All posts filed under: Issue 29

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 …

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, …