All posts filed under: Past Issues

Introduction / Issue 24: Corpus

In spring 2015, when the spread of Ebola invigorated an immune response for countries such as the United States to suspend air-travel in the face of a deadly epidemic, we speculated on vulnerabilities that loomed within and beyond the realm of public health. From ISIS to continuous global and environmental crises, the media’s pronouncement of threats posed to individuals and collectives alike were ubiquitous. As urgency slipped into a normative state of being, for Issue 24, we asked contributors to explore the various meanings of vulnerability in visual culture. If the rapid diffusion of the Ebola virus could be read as emblematic of the vulnerability of globalism to systemic failure, then what other figurative antigens and foreign bodies remained latent within the global collective? While raising the question of “vulnerability” in our call for papers, we concomitantly held a graduate conference on the theme of “collectivity” here at the University of Rochester. The wide array of submissions to the call for papers and the conference quickly led us to discover that “vulnerability” and “collectivity” were …

Hans Richter’s Rhythmus Films in G: the Collective Cinematographic

Written by Erin McClenathan Filmmaker Hans Richter was one of the founding contributors to G: Materials for Elemental Form-Creation (G: Material zur elementaren Gestaltung) and the only to stay his tenure as editor through the journal’s entire six-issue run from July 1923 to April 1926.1 The G-group did not intend for their Berlin-based publication to uphold the tenets of a particular style or movement but to model a process through which the reader might recognize—and ideally gain the ability to shape—a unified aesthetics of the everyday. The collaborators’ mission, according to the statement embedded in the masthead of G’s first issue, was “[t]o clarify the general situation of art and life. We choose materials with that in mind. Articles and works that seek clarity—and not merely expression. Everything can be of use to creative work and the creative worker.”2 The diversity of topics that the multinational and multilingual panel of contributors submitted to G during its relatively short lifespan attests to the collectivist genesis of the project, from articles by Mies van der Rohe on “Industrial Building” …

A Stranger in the Gallery: Conceptions of the Body Through Art and Theory

Written by Sarah W. Abu Bakr Objects of Horror and Desire The Western gallery has historically been the pedestal for notions of the classical body, perfected in the Renaissance through the hands of White masters such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo. To this day, in this postmodern moment, the Western and Western-influenced gallery’s welcoming of the grotesque body, and the body of the stranger, remains problematic, and historically charged. The gallery in this paper is a conceptual space. While it may manifest in actual gallery spaces—white walled rooms inside white cube museums—what truly matters here is the act of exhibiting, in other words, who has historically been object to be viewed, and who is the viewer? Historically, when an image of the Other is placed in a Western gallery, it is there to mark its difference and strangeness.1 A clear example of this is the display of South African Sarah Baartman’s living and later deceased body (commonly referred to as the Hottentot Venus) as an object to be viewed by White spectators. Baartman’s body was …

Contributors / Issue 24: Corpus

Issue 24, Spring 2016 Sarah W. Abu Bakr is a dual degree Art Education and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies PhD candidate. Sarah is half Palestinian, half Kuwaiti, and holds an MFA in Computational Studio Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London. As an artist, Sarah’s work reflects on her identity as an Arabic/Muslim woman, and meditates on the culture-religion overlap and convolution in the Arab world as well as the Palestinian diaspora. As a scholar, Sarah identifies as a postcolonial feminist and her academic interests include identity, displacement, performance art theory, and decoloniality. Erin McClenathan is an Art History Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia, where she received her M.A. in 2013. Her doctoral project considers the interplay of photographic series and avant-garde filmic structures in interwar print culture. She has presented related research as part of multiple graduate symposia and has also spoken internationally on the relationship between photography and memory in the television series Mad Men. Ali Feser is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Her research explores …

Fieldnotes from the Hy Meisel Slide Collection

Written by Ali Feser An inquiry into the senses, in this light, directs us beyond the faculties of a subject to the transfers, exchanges, and attachments that hinge the body to its environment. Objects are endowed with histories of sensory experience, stratified with a plurality of perceptual possibilities.1 Outbreaks of nostalgia often follow revolution.2 Hy Meisel lived his entire life in Rochester from 1895 to 1980, and he worked as a machinist for Eastman-Kodak, which has been based there since the 1880s. Though Kodak now employs only a couple thousand workers, it was the city’s largest employer for most of the twentieth century. From census records I know that Hy didn’t finish high school but could read and write. While growing up, his family moved frequently to different homes in the same predominantly German neighborhood. His father was a sometimes preacher; they often took in boarders. I found Hy’s draft card and the passenger list from his cruise to Guatemala. I learned that Hy never married, that he never had kids. Much of this is …

Alone Together

Artwork by Erika Raberg. Alone Together, 2014, HD video, single channel projection, 3 minutes, looped. Artist Statement Alone Together considers the idea of partnership in opposition. Drawing from footage filmed from the VIP section of a boxing tournament, it visually isolates a specific gesture from boxing matches in which the appearance of intimacy emerges briefly within an aggressive, hyper-masculinized space. The video alternates between providing information through sound and through sight. Most of the time, the viewer sees nothing but hears the background noise from the stadium, and when this gesture does appear, it does so in silence, and only for a moment. Referred to as clinching, it is a moment of remarkable sculptural tension between bodies that looks like an intense embrace. These moments occur when, at the height of their exhaustion, one fighter pulls the other close to him in order to have the briefest moment’s reprieve from the fight. In order to rest they must lean into one another. The men push each other to extreme physical exhaustion and in doing so …

Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image

Reviewed by Najmeh Moradiyan Rizi, University of Kansas Laura U. Marks. Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015. Hardcover. 416 pp. In recent decades Arab independent and experimental filmmakers have presented the world with some of the most distinctive artistic works through their various cinematic practices. The scholarly and close readings of these works, however, have remained less-studied. Laura U. Marks’s latest book, Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image, is a singular contribution in this regard, providing a thorough analysis and a historically rich account of some of the experimental films and media arts coming from the Arab-speaking world. The significance of Marks’s study shows itself not only in the uniqueness of the subjects discussed, but also in its push of the notion of experimental beyond the medium of film to “low-end video formats to HD to mobile and online platforms” (2) in terms of materiality. This new perspective to moving images challenges the conventions of narrative in order to include “experimental narrative, essay films, [and] experimental documentary” (2) …

Introduction / Issue 23: Blueprints

In his theoretical manifesto, Toward An Architecture, Le Corbusier wrote, “The plan is the generator. Without plan there can be neither grandeur of aim and expression, nor rhythm, nor mass, nor coherence. . . . The plan is what determines everything; it is the decisive moment.” The plan or blueprint is the primary tool of the architect’s and the drafter’s trades—a technical document that bridges creative impulse and constructive labor, intent and execution, virtuality and materiality. Taking shape as a conversation among concept, form, and representation, a blueprint insistently nudges its spectator’s gaze outside its frame. It is understood as a necessary stage on the way to something larger, something grander, something more, and is usually seen not as a self-contained object, but as prescription directed toward a particular outcome. Yet a blueprint may also be the terminus of the unrealized and the unrealizable. Étienne-Louis Boullée’s Cénotaphe à Newton, Le Corbusier’s Ville Contemporaine, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacres, and the Chicago Spire are among the many visionary designs abandoned at the drawing board, whose construction in …

Contributors / Issue 23: Blueprints

Issue 23: Blueprints (Fall 2015) William Fairbrother is a non-anthropocentric artist, designer, writer and researcher living and working in London. He recently graduated from the Royal College of Art with a masters in Information Experience Design, and has a background in Archaeology and Anthropology, achieving a first class bachelors at Durham University. Visit his site: http://www.williamfairbrother.co.uk Jim Middlebrook instructs the architectural studios at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. He previously taught architectural design studios and seminars at Kansas State University. After obtaining architecture degrees from the University of Virginia and Columbia University, he worked for the architectural offices of Rafael Vinoly, Rockwell Group, and Kohn Pederson Fox. His research has included examining the role of design-build pedagogy at the liberal arts context, environmentally sustainable planning practices in Scandinavia, and the architectural implications of virtual space and augmented reality technology. Ned Prutzer is a Communications and Media PhD student with the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research explores GPS and digital mapping platforms, specifically the intersections between their genealogies as forms of media, …

“Bold German graphic design”: Arts et métiers graphiques and New Typography

Written by Kristof Van Gansen In this paper, I consider the way the French graphic arts magazine Arts et métiers graphiques (Graphic Arts and Crafts, 1927-1939) responded to New Typography, a form of typography that had its origins in the Central European avant-gardes and that strove for maximal clarity, submitting the form of printed matter to its function, and how this response is typical of the magazine’s cautious stance towards international avant-garde art—a position characteristic of France in the interwar period. A central work of New Typography is Die neue Typographie (1928),1 written by the German typographer Jan Tschichold, who is generally seen as one of the most important designers of the first half of the twentieth century. While other artists such as László Moholy-Nagy had already published on this new conception of design, Tschichold distilled and elaborated their ideas in what he wanted to be a theoretical and practical handbook for printers and designers that was in tune with the modern age of the machine and the engineer. In France, New Typography never really took off, …

Amending Rachel Whiteread’s Water Tower: Infrastructure as Art, Art as Infrastructure

By James Middlebrook Some commissions are obtained by indirect or unusual means. Several years ago, luck and other factors resulted in the author of this paper obtaining a design commission that was not sought after. Of particular note, in this case the commissioning client did not foresee that the commission would add on to a famous contemporary art installation piece. This scenario involved an artwork that intelligently works in a surreptitious manner – so much so, that client and viewers alike may not have recognized the work’s extents. Not only is it unclear just where the artwork ends, but the client initially did not acknowledge that working on the project’s context meant working on the artwork itself. The additions to this particular project were diminutive in physical scale, consisting mostly of four ladders, a number of steel railings, and an expanse of metal grating. It started as a simple work order from the Building Services Department at the Museum of Modern Art, but in retrospect, the conceptual depth of this project far exceeds that of …

Examining Amsterdam RealTime: Blueprints, the Cartographic Imaginary and the Locative Uncanny

Written By Ned Prutzer In Human Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions, Lucy Suchman argues that all plans or blueprints are contingent upon different modes, styles, and visions that precede the plan itself. Plans are rendered “abstractions over action” rather than final, complete, or faithful articulations of action.1 There are myriad contexts, actors, institutions, and agencies producing effects that are unanticipated by the blueprint. The ways in which plans often fall short is thus a worthwhile site of analysis. I want to focus on this notion of blueprints’ failure in precision to identify broader modes of representation underpinning locative art projects while critiquing their faith in precision and objectivity. For Amsterdam RealTime, an early locative art project from 2002, locative artist Esther Polak traced subjects’ movements with geospatial technologies as they walked, biked, or drove through Amsterdam. An animation of each subject’s traces results. When aggregated onto a screen, these traces draw out the Amsterdam city grid as the subjects have enacted it. Amsterdam RealTime was displayed as the final installment of the Maps of …

No-Stop City

By Alan Ruiz “Significant economic growth has taken place and productive forces have expanded (technology, the destructive control of nature) without disturbing the social relationships of production. […] Development hasn’t kept pace across the board. And this results in the magnitude of the inequality of growth and development.”1 Written in 1968, Henri Lefebvre’s observation foreshadows the consumption of the urban commons under present-day globalization, in which growth accelerates in disproportionate relationship to equality. Within today’s pandemic of gentrification, the urban economy undergoes a kind of standardized resuscitation in which developers perform facelifts and apply repeatable spatial formulas with successful track records – all to the effect that places becomes non-places and, more troubling, these non-places become places. This kind of development, a commodified and seemingly homogenized spatial condition produced by capital, or what Lefebvre called abstract space, seems almost modernist as a normative mode of urban development, yet emblematic of our present neoliberal moment. It was modernism, after all, that presented the universalist goals that embraced industrialization and standardization. As Marion Von Osten observes, modernism …

The BLUEPRINT/Product Disparity: Learning from Lofty Plans and Humble Products

Artwork By Robert Watkins Where do art and academia meet? Can academic writing be artistic? Are academic journals art? Journals like Kairos, Digital Humanities Quarterly, Computers and Composition Online, and InVisible Culture (among others) like to push the boundaries of what is art and what is academia. Some may argue that they don’t push the boundaries of what separates the two so much as showcase how art and academia intersect. These questions drive my work. My current work, the academic-ish comic, “The Blueprint/Product Disparity: Learning from Lofty Plans and Humble Products” only attempts to answer this on a meta-level. Years ago, I became fascinated with the visual and its effectiveness in presenting data. Work from visual gods like David McCandless and Scott McCloud made me realize how clunky alphabetic text can be in representing ideas. I wanted to write about using comics and infographics as academic mediums. My intention was never to undermine the power of the written word by any means. I worried that using traditional text to promote visuals might seem hypocritical and …

Contributors / Issue 22: Opacity

Guillermina De Ferrari (PhD Columbia University) is professor of Spanish and Director of the Center for Visual Cultures at University of Wisconsin-Madison. She specializes on Caribbean literature and visual culture. Her book Vulnerable States: Bodies of Memory in Contemporary Caribbean Fiction (2007) studies the trope of the vulnerable body in contemporary Caribbean literature. Her book Community and Culture in Post-Soviet Cuba (Routledge, 2014) analyzes recent Cuban narrative and photography from the point of view of contract theory and postmodern ethics. She curated the exhibition Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today held at the Chazen Museum of Art (March 6-June 21, 2015). Shalom Gorewitz (b. 1949, Queens, NY) has been working experimentally with computers and video since 1967.  A student of Nam June Paik’s at California Institute of the Arts (BFA, 1971), he is considered a pioneer in the medium.  His work is in permanent collections of several international museums and has been shown in festivals, galleries, and on television in the US, Europe, Japan, Australia, and Africa.  He has received fellowships from Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundations.  He is Professor of Video Art and …

Performing the Document in Francis Alÿs’s Re-enactments (2001)

Written By Emily Rose Lyver-Harris On November 4, 2000, Francis Alÿs illegally purchased a gun from a shop in downtown Mexico City. [1] He then left the shop, loaded gun in hand, and walked through the streets of the city. Twelve and a half minutes later, Alÿs was pursued by the police – he was quickly apprehended, pinned against the police car, searched, and taken away for his arrest. This event constituted the first part of Alÿs’s Re-enactments (2001) – a work in which the artist sought to execute a performance and then carefully recreate it based on the documentation of the performance. The script was simple: he was to buy the gun and move through the streets until something occurred to interrupt him. Alÿs’s initial performance, from his first grasp of the gun until his arrest, was filmed by his collaborator, artist Rafael Ortega, and this footage became the basis for the performance’s reproduction. Alÿs and Ortega replicated the initial performance the same day, a project only possible because Alÿs managed to evade punishment for his …

Opacity and Sensation in Reynier Leyva Novo’s Historical Installations

Written By Guillermina De Ferrari In revolutionary Cuba, history is never about the past. In the early days of the Revolution, state-sponsored cultural production paid much attention to the nineteenth century with one objective: to suggest that the struggle for Independence from Spain in the 1890s hadn’t been fully accomplished until the 1959 Revolution. The most evident examples of this official narrative can be found in the films produced by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). The ICAIC, established in March 1959 to produce documentaries about the Revolution, was one of the earliest and most prolific cultural institutions founded by the new government. In the early years, ICAIC produced films like Lucía (1968), directed by Humberto Solás. Lucía focuses on the War of Independence and the student uprisings in the 1930s during the US-backed Machado regime (famously photographed by Walker Evans and by Constantino Arias) as battles in the more significant Revolution.1 True independence, this and other films seem to suggest, was finally gained thanks to the brave “barbudos” of Sierra Maestra led by Fidel …

The Problem of Nonhuman Phenomenology: or, What is it Like to Be a Kinect?

Written By Anne Pasek New materialism presents an ambitious revision of key philosophical and political concepts, most notably that of the divide between human and nonhuman agents. In order to move critical inquiry outside of the labyrinths of language so that it might also attend to the material effects and actions of the nonhuman world, threads of human exceptionalism must be untangled from some of the West’s most basic ontological principles. From Bruno Latour’s expansion of the concept of agency to include nonhuman agents to Karen Barad’s concept of the post-human performativity of intra-acting matter, there has been a rapid expanse of scholarship that attests to the influential role the material plays in the mechanics of human operations, and indeed the need to dethrone the human from its central place in ethical, philosophical, and political concerns.1 This project also often intersects and extends to analyses of the human as an explicitly material being, one physical entity amongst others, adding a new emphasis on models of human embodiment, animation, and situated perception to a robust and on-going literature …

Afterthoughts on Queer Opacity

Written By Nicholas de Villiers What can a celebrity body be if not opaque? And yet what if the whole point of celebrity is the spectacle of people forced to tell transparent lies in public? We have already mentioned what we take to be a central chord in our culture of “knowingness”—the reserve force of information, the reservoir of presumptive, deniable, and unarticulated knowledge in a public that images itself also as a reservoir of ever-violable innocence. The economics of knowingness help us ask new questions about the transparent lies that constitute celebrity as well. —Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Michael Moon, “Divinity: A Dossier, a Performance Piece, a Little-Understood Emotion” ‘I think there are four kinds of gays in Hollywood,’ explains Howard Bragman, CEO of the PR firm Fifteen Minutes. ‘There’s the openly gay; the gay and everybody knows it but nobody talks about it; the married, closeted gay who doesn’t talk about it; and the screaming ‘I’ll sue you if you say I’m gay’ person.’ In other words, the no closet, the glass closet, the …

Art Documents: The Politics of Visibility in Contemporary Photography

Written By Jayne Wilkinson Photography has long been regarded for its power to make visible and to document the unseen and the unknown aspects of our world. As the technological force par excellence of the past hundred and fifty years and as a medium however defined, the processes that shape what we have come to understand as the photographic universe1 challenge the ways we see and understand the world around us. Photographic representation offers a kind of deferred sight, a way to see after the fact what was not visible in the moment. Whether analogue, digital, formal, vernacular, reportage, conceptual, social or any of the wide range of forms that photography now takes, the properties of the photograph make visible, or reveal, something not seen in the first instance. This production of visibility acts as a mirage, one that simultaneously obscures and reveals the social and political relations embedded within the processes of production. In addition to the immediate relations between photographic producer, object, and viewer there are also relations that exist external to the visible …

Knit for Defense, Purl to Control

Written By Jacqueline Witkowski “Sometimes the war news seems so abstract and it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for soldiers—knitting helped make it real to me.” 1 Left in the visitor’s notebook, this statement commented on Sabrina Gschwandtner’s Wartime Knitting Circle (2007), an interactive installation that invited the audience to sit down with the artist and other gallery attendees to discuss the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while choosing from a variety of “wartime” knitting patterns: squares for blankets to send to Afghanistan and stump socks for those who suffered from casualties. In 2012, the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.—a Smithsonian dedicated to American craft from the 19th century to present—unveiled the exhibition, Craft Futures: 40 Under 40, of which Gschwandtner’s work was a part. Curator Nicholas R. Bell argues that it was this generation—the forty artists featured—who were the most directly influenced by the events of September 11, 2001 (as the oldest were 29 years old and the youngest only 17). Bell states “the 9/11 attacks fundamentally altered the experience of everyday life for …

The Color of Silence

Artwork By Shalom Gorewitz Artist’s statement: Hidden Revelations  “Vision begins with a fault in this world’s smooth facade.” -Howard Nemerov I’m staring at a blank wall.  There is a window in between.  I am inside looking out. I’m staring at a television set.  There is a screen in between.  I am outside looking in. I’m moving my eyes from the keyboard to computer screen and back.  Peripheral vision shows surroundings.  I am simultaneously inside and out. My eyes are closed and I’m painting.  I’m neither inside or out. The painter is always making decisions about how much to cover and leave uncovered. Each mark has some level of transparency.  Form or nothingness, gestures given and withheld. There are shades of every color except black and white.  All pictures share the foundations of foreground, background, above, below, seen, unseen. Painting is always about layering.  Figurative or abstract, there is only the illusion created by strokes of color. “Why are black and white not part of the color chart?” asked Wittgenstein.  Why are they considered color at all?  …

Seeing / Being Seen

Artwork By Justin Nolan Seeing / Being Seen is a reflection on tourism, spectacle, and surveillance. The ubiquity of cameras at cultural sites like Times Square has shifted the memorializing function of the camera. The camera as a tool for experiencing place is nothing new but it becomes much more pervasive when digital cameras allow for almost limitless recording. The ritual of photographing oneself at cultural sites is often more important than the resulting photographs. The role of the camera becomes complicated in places like Times Square, which are so highly surveilled. Tourists point hundreds of cameras up at billboards and lights while at the same time nearly as many cameras are pointed down at the crowd. Autonomous, ubiquitous, and tacitly accepted by the crowd as necessary, the function of security cameras is not questioned and often the cameras themselves are hidden from public view. With cameras above and cameras below, the process of seeing and being seen becomes reciprocal. I first visited Times Square in 2000 and each time I returned I noticed an increasing …

Internal Frontier

Artwork By Kasia Ozga Artist’s Statement: Non-EU immigrants to France seeking long-term residency permits are required to obtain x-rays in order to be cleared for processing. Every day, the government asserts its right to peer into and catalogue the innermost parts of our bodies, in order to determine who gets to stay within its borders and who is unfit to remain. The works explore how our identities are formed as we pass through and reflect on the many borders, physical as well as mental, that we have each crossed in the past and must cross on a daily basis. In the x-ray images, the physical site of transit is inscribed within the body, rather than something that we pass through unharmed. The experience of passing from one area to another stays with the migrant, and becomes part of how he experiences the world. The works’ ambiguity underscores the dual symbolism of the border as a barrier and as a springboard, simultaneously inhibiting and enabling interactions between individuals and select geographic locations. Frontière interne I consists of …

Pay for Your Pleasures

Reviewed by Kirin Wachter-Grene Cary Levine. Pay For Your Pleasures: Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2013. Hardcover. 211 pp. Cary Levine’s first book, Pay For Your Pleasures: Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, uses three of America’s most transgressive artists to reconsider the concept of “transgressive” art. The first book to offer a sustained study of these Los Angeles artists, “bad boys” entering the art world in the 1970s and rising to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, is, on one hand, a deeply researched biographical account of Kelley, McCarthy, and Pettibon, respectively, reinforced by interviews between author and artist. Levine places their considerable bodies of work, through the 1990s, in sociopolitical context and considers the artists both individually and together, linking their work through critical frames of gender, sex, and adolescence. His book is also one of the first to engage with all three artists’ involvement in underground music scenes, the effect such sonic subcultures had on their work, and the themes and methods running across and through the …

Building Zion

Reviewed by Dai Newman Thomas Carter. Building Zion: The Material World of Mormon Settlement. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. 408pp. The standard narrative of the settling of the Great Basin by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asserts that the Mormons moved west to craft a radically different society. Polygamy, theocracy, and communal economics dominate an understanding in which Mormons only acquiesced to American norms after intense outside pressure. The railroad came in 1869, followed by a federal crackdown on polygamy, which swept through the territory until the practice was officially abandoned in 1890. In Building Zion: The Material World of Mormon Settlement, architectural historian Thomas Carter hopes to add nuance this story, showing that Mormons actually experienced Americanization rather slowly and were never really as far from the mainstream as the stories about them suggest. Mormons were building their “Zion,” but the material world of Zion’s cities looked similar to the rest of America. Carter openly admits he is not the first scholar to claim Mormon difference was never as stark …

Radio Benjamin

Radio Benjamin

Reviewed By Anna-Verena Nosthoff Walter Benjamin. Radio Benjamin. Edited by Lecia Rosenthal. Translated by Jonathan Lutes with Lisa Harries Schumann and Diana K. Reese. London and New York: Verso Books, 2014, 424 pp. In view of the overwhelming popularity of Benjamin’s theoretical writings on the artwork, technology, and cultural-political change, it is curious that so little is known about his radio works. In fact, Benjamin produced around eighty radio talks, dialogues, and children’s stories for Berlin and Frankfurt radio stations in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Fortunately, Radio Benjamin finally compiles Benjamin’s most important pieces in this medium. The relative absence of Benjamin’s radio works from scholarly literature on his work is understandable. This phenomenon is, first, a result of the relative inaccessibility of the written transcripts. Second, only parts of a single audio file have been preserved, resulting in a lack of essential information on the works’ auditory qualities. Third, Benjamin’s own comments on the works reveal his skepticism about their importance.1 One of the major achievements of Lecia Rosenthal’s carefully edited volume is that, …

Introduction / Issue 21: Pursuit

In October 2013, just as this issue was taking shape, the United States Government suspended operations, grinding to a halt for two weeks and resulting in a combined total of 6.6 million furloughed days of employee labor, a loss of some $2 billion in lost wages, and an irrevocable failure of bipartisan politics. The first complete government shutdown in half a generation was the result of a series of continuing resolutions that stalled congressional budget negotiations until they reached a complete deadlock. The pursuit of divergent party agendas ultimately led to the achievement of none until at last the object of pursuit itself had changed. The effect was at once traumatic and banal—a continuation of everyday life for the majority of the public but a highly visible marker of a troubling defect within the highest orders of governance. Against this backdrop of frustrated pursuit and of changing definitions of pursuit, we invited scholars and artists to explore ways pursuit manifests at both the individual and collective levels. What we received revealed the dual nature and …