“One can recognize…”

«
I am still bewildered and enchanted by landscape. It is exclusively experiential. There is no other way to know it. A landscape is something that is too complex in itself to express in any other form. It is experiential or it is nothing. (…) I am fascinated by things that are not what they appear to be. As well, I am interested in things that don’t reduce. Things that, by nature, are complex.
»

Roni Horn. In e-flux newsletter: October 12, 2017.

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Wim Wenders on his Polaroids

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It’s not just the meaning of the image that has changed – the act of looking does not have the same meaning. Now, it’s about showing, sending and maybe remembering. It is no longer essentially about the image. The image for me was always linked to the idea of uniqueness, to a frame and to composition. You produced something that was, in itself, a singular moment. As such, it had a certain sacredness. That whole notion is gone. (…) At the time, it was part of everyday life, another thing you used for living – like food and air and the stinky cars we were driving and the cigarettes everyone was smoking. Today, making a Polaroid is just a process. (…) The culture has changed. It has all gone. I really don’t know why we stick to the word photography any more. There should be a different term, but nobody cared about finding it.
»

Wim Wenders, in conversation with Sean O’Hagan. In The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/oct/12/wim-wenders-interview-polaroids-instant-stories-photographers-gallery

A nossa península já foi sábia

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Ouçamos o mais velho de todos os sábios peninsulares. Também nasceu em Córdova, há pouco mais de dois mil anos: Séneca. Explicou no seu A Constância da Sabedoria (bom título, bom título) que o sábio é aquele que, na verdade, só é vencido pela sua facilidade em sentir-se insultado e a sua vontade de humilhar. Ceder a essas fraquezas é a verdadeira derrota. Resistir ao orgulho, condição para a convivência, a verdadeira vitória. A última frase de Séneca, assim contextualizando o que ele entende como verdadeira vitória (sobre nós mesmos e não sobre os outros) diz assim: “não se dar por vencido é ser mais forte que o destino e, assim, fazer parte da república do género humano”. Ainda vale a pena meditar bem no que queria dizer com isto o mais velho sábio da nossa península, e agir em conformidade.
»

Rui Tavares. In Público: https://acervo.publico.pt/2017/10/10/mundo/noticia/a-nossa-peninsula-ja-foi-sabia-1788398

Legitimar a ideia de igualdade

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Não é apenas a globalização que produz as desigualdades. São também as economias em que se pode dizer que ‘the winner takes all’. Aquele que tem mais capacidade para marcar golos num jogo de futebol, vai ganhar mais 10 ou 100 vezes que os outros. E uma cultura – direi mesmo uma ideologia – em que pensamos que o sucesso de um colectivo repousa grosso modo do sucesso de um pequeno número de indivíduos. Volto a insistir. Há uma verdadeira dimensão ideológica que se traduz no consentimento da desigualdade. Da mesma maneira, podemos também dizer que é a chegada de uma nova economia da inovação. E a inovação quer dizer precisamente, que um pequeno número de pessoas consegue acumular uma riqueza enorme. Estou a falar da Microsoft, do Google, do Facebook, etc. Não é só a globalização, são as condições da economia, que também levaram a um consentimento forte da desigualdade. Porque elas são vistas como legítimas. E é esse o grande problema: para lutar contra as desigualdades, temos de lutar contra o consentimento das desigualdades.
»

Pierre Rosanvallon, interviewed by Teresa de Sousa. In Público: https://www.publico.pt/2017/09/26/mundo/entrevista/e-preciso-voltar-a-legitimar-a-ideia-de-igualdade-1786621?page=/pierre-rosanvallon&pos=1&b=list_section

Gathered Leaves

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I think we can’t escape the fact that we live in a time in which the term “image flood” seems outdated. This term was already coined in the 1980s, and right now it’s more about a tsunami. In this very moment, millions of images are being uploaded on the Internet. I don’t want to turn back time, but I think that gallery spaces offer the possibility for a kind of meditation that separates the experience of taking in pictures from the act of scrolling, zapping from one picture to another, of “liking”, of seeing how many of your own photos are liked… we’ve developed a mode of operating on the Internet where we consider it no issue to forget one picture after only seconds we see it, because we’re already on to the next one. Exhibition spaces, on the other hand, give images room to breathe. (…) You can spend half an hour in front of an image. And you use your own movements as a zoom. Step back, come closer — to understand the context of an image within a room, or then to lose yourself in a detail. The experience involves all of the senses, the whole body — and maybe also interactions with others. It’s a little like going through a city and not listening to music on your own, but to share a song together with someone. And to perceive sensations that we all share as humans in reaction to something. And that’s not something you can achieve when looking at a tablet or a smart phone. And for that exact reason, I’m totally relaxed about the continuing relevance of exhibition halls. It all has to exist, all serve a purpose — but I’m convinced that the role of museums and galleries will not become obsolete.
»

Ingo Taubhorn, interviewed by Clemens Poloczek. (Also an interview with Alec Soth, well worth the read). In iGNANT: https://www.ignant.com/2017/09/08/alec-soths-tender-view-on-american-realities/

Around duty free art

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– Once, you asked, Is the internet dead? I’d like to ask you now, Is the future dead?
– No, just exhausted, consumed and depleted. This is not new either: “No future” was the slogan from my teens. So, maybe believing the future is dead has become a conservative default position by now. Instead, one needs to get on with it and just try for the best.
»

Hito Steyerl, interviewed by Shumon Basar. In TANK Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 1:
https://tankmagazine.com/issue-72/talk/hito-steyerl/

A word on ‘pace’

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The current fashion is for valuing ‘speed’, the assumption being that slowness is not just boring, but wasteful because inefficient. The first question in communication as in other social practices might have to be ‘What is a humane pace’ or even ‘ What is human pace, under present social conditions?’, ‘Under what conditions is slowness of pace essential?’. The pace of technological change cannot possibly be mirrored by social institutions, even though that seems intended in calls to accommodate to every innovation as a means of furthering efficiencies: the ceaseless restructurings of organizations are one such symptom, as it the requirements of individuals constantly to adapt.
The more urgent question is to reflect  what the relation between technological, institutional, social and human pace should be. Society cannot hope to mimic the pace inherent in every technological innovation, nor should it attempt to do so. In a healthy sociality, social, human aims and purposes must take precedence.
»

Gunther Kress, “Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication”. London: Routledge, 2010, p. 29-30.

What does this mean?

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It is worth emphasizing that there is no single or ‘correct’ answer to this question, ‘What does this image mean?’ or ‘What is this ad saying?’ Since there is no law which can guarantee that things will have ‘one, true meaning’, or that meanings won’t change over time, work in thi area is bound to be interpretative – a debate between, not who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’, but between equally plausible, though sometimes competing and contesting, meanings and interpretations. The best way to ‘settle’ such contested readings is to look again at the concrete example and try to justify one’s ‘reading’ in detail in relation to the actual practices and forms of signification used, and what meanings they seem to you to be producing.
»

Stuart Hall, “Introduction”. In S. Hall (ed.), “Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: SAGE Publishing, p. 9.

Teaching Humility in an Age of Arrogance

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We need to incorporate intellectual humility — what John Dewey called the “scientific attitude” — as a cultural norm. “Merely legal guarantees of the civil liberties of free belief, free expression, free assembly are of little avail,” Dewey noted, “if in daily life freedom of communication, the give and take of ideas, facts, experiences, is choked by mutual suspicion, by abuse, by fear and hatred.”
Dewey knew that democracies can’t function if their citizens don’t have conviction — an apathetic electorate is no electorate at all. But our democracy also can’t function if we don’t seek, at least some of the time, to inhabit a common space where we can listen to each other and trade reasons back and forth. And that’s one reason that teaching our students the value of empathy, of reasons and dialogue, and the value and nature of evidence itself, is crucial — in fact, now more than ever. Encouraging evidential epistemologies helps combat intellectual arrogance.
Overcoming toxic arrogance is not easy, and our present political moment is not making it any easier. But if we want to live in a tolerant society where we are not only open-minded but willing to learn from others, we need to balance humility and conviction. We can start by looking past ourselves — and admitting that we don’t know it all.
»

Michael Patrick Lynch, “Teaching Humility in an Age of Arrogance”. In The Chronicle Review: http://www.chronicle.com/article/Teaching-Humility-in-an-Age-of/240266?utm_content=bufferd866d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

For the first time

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Is it because we saw something already that we think we don’t need to see it any longer? On the contrary, when we show something everyone has seen, it is perhaps at that point we see if for the first time. The woman, her back to us, pulls out potatoes, Delphine, my mother, yourself. A woman, yes, but a corridor for a minute? A tree?
»

Chantal Akerman. In https://www.instagram.com/criterioncollection/