Those Were The Days That Were by Gareth Evans
Moving House Movies
9 March 2011
We launched APEngine with the Kubrick Archive inspired films made by Animation students at the London College of Communication as a ‘live brief’ project. As part of their latest project, LCC ...
Seeing things as we are…
3 February 2011
Image by Jeremy James with original Photography by Hugo Glendinning Courtesy of Steve Jackman Michael Carlson and Michael Atavar reflect on recent experiences of the intersection between artist ...
Arts Council England axes Animate Projects
28 January 2011
We are very sorry to announce that Animate is likely to close down at the end of March 2011, following Arts Council England’s decision not to fund our 2011 programme. Animate ...
Len Lye at Ikon by Edwin Rostron
26 January 2011
Len Lye - Free Radicals, 1958 The Body Electric runs until 13th February 2011 at Ikon. “Some nights I’d have a dream that my five senses were taken out of my skull, ...
A structure for possible films by Ajay RS Hothi
20 January 2011
Scherzo, Joe Diebes Ryan Tre-who?  Oh, him?  He’s so oh-ten and that was, like, a decade ago or whatever? I think we can take it as read that we are now living ...
Those Were The Days That Were by Gareth Evans
Memo, Courtesy of Emily Richardson

Memo Mori, image courtesy of Emily Richardson

Memory isn’t what it used to be. Once upon, it was a path, a bridge, a way back to go forward; a shared understanding (if only with oneself), always provisional, always fluid, different each time. But it was about something that mattered – for better, for worse – and it was a kind of glue, a foundation, certainly a mixed metaphor. It made us who we are, and it was widely accepted that it was a good thing to have memories, and a bad thing to have them stripped from you by the ruinations of neural collapse or by the erasure of all those arenas – home, objects, loved ones, locale, community – in which memory reposed.

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Memo Mori, Emily Richardson

Now, memory is water off a duck’s back to the potentates of this culture. Memory, when it is deployed by the larger forces pressing on us, becomes a tool to enable more efficient selling. This is less memory than nostalgia, certainly revisionism and simply wrong. The market deliberately severs us from memory, and therefore from a sense of actual and abiding, grounded and ongoing needs, replacing this with a machinery grinding inexorably forward to satisfy desires as yet unnamed, unknown, unfelt, each inevitably inadequate previous purchase dissolving like ‘tears in rain’, like footprints in wet sand.

In geographic terms, cultural tourism embodies this process in motion; it is a journey into the opposite of memory. The more it occurs, the more it undoes what it seeks. People think they’re visiting a site soaked in memory (the reason for going) but that place no longer exists. It is lost beneath the permanent present of an image, taken over and over endlessly for a future in which it will likely never againbe viewed. (See Martin Parr’s Small World).

Let’s go to the shop first – conveniently placed at the entrance and exit. Let’s buy the postcard (“everything becomes a postcard in the end” – Don DeLillo). Let’s take a photograph and look at that instead. Let’s not look while we take the photograph. Let’s keep moving. Let’s never stop.

On the largest platform, Climate Change evidences the complete failure of species memory, and memory’s ability – theoretically – to allow us to learn from history, memory’s content. One of the salient purposes of memory is that it allows us to appreciate something that has happened, and before it happens again. In terms of ecological and civilisation, climate change does not, of course, discriminate in its effect on zones of time – it will undo the past, the present and the future.

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip, Leo Murray

Jean-Luc Godard, in his 2001 feature Eloge de l’amour, quotes US Senator McBride’s prophetically succinct 1912 observation that “trade follows films.” In three words, one finds the Faustian pact between culture and commerce, and the enabling structure of free market globalization encapsulated, through the ‘soft’ propagandising of popular culture.

It could be argued that trade, while it lived out the implications of its originating impulse, was an exemplar of the fecund exchange of memory, of the spread of various forms of personal and collective remembering, incarnated in the artefact sold or bartered. It was about craft and an artisan commitment to the ‘good’ made and offered, about a standard of value by which one would succeed or sink on the intercontinental or intra-local sales routes. The term, after all, suggests a dialogue. Trade, now misleadingly labelled ‘free’, prompts the eradication of all but product, ‘free’ certainly, but of origins and its real cost. (See the interdisciplinary work of Platform).

Such a system however, like any, generates its own internal counterbalance, a kind of check. So we find fair trade and organic certifications and a plethora of other honourable initiatives, as also in those zones mentioned above. But, if McBride is right, the image must be central to this process of re-calibration. Far from providing a comment on the affairs of the world, the image can fairly be said to make the world, to create event, which it then replicates on a colossal scale. And in a very active sense, it can reproduce itself without the need of a partner. In this sense its time has come, it has truly found its zeitgeist.

Trailer for The Age of Stupid by Franny Armstrong

Given this, there needs to be a wholesale re-imagination of the nature, role and means of circulation of the image. The image needs to resist and redirect its own appropriated agency and needs once again, in terms of its own trade, to begin to speak to an authentic index of experience, to find a fresh expression of its inherent impulse towards empowerment. (See Nijuman No Borei, (200,000 phantôms) by Jean-Gabriel Périot).

And perhaps, as so many filmmakers have discovered, there is no better place to start than in the archive, among the discarded, ignored and even incarcerated arcades of the luminous. Maybe it is there that the lived memory of histories large and small can be retrieved and re-presented, all the better to sow within us the possibilities of a future in which the future might arrive. (See An Atlas of Radical Cartography reviewed on We Make Money Not Art.)

About the Author: Gareth Evans is a writer, editor and curator. See Go Together Press.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 | Tagged with , , ,

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