Sunday, October 21, 2012

Re-visiting Goldfields

I’m tired today.  Expended a lot of energy over the last few days thinking and chatting and questioning and pondering – with some very good friends and some decent enough wine.  It’s exhausting though, really, that kind of banter – but in a good way, of course.  We were gathered at a conference where I co-chaired a panel on time and memory in lens-based media, which included presentations by Lisa Zaher and Leigh-Ann Pahapill, who also co-wrote the essay for my video installation of the Goldfields work in Australia this last summer at Screen Space.  So, it was great to get a chance to bring that thinking back around to some things that came up on the panel as well as the dialogue between Lisa and Leigh-Ann that is archived within the essay itself.

Like I said though, I’m tired right now and my brain is a tad mushed.  So, I need to sit with this all some more before I can write coherently about it.  Because I need to.  For several reasons. I’ll be giving a talk on this work in Asheville, North Carolina in December as part of the Media Arts Project (MAP), Off the MAP lecture series, and so I’d like to write up a new talk that pulls in my recent research in relation to that work.  I’ll also be showing this work again in Portland, Oregon in February (no contract in hand yet, so I’ll wait to officially announce venue) and giving a talk there as well.  And then I have the amazing opportunity to show the video in relation to the still photographs in a large gallery space at Murray State University in Kentucky next August.  I plan to possibly reconfigure the video sequences for this show and play around extensively with installation in terms of projecting video onto variously sized and placed surfaces (moveable walls) and also with the scale of the photographs and presentation methods.  And finally I’m planning to write up a response to the dialogue between Leigh-Ann and Lisa that points to the role the still photographs play in this work alongside the video (as the dialogue within their essay refers to a specific incarnation of the video work as a triple-screen projection, and not to the project as a whole – if there even is such a thing).

But, I went back and looked at an old email that I sent to Lisa and Leigh-Ann after the essay for the catalogue was finished, and I think this serves as a good starting point for my own writing/response.

“On another note, I wanted to be sure I let you both know how much I appreciate your incredibly close read of my work.  I struggle quite a bit with reconciling form and content and am often left frustrated by conversations with others that fixate too much on one or the other, without taking time to consider how one informs the other - often resulting in a lack of authentic engagement and/or a type of engagement that is detrimentally bound to an assumed discourse.  It's really hard for me to keep working photographically sometimes - but I think I just need to keep working toward finding the right audience.

But, my point is - I'm left incredibly encouraged by the response the two of you had.  You've both beautifully articulated so much of what I've been thinking about/working toward over the last several years.  It's like a big fucking sigh of relief!

Quickly though, I just want to share a passage from each of you that I had a strong response to, and that related perfectly to my thinking:

from Lisa,
" But in Goldfields, what is the entity that becomes known, and who or what performs the acts of knowledge?  Do we interpret Goldfields as addressing selfhood and Being, or cultural memory and historical belonging, or medium-specificity?  Or, is there something about the nature of Goldfields, its subject matter, its media and form of address, that brings together an inquiry into the ontological status of Being, history, and photographic media in a manner that is not a trivial overlapping of three divergent questions, but rather a claim to the fundamentally integral character of all three?

from Leigh-Ann,
"I want specifically to raise the issue of the relationship of lens-based practices to truth, and in particular to wonder what is at stake when the documentary image shifts in and out (as I feel it does here) of ‘authenticity’ and whether this failure to fix representation allows Dawn to represent the unrepresentable.  Put another way, does her refusal to determine, to reconcile, and to identify a politic, a point of view allow a glimpse into what structures the axiomatic presentation, to the view of what in-consists, the impure multiplicity,to the multiple units of thought by which we create meaning?"

I’ll continue this thought next week…..
FYI - the entire essay referred to above can be downloaded from my website HERE.

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