Monday, 22 March 2010

Feminist Theory - representation, the matrixial gaze

I also found a piece of writing by Maggie Humm who quotes Hirsch 1986 saying "modernist women address the increasing specularity of culture, as well as modernity's visual objectification of women by interweaving the objective with the subjective in visual images which, while acknowledging the material primacy of objects, do not privilege materiality at the expense of the psychic".

Humm goes on to say the following, " Where 'strategies' of representation in the visual arts, from painting to photography to film, have been institutionalised to lure our gaze and suture our desire to that which culture wishes to fix us', Pollock argues, 'Lichtenberg Ettinger's method permits a glimpse of another kind of vanishing point, a matrixial gaze', which is 'distinct' from the usual 'confrontation between practice and popular cultures' (Pollock 1994a). The characteristics of such a method resemble Woolf's modernist experiments; a use of fragmentary images, interruptions of linearity, traces of the imaginary and intricately worked surfaces".

Parallax - The Visible and The Invisible

Been thinking about the concept of parallax, how the same phenomenon looks different from different angles or perspectives and how that is an aspect of what this project is about. The visible and the invisible, the 'personality' and 'identity' of an individual that we can see on a daily basis, or that we can recognise in ourselves and then the hidden depths, the unconscious archetypal patterns that are there also, that influence our actions and behaviour but cannot be seen directly. They can be known but not seen. I have been looking at the work of Virginia Woolf, who concerns herself with both visible and 'invisible' vision, and the philosophical discourse around the concept of seeing and knowing. In effect the difference between our mode of cognition, the socially agreed designations for the material world and our subjective experience or consciousness.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Logistics are my arch nemesis

i hearby solemnly vow never to do a project for this ma again that requires relying on people other than myself. I am experiencing what can only be described as an ongoing logistical nightmare. i have one person who i can shoot this evening. two are free tomorrow but the studio is fully booked. three are free on saturday....but the studio is fully booked. nobody is free as things currently stand what with their jobs, childcare, or uni commitments on thur (i am free!!) or friday (yes, i am also free!!). The concept for each of the remaining shoots is crystal clear in my mind, it has been for weeks, i simply cannot get into the studio to actually do it. this would all be fine if there was not a looming deadline.

and breathe......

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Rainer Marie Rilke

I am learning to see.
I don't know why it is,
but everything enters me more deeply and doesn't stop where it once used to.
I have an interior that I never knew of...
What's the use of telling someone that I am changing?
If I'm changing, I am no longer who I was;
and if I am something else
it's obvious that I have no acquaintances.
And I can't possibly write to strangers.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Faust - Goethe

"Gestaltung, Umgestaltung des ewigen Sinnes ewige Unterhaltung" - "Change and change and transformation, the eternal meanings, eternal transformation"

Thursday, 11 March 2010


Found the following written online by Ellie Crystal. Typically the trickster is known to be able to switch gender or rather is neither one gender nor the other, but is still usually referred to in most writings as male, which is a bit silly.

"The trickster is a very important archetype in the history of humankind. He is a god, yet he is not. He is the “wise fool.” It is he, through his creations that destroy, who points out flaws in the carefully constructed societies of humankind. He rebels against authority, pokes fun at the overly serious, creates convoluted schemes that may or may not work, plays with the Laws of the Universe, and is sometimes his own worst enemy. He exists to question, and to cause us to question and not accept things blindly. He appears when a way of thinking that has become outmoded needs to be torn down and built anew. He is the Destroyer of Worlds and at the same time, the savior of us all.”

The Trickster lives inside and outside of Time. He is of our world, yet not of our world, so our laws will not always apply. Among other mythological images, symbols associated with him include keys, clocks, masks, and infinity.

The Trickster is a creator, a joker, a truth teller, a storyteller, a transformer.

We seem most accessible to the synchronistic gifts of the Trickster when we ourselves are at or near boundaries or are experiencing transition states - periods of major life transitions that seem to be occasioned by an abundance of meaningful coincidence. Personal growth sees not only to facilitate synchronicity, but also in turn, to be facilitated by it. As an archetype, the Trickster, the boundary dweller, finds expression through human imagination and experience."

Trickster Archetype

"Many native traditions held clowns and tricksters as essential to any contact with the sacred. People could not pray until they had laughed, because laughter opens and frees from rigid preconception. Humans had to have tricksters within the most sacred ceremonies for fear that they forget the sacred comes through upset, reversal, surprise. The trickster in most native traditions is essential to creation, to birth".

Byrd Gibbens, Professor of English at University of Arkansas at Little Rock; quoted epigraph in Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin, 2001

The Polish Connection!

Just had helpful meeting with the wonderful woman who is going to be the trickster archetype for my project. busy teaching schedules however means she is not free until the 25th of march, but i think it is going to be really really interesting. we were definitely speaking the same language. She is polish and so we had a great conversation about Krakow and Poland generally, which combined with all this talk of tricksters led her to lend me a book by Polish photographer/artist/writer called Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz. Utterly brilliant inspiring stuff. The following quote by him is the opening to the book.....and I could not agree more with the sentiment. It speaks very clearly of the self reflexivity and understanding that Jung championed in his work on archetypes.

..."it is not enough to exist simply, non-reflectively, passively, negatively, it is necessary to manifest one's existence more clearly, against the background of possible death and surrounding nothingness"

Monday, 1 March 2010

Baudrillard, Simulacra and female representations.

Starting to get my head around some of the theory in the digital cultures module (i think!!). The problem has been one of many unfamiliar concepts and philosophies I am not well versed in. Today at last I really understand why the whole simulacra/simulation idea is relevant to the field of digital imaging, it's blatantly obvious in hindsight but was so cloaked in jargon and video game references that I could not see the proverbial forest for the trees. Found this passage today which helped clarify some things. Gone back to Baudrillard......seeing as the name keeps cropping up everywhere...

"Once we have something in a computer, we gain unprecedented control over it. We can change, distort, or rearrange a photograph without damaging the original. This control has interesting consequences in a Baudrillardian perspectives. For the author of Simulacra and Simulation the successive phases of the image are:

it is the reflection of a profound reality;
it masks and denatures a profound reality;
it masks the absence of a profound reality;
it has no relation to any reality whatsoever it is its own pure simulacrum. "

Suddenly an overlap becomes apparent between Baudrillard's theories and the feminist theories I have started researching for my project. In thinking about female representations the concept of a simulacra is a potent one. Much has been made in the media recently about female body issues and the prevalence of digitally manipulated ideals that grace the covers of magazines offering impossible to achieve levels of beauty and physical perfection. In effect a simulacra has been created, something without its own reality, a signifier without a corresponding signified, against which women judge themselves and find themselves lacking. There have been calls recently to force magazines to identify when a significant degree of image manipulation has occurred and I think this is important. These images are in Plato's words and as stated in Charles Levin's Jean Baudrillard, A Study in Cultural Metaphysics, a "destabilizing corruption of the norm." Bring back a recognisable version of reality so we can begin to reclaim what is true from the current prevalent fiction or at least tell us when it is fiction and stop trying to pass it off as truth. Rant over.