All posts filed under: Past Issues

Introduction / Issue 29 :
Beyond Love

Featured image: Still from “The Origin Tapes” by contributor Beina Xu Before we can get beyond love, we would like to share how we got there. When we decided the twenty-ninth issue of InVisible Culture should address the idea of love, one of our members asked,”Why love and why now?” Although this question was raised to the other board members, it also extended beyond our group and toward a recent discourse. Why, for example, is love the topic Alain Badiou turned to in his book In Praise of Love? Or, more importantly, why would Badiou want to praise love? The question of love was also the topic of an aptly titled e-flux journal reader series, What’s Love (or Care, Intimacy, Warmth, Affection) Got To Do With It? Rather than answer these questions (including the one initially raised within our board), InVisible Culture seeks to keep the question of love in its place in order to move beyond it. This is not an abandonment of the topic, but a way to use what love has given in …

Contributors / Issue 29: Beyond Love

Laurel Ahnert is a lecturer in the School of Film, Media & Theatre at Georgia State University. She researches ethical questions raised by global documentary films and online media using phenomenology as her philosophical lens. Her work has appeared in journals such as Social Text and New Review of Film & Television Studies. Tiffany E. Barber is a scholar, curator, and writer of twentieth and twenty-first century visual art, new media, and performance. Her work focuses on artists of the black diaspora working in the United States and the broader Atlantic world. She is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware. Loren Britton is an artist and curator based in between Berlin, Germany and New York, USA. Britton’s work explores the transformation of form via linguistic devices. Britton’s work is in relationship to the non-binary body and seeks to reimagine the utopian possibilities of language. Britton has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at Boston University, Boston, MA, USA; Scott Charmin Gallery, Houston, TX, USA; LTD Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Vanity Projects, Miami, FL, USA; Field Projects, New …

Us, THEM, and High-Risk Dancing

By Tiffany E. Barber In darkness, a live, punk-influenced sound score saturates a converted sixty-nine-seat black box theater in New York’s Lower East Side. The source: electric guitarist Chris Cochrane positioned upstage right.1 Upstage left, a spotlight illuminates two young male dancers from above. One sits in a chair and the other kneels, dressing bandages on the first dancer’s right knee. They wear cool-colored tank tops, loose-fitting khaki pants, and sneakers. Writer Dennis Cooper recites a text in an uninflected monotone alongside the dancers’ initial movements, cuing the piece’s sociopolitical implications: I saw them once. I don’t know when, or who they were because they were too far away. But I remember things, like what they wore, which wasn’t anything special—pants, shirts, regular colors—stuff I’ve seen thousands of times since. I wanted them to know something. I cupped my hands around my mouth and thought about yelling out. But they wouldn’t have heard me. Besides, I didn’t belong there.2 This opening scene sets the stage for Ishmael Houston-Jones’s THEM, an improvised composition at the intersection …

Loss of Control, Control over Loss: A Posthumanist Reading of Lars and the Real Girl and Black Mirror’s “Be Right Back”

By Prerna Subramanian “To define what is real is to define what is human, if you care about humans. If you don’t you are schizoid…and the way I see it, an android: that is, not human and hence not real.”- Philip K Dick quoted by N Katherine Hayles in How We Became Posthuman The idea that any discussion pertaining to what is human and what is not, matters only “if you care about humans” is an important connection this article probes further into.1 This particular prerequisite to defining what is human is significant to understanding how relationships, emotions, sentiments have often formed the field where arguments in favour of and against human exceptionalism have been played out. Human exceptionalism or the tendency to categorically put humans on a different pedestal than other beings has been a crucial tenet through which posthumanist scholars often ruminate over the idea of human, inhuman, non-human and investigate the boundaries between these categories. What posthumanist scholars tend to grapple with in their work is the idea of whether there is …

‘Making things glow with their own light’: Love, Documentary Witness and the Endless Search in Nostalgia for the Light

By Laurel Ahnert   The luster and gleam of the stone, though itself apparently glowing only by the grace of the sun, first bring to radiance the light of the day, the breadth of the sky, the darkness of the night. The temple’s firm towering makes visible the invisible space of air. —Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”   Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are […] What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more. —Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation and Other Essays   Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light (2010) begins with a black screen and the sound of metal gliding against metal. A series of close-ups show the internal machinations of a large interstellar telescope, which creaks and groans as it rotates slowly before banging loudly into place. The camera looks up at the high, domed ceiling of the observatory. Two sliding doors scrape open to reveal a large …

The Origin Tapes

By Beina Xu The Origin Tapes is an essay film borne from the discovery of a suitcase of unseen VHS tapes recording my family’s migration from China to the U.S. in the 1980s. They contained images of landmark moments in personal and collective history: the first time I meet my father—which is also the first time I set foot in the U.S.—as well as footage of the Tiananmen riots of 1989, and late family members. Spellbound, I embarked on an emotionally arduous process to digitize and watch them for the first time. What emerged was a documented process of encounter—an archaeology of love. Years of migration and distance have strained—at times estranged—relations within my family. There was a marked gap between the way I felt about my upbringing, and the feeling the tapes transmitted to me in the moment I watched them, as if I actually lived two lives: “first as a child, then as an adult, with a screen of forgetfulness erected somewhere between them” (MacDougall 2006:69). How does one perceive love? And how …

Queerstory on Art and Sex: What’s love got to do with it?

By Trish Nixon Visceral desire, pleasures of the flesh, A pulsating heat that is all consuming A gaze that touches melting you into a pool of ecstasy My aim is to articulate truthfully what it means to inhabit my body. Rawness, pleasure, and deviant behavior are what excites me most. Currently, my studio practice is taking me on a search for a new kind of imagery, one where lines are blurred between gender constructs. The work crosses into various fields from painting to digital media. Installation and performance are also appropriate platforms. Food and self-pleasure are a consistent theme throughout. My images allow me the freedom to embrace my sexual body anyway I please. I do not seek to establish a barrier between my work and explicit imagery. Nor do I seek to align my work with a grand aesthetic theme. At this time, my images speak to sexual desires and fetishes outside of a normative framework surrounding the body. It is within this framework where I express my queerness, my vulnerability, and my need …

Amores Postmodernos

Featured image: Uy aqui y donde sea By Martin F. Wannam “Amores Postmodernos”a photographic series that explores queer subjects from Guatemala City with a contemporary narrative base of social media, sex, gender and sexuality created with religious symbolism as a way of proposing political disturbance to people that impose the norm by showing pleasure of a queer lifestyle. I want my work to render visible a community of humans that seek a queer heterotopia. As Michel Foucault suggests, “queer heterotopias are places where individuals can challenge the hereronormative regime and are free to perform their gender and sexuality without being qualified, marginalized or punish”.1 All of the subjects are friends or strangers that were encountered through my daily life, via social media, hookup apps, or circles of friends that in their own way are disrupting gender norms by exploring and experimenting with crafting a queer identity.  In thinking, in particular, about how queer love behaves towards oneself or to others, it cannot be defined by the norm but is defined through sexual practice or aesthetically transforming one´s …

Love in the dark

By Alexandra Halkias Love is colonized and recolonized. Never having been pure, technically love no longer can be said to exist really. Hallmark cards and diamonds, laws, LGBTQI+ struggles for its recognition, gowns, roses and designated beneficiaries populate the domain; not just the name is given. The very ground is gone. the grey melding of selves mundane lemon slice blood in the eyes the fury and the ice if anything manages to slither between  Anything There is an image of a father, a father who is dead.  The dead body in the bed.  Eyes closed, who closed them? The paid home carer. We got there a few minutes past. For almost an hour we talked to you, I held your hand, the doctor is coming, daddy. We called, he is coming. The color of the face, the position of the mouth. Sideway glances. The look of the mouth. My sister whispers to me, is he breathing? Holding your hand. Rubbing it. The way you used to rub ours. Realization dawns. Such words. The doctor comes. …

Marija + Toma

By Divlja Kruška/Wild Pear Arts Marija and Toma are a couple in their 60s who had been married for just over a year at the time of shooting. Both of them have had several previous spouses, but now they are together they have a strong desire to show off and share the exuberant affection they feel for one another with the people they hold dear. So it was that we were introduced to them while carrying out research for various on-going visual anthropology projects in Eastern Serbia, and they immediately invited us to join the lunch they were hosting to celebrate their 15-month wedding anniversary. In addition to their warmth and friendliness, we were keen to accept so that we could see the “Bird” monument that Toma had built for his village using money he had earned while working abroad. The monument actually turned out to be more of a village square that people could use for social events, such as the anniversary party in question. We envisaged shooting materials to use as part of an …

Dear Dawn

Featured image: Easter Queen, 11.5X13cm, 2017 By Loren Britton   Dear Dawn, I hope this finds you well. I’m writing to tell you that I love you. We haven’t met yet but when you told me you loved me, in your personal ad. Where you told anyone who read it that you loved them. I wanted to write you back:                                                      Dear Dawn,                                                                        I love you. That’s all.                                                                                               …

Still from: Love in the pixels: A visual autoethnography of restoration

Love in the pixels: A visual auto-ethnography of restoration

By Moira O’Keeffe “I went to the photographer’s show as to a police investigation, to learn at last what I no longer knew about myself.” – Roland Barthes.1 After an estrangement of nearly forty years, I have recently reconnected with my late father’s extended family. This video is the first step in an exploration of this process through visual autoethnography. I have been immersing myself in the large photographic archive of my equally large family, working with hundreds of family slides and photographs. I digitize slides, removing the visual remnants of dust, fingerprints, and the wear and tear of years gone by. I edit and tag and save metadata to the files I create. Along the way, I engage in a sort of personal photo-elicitation—are memories stored in these images? Can I access them?  What do the photographs mean to me? Where am I pricked by Barthes’ punctum? The photographs both represent and trigger memories; they also challenge and sometimes fully contradict the things that I think I know. Further, they offer the opportunity to …

#typewriter dialogues

By Susanne Kass https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/typewriterdialogues/ I am fascinated by the way that text in the era of the digital world and social media has both expanded some of its properties but also adjusted some of the material aspects of words. In some ways I feel that written text has become even more material, or at least when writing I have felt a greater need to touch, feel texture, accept mistakes and markings as a part of the process of writing. Time has also become condensed. With instant publishing the present moment is just more essential, the thoughts and feelings of today may be forgotten or different tomorrow, I can write bravely because I really don’t think anybody cares. If I don’t say it now it will never be, or at least everything will be different tomorrow. In the loneliness of my studio I returned to my typewriter. Bought at a flea market as an instrument for a performance, more for its ability to produce noise than to spit out evenly spaced, legible type, it was heavy, …

Introduction / Issue 28: Contending with Crisis

Artwork by contributor Anna Haglin The theme of the twenty-eighth issue of InVisible Culture makes explicit something that has resonated throughout the past four issues of our journal. From engagements with vulnerability and states of contagion (Issue 24: Corpus), and the intersections between surveillance, (national) security and the visual (Issue 25: Security and Visibility), to an issue inspired by the refugee crisis (Issue 26: Border Crossings) and another devoted to the proliferation of speculative imaginaries in the present moment (Issue 27: Speculative Visions), these issues suggest that “across diverse and geopolitical locations, the present moment imposes itself on consciousness as a moment in extended crisis.”1 Defined by the global uncertainty of a world afflicted by varied and ambiguously interrelated states of emergency, the concept of “crisis” here refers to a multitude of circumstances, events, and situations: military conflict, debt crises, issues of political representation, the mass migration and displacement of refugees, increasing ecological disruptions. These ruptures in the social demand constant attention from individuals and communities, constituting a need for committed artistic and scholarly engagements …

Contributors / Issue 28: Contending with Crisis

alma aamiry-khasawnih is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her scholarship focuses on access to the street in post-colonial and settler-colonial nation states as a site to understanding and articulating access to citizenship. Her current project examines ephemeral visual culture production as sites that orient, disorient, and reorient feminist debates on gender, class, and religion. She also examines how white-washing walls, cleansing, and beautification projects are all part of authoritarian visual culture and politics of respectability that aim at policing bodies in public spaces. Razan AlSalah is a filmmaker and media artist working between Canada, the US and Lebanon. Her work explores our contemporary (dis)connection to place, which particularly comes to question in digital spaces, and more so now in virtual reality.  Her short film your father was born 100 years old, and so was the Nakba, won Best Narrative Short at Cinema Days Palestine, has been acquired by the Palestine Films Collection and has been selected in film festivals including HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Ann …

Crisis of Invasion: Militaristic Language and the Legitimization of Identity and Place

By Emma Lansdowne On May 9, 2016, the alt-right news site Bugout News published an article entitled “It’s OFFICIAL: We’re Being Invaded By Illegal Immigrants And What Obama Has Reaped, We Will Sow,” in which the author declares that millions of Americans are “sick and tired of being forced to witness and accept a massive invasion of third-world poor into their country.”1This message of crisis, writes J. Dougherty under the web name Usafeaturesmedia, is a direct reflection of and signals agreement with the anti-immigration message put forth during the presidential campaign by current U.S. President, Donald J. Trump. 2 Trump’s hard-line campaign proposals on border control became a rallying cry for right-wing Americans who remain suspicious of asylum-seekers and view illegal immigration as one of the greatest threats not simply to national security, but to nationhood itself. Conservative journalist Pat Buchanan neatly summarized this position on the public affairs program The McLaughlin Group in early January 2016 when he warned that “if the invasion of Europe and the United States are not stopped, these — the …

Visibility in Crisis: Configuring Transparency and Opacity in We Are Here’s Political Activism

by Christian Sancto Fig. 1. We Are Here, Homeless on the street in the cold and rain after the eviction of camp Osdorp, Autumn 2012. Courtesy of the artists’ collective. We Are Here is the vehicle by which a group of Amsterdam-based refugees attempts to make visible the conditions of crisis that envelope its members’ lives. The group is comprised of refugees whose applications for asylum in the Netherlands are, for various reasons, no longer in process. Although they remain living in the Netherlands, they have no means of income, since they are not permitted to work. At the same time the government does not provide them with housing, forcing the group to move from squatted building to squatted building, or simply to live on the streets. The refugees formed We Are Here in September 2012 to provide them with a means for having their existence in the Netherlands recognized through collective action. The group’s website recounts that it emerged from an impetus to “make themselves visible” by “start[ing] a demonstration.”1 As interest in the group …

Four Times ‘Egyptian Identity:’ Mural collaboration as dissent in times of crisis

by alma aamiry-khasawnih Figure 1: Multiple artists, Egyptian Identity, June-July 2013, paint, spray, metal, found objects, and wood, 82 ff x 13 ft (25 m x 4 m). Qasr El-Nil Street, Cairo, Egypt. (Photograph: Abdelrhman Zin Eldin) A mural 25 meters long and four meters high stands at the end of Qasr El-Nil Street in downtown Cairo, only three blocks away from the famous Midan El-Tahrir (Tahrir Square) and Mohamed Mahmoud Street where Egyptian protestors lived and died demanding the fall of the regime starting on January 25, 2011. The sunset sky of white and blue with hints of red and orange forms the background for a portrait of a young fallaha (rural) girl with flowers in her braided hair, looking into the distance contemplating her past, present, and future. Beside her is a poem: “When I first opened my eyes, and before my mother knew me, they applied kohl (eyeliner) to my eyes reaching my temples so I can look like your statues.”1 She is surrounded by metal sculptures, hybrid figures, human and non-human, with …

“La Bola de Cristal”: Puerto Rican Meme Production in Times of Austerity and Crisis

by Caroline Gil-Rodríguez Sky is a sea of darkness, when there is no sun Sky is a sea of darkness, When there is no sun to light the way When there is no sun to light the way There is no day There is no day There’s only darkness Eternal Sea of Darkness. — Sun Ra Puerto Rico, a US Territory with a population of 3.474 million people, that is neither a sovereign nation nor state of the union. The island is currently in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis with an accrued debt of over $73 billion and $49 billion in pension obligations, the largest economic insolvency in the history of the United States. The fiscal crisis has seen an abundance of meme trends that unveil the frustrations of the citizenry after decades of corruption, react to the recent imposition of a Fiscal Control Board, and draw on the island’s thorny history as a colony of the U.S. Who else, but a godless Richard Dawkins to coin the term “meme”? The evolutionary biologist and …

Black and White and Back: Reversed Negatives in Rula Halawani’s series “Negative Incursions”

by Sherena Razek Figure 1 Rula Halawani, Untitled XII, Negative Incursion series, 2002, archival print, 90 x 124 cm, edition of 5. Photograph courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery. Write down! I am an Arab I have a name without a title Patient in a country Where people are enraged My roots Were entrenched before the birth of time And before the opening of the eras Before the pines, and the olive trees And before the grass grew – Mahmoud Darwish, “Identity Card”1 Acclaimed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish expresses the inherent frustration of the Palestinian condition of invisible visibility in his 1964 poem “Identity Card.”2 Addressing an existence that is often negated, confined, and erased under Israeli colonial occupation, Darwish’s poetry speaks to a population that since 1948 has been constantly watched, but never seen. Half a century later, Darwish’s poetry maintains its relevance as the occupation continues to suppress and expand its hold on Palestinian territory. In 2002 during the Second Intifada, or Second Palestinian Uprising, Israeli Defence Forces launched “Operation Defensive Shield,” the …

Your father was born 100 years old, and so was the Nakba ابوكي خلق عمره ١٠٠ سنة، زي النكبة

Artwork by Razan AlSalah, 2017. Oum Ameen, a Palestinian grandmother, returns to her hometown Haifa through Google Maps Streetview, today, the only way she can see Palestine. Although Streetview came out of necessity – Palestinian refugees like my grandma and myself are denied entry to their homeland – I quickly understood that Streetview inherently poses the question of our (dis)connection to place. The film uses glitch poetics and Streetview’s aesthetics of erasure to tell a personal story as well as a universal disposition of loss, injustice and distance.

Emergency Blankets

Artwork by Anna Haglin, 2016. Fig. 1. I require assistance, 2016, hot-stamped foil on emergency blanket, 84” x 52” I want to protect us. My work explores the complexity of this instinct as a contemporary woman and visual artist. I put my personal gestures of care on display to exemplify empathy and examine moments when my emphatic response is futile. I question the anthropocentric systems that have led to environmental and humanitarian instability by symbolically mismatching material and function. In doing so, I provoke situational paradox, asking: how well anything or anyone can protect us from ourselves? The utilitarian objects I construct are hopeful tools for survival and recovery.  My emergency blanket series is an example of such tools. They are printed with both traditional wool blanket patterns and symbols from the international maritime signal code, thus addressing crises of communication, identity, and natural disaster.  Though flashy and graphic, at the end of the day, they are blankets—caretaking objects meant to help those in need. The relief they provide is only temporary.

Notes on the Crisis of Historical Consciousness and Formal Knowledge

Artwork by Cameron McEwan, 2018 “With the fading away of the dream of knowledge as a means to power, the constant struggle between the analysis and its objects – their irreducible tension – remains. Precisely this tension is ‘productive:’ the historical ‘project’ is always the ‘project of a crisis.’” “The critical act will consist of a recomposition of the fragments once they are historicised in their ‘remontage.’” Manfredo Tafuri, The Sphere and the Labyrinth, 1980.1 The following collage studies and the accompanying short text approach the notion of crisis through a reading of what the architectural historian Manfredo Tafuri has called the “project of a crisis.” For Tafuri, crisis was etymologically linked with the political category of decision (de-cision, to de-cide, to de-fine), which shares the prefix de- from the Latin for “off” meaning “to cut off” or to separate and isolate. These ideas are given political and methodological significance in Tafuri’s work as he constructed a project from the fragments of the historical avant-garde and theorized the relationship between architectural and political ideology, between …

Introduction / Issue 27: Speculative Visions

Artwork by contributor Julie Tixier. For Issue 27, the editorial board of InVisible Culture is honored to present a special introduction by Dr. Jeffrey Tucker. “Speculative Visions” is a title rich with denotative and connotative meanings covering the scope of this issue of (In)Visible Culture and of Cultural Studies more generally.  It is a formulation that parallels “speculative fiction,” an umbrella term for writing that addresses any of a number of topics–augmentations of the human body, journeys through space and time, the wonder and warnings attached to technological developments, utopias and dystopias, alien encounters, and more; it also covers a range of genres–e.g. science fiction, fantasy, and horror–belonging to what the late Tzvetan Todorov called The Fantastic.1 It is in this latter sense particularly that such coverage is warranted; look closely at the content, production, or reception of “genre” literature or film and you will see boundaries a-blurring.  Horror film director John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is based on the novella “Who Goes There?” (1938) by legendary science fiction editor and writer John W. Campbell, Jr.  …

Contributors / Issue 27: Speculative Visions

Darrell Urban Black was born in Brooklyn, New York, but he grew up in Far Rockaway, New York. In high school, he excelled in science with an affinity for outer space. In June 1969, as America fulfilled J. F. Kennedy’s dream to put the American Stars and Stripes into the dusty surface of the moon his fascination with spaceships grew. As a child, he made spaceship models eventually placing his artistic visions on paper resulting in some 500 drawings. Phantasmal spaceships eventually carried him to unique wonderland of strange forms and colors. In 1982, he joined the National Guard.  During this time, his previous drawings were lost – but not his passion.  In 1988, he joined the army and served another four years. He earned his Bachelor Degree in Science of Criminal Justice Administration at the University of Phoenix. In April 2001, he was nominated by the German government as a “candidate of the year’s prize for promising young artists” for his artwork titled “The Invasion” in the exhibition “The Zeppelin in Art, Design, and …

Horrific Flesh, Holy Theater

by Jenn Cole, PhD. Do away with the actor and you do away with the means by which a debased stage-realism is produced and flourishes. No longer would there be a living figure to confuse us into connecting actuality and art; no longer a living figure in which the weakness and tremors of the flesh were perceptible. – Edward Gordon Craig, from “The Actor and the Über- Marionette” When I was ten, I found a religious pamphlet in my stepmother’s purse, which I obsessively read and re-read. It featured a story about an eighth-century Basilian monk who, saying mass, was overcome with doubt about the transformation of the communion elements of bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.  As this monk began to doubt, the bread and wine turned to real flesh and real blood before his eyes. The pamphlet spent the rest of its brief pages describing the scientific testing that had been done to prove that the fleshy membrane and coagulated blood, conserved in an ornate monstrance, were, in …

The Branded Future: Brand-Placement Implications for Present Viewers and Future Narratives

by Barbara D. Ferguson In Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report, set in the year 2053, the protagonist John Anderton is wrongly accused of murder and forced to flee his own law-enforcement colleagues. In a subway station where commuter crowds should offer anonymity, the advertisements lining every wall become dangers Anderton hadn’t considered. Floor-to-ceiling billboards for Lexus, American Express and Guinness scroll and flash with animated life, and, because retinal-scan identification has been integrated into marketing, the merest glance at an advertisement triggers a personalized appeal. As he enters the station, a woman’s voice assures him on behalf of Lexus, “The road you’re on, John Anderton, is the one less travelled.”1 “John Anderton,” hails a genial voice a few hurried steps further, “you could use a Guinness right about now!” The faster Anderton moves through the corridor, the more his name resounds from all directions in a cacophony of goods and services offered.2 The film’s plot progresses amid a sea of branding, with Lexus receiving the most prominent screen-time and -space, but with Aquafina, Nokia, Bulgari, …

Affecting Activist Art: Inside KillJoy’s Kastle, A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House

By Genevieve Flavelle Photo credit: Allyson Mitchell, Lesbian Rule, 2013. Courtesy of the Artist. On a warm fall evening in 2015 a lesbian feminist entity known as KillJoy opened her fang bearing mouth in the center of Los Angeles’s Plummer Park. Inviting audiences into her inner sanctum, the maligned matriarch elicited delight, horror, fear, sentimentality, laughter, and reverence for lesbian feminist herstories1 Viewers grouped together in line with friends, or perhaps friendly strangers, awaiting their turn to experience the novelty of a Lesbian Feminist Haunted House. Reaching the front of the line, visitors’ introduction to KillJoy’s Kastle was brusque as Valerie Solanas was back from the dead and working the door!2 Brandishing her infamous S.C.U.M. Manifesto, a ghoulish Solanas instructed groups that what they were about to experience would not be “part of the ordinary.” As a group was being informed about nudity and instructed not to take flash photography, I joined in time to be advised that the “KillJoy’s Kastle is best viewed by the light of your pussy—if you have one.” I quickly explained, as I …

“Your Bad Theory Helped a Killer Go Free”: Recession Anxiety, Surveillance Labor, and the Hauntology of the Digital in Sinister”

Written by John Roberts I. Introduction In a dimly lit home office, a writer gets to work: taking notes while screening home movies and hoping (needing desperately, in fact) to make sense of the footage somehow, to scrutinize the screen until it yields a meaningful, self-evident explanation of its visual contents. The writer is Ellison Oswalt, protagonist of Sinister (Derrickson, 2012), but this description, with slight modifications, could just as easily fit the (post-)cinematic spectator of Paranormal Activity (Peli, 2007), who examines that film’s home movies with the same level of investigatory intensity, and with similar outcomes: both will be fascinated and frightened by the images they see, and also be made palpably anxious by the evidentiary truths those images do and do not disclose. Shifting frames again, the description could apply as well to the spectator of Sinister (academic or otherwise), engaging in processes of narrative hypothesis-testing and thematic construction: a forensic construction of narrative that pieces together coherent meaning from a flow of audiovisual data in time. This essay explores how Sinister, in …

A Tour of the Tactical Subjunctive: Virtually Visiting the Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History

by Daniel Grinberg In the Tipton Three Exhibition Space, a projection screen displays “Hung Lazy Boy.”1 Created by artists Carling McManus and Jen Susman, this animated GIF features the eponymous chair dangling in chains in a living room. On repeat, the chair swings near a home entertainment system and threatens—but never manages—to yield to the imperatives of gravity. Because this cryptic sequence is showing at the Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art of History (hereafter referred to as the Museum), its precarious status may prompt associations like the hooded man of Abu Ghraib; practices of bondage, hanging, and lynching; or the recliners in which some Guantanamo detainees consume media or receive force-feedings. It also suggests that Americans cannot shut out their government’s abuses in the fortresses of their comfortable homes. In the same exhibition space, a 59-minute digital video, “Performing the Terror Playlist” is playing.2 This work by Adam Harms is a found collage of karaoke singers who perform the songs that interrogators blared nonstop for twenty-four hours to physically and psychologically torture detainees.3 The sound …