the concept of time, from systematic German aesthetics to contemporary visual and cultural studies. The multiple critiques within the theoretical fields of the past century can be said to center around a re-evaluation of the concept of temporality, from Nietzsche’s exaltation of Dionysian thought, to Bergson’s analysis of duration, Heidegger’s challenge to metaphysics, and Derrida’s notion of différance. The contemporary theory that has been the legacy of these critiques has continued to assert the fundamental importance of the interlacing of time and the artwork to the re-evaluation of thought. On one hand the work of art has been conceived as the arrest of time, of time frozen and possessed, and on the other as the vehicle itself of becoming, expressing a form of knowledge that exceeds the limits of systematic, linear thought. This issue does not seek to take a unified position on the question of the artwork’s relation to temporality, …

Introduction: Interrogating Subcultures

Amy Herzog, Joanna Mitchell and Lisa Soccio Subcultures have been broadly defined as social groups organized around shared interests and practices. The term “subculture” has been used to position specific social groups and the study of such groups, in relation to various broader social formations designated by terms like “community,” the “public,” the “masses,” “society,” and “culture.” Use of the term “subcultures” in academic subcultural studies has shifted since the term was coined in the 1940s in the context of the Chicago School of sociology and its liberal, pluralist assumptions. This loosely defined interdisciplinary field has been altered and informed by Frankfurt School analyses of mass culture and society, by debates in anthropology regarding the methods and ethics of ethnography, by the critical synthesis of perspectives developed in the 1970s at the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, and by subsequent critique and revision of these earlier tendencies especially by feminist and poststructuralist writers. Subcultural studies often involve participant-observation, and may variously emphasize sociological, anthropological, or semiotic analysis in order to address the organization and …