This Was Now

Apologies go out to to a certain someone for having to sit through this next academic post. This person must realize that he is not the only audience to my madness… that he joins friends, family, and yes, even former employers (I stress former here, as it is very likely after some posts that I stand very little chance of rehiring). I hope the last bit of “low brow” posting will hold him over for a bit.

Yesterdays events featured a lecture from Laura Mulvey. The topic of discussion was contemporary art work standing on the threshold between the old and the new. Mulvey gave a loosely organized lecture and managed to jump around, mentioning several references and hinting at ideas not fully developed. She did, however, present one interesting example.

Jeff Wall’s A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)

Katsushika Hokusai’s South Wind, Clear Weather (from 36 views of Mt. Fuji)

In the Hokusai example, the artist aspires to the yet-to-be-invented instantaneous nature of photography. Through his art, he looks to povide the illusion of a frozen moment, a temporality.

In contrast, Jeff Wall, through his digitally composited print, commemorates the death of the instantaneous moment. Lost to the digital age, in which a collage can take the form of a seemless photograph, the photographic referent bridges the boundary between old and new. The two eras find a dialectical relation… the painted image that presents the illusion of the Cartier-Bressonian decisive moment while at the same time hiding the linear time that went into its creation; and the new freedoms in composition that have been afforded through digital photography that serve to disrupt the indexical relationship to “the moment” that the photograph once retained sole possession of.

Is the digital age ushering in a new postmodernism, one in which the imiginary linearity offered by modernism is poked at, questioned, and manipulated by postmodernism?

This reminds me of Francis Picabia’s Portrait of a Doctor which, created between 1935 and 1938, Picabia later signed and dated with a misleading 1925.


3 Responses to “This Was Now”

  1. Larry Solitrin Says:

    Not only has it held me over, but has given me faith not only in your intelect but of your sense of humor. A humor that I miss and therefore in my own way solicited.

    Nonetheless, this digital age has just given way to imagery which although appreciated for what it is…must still be questioned. That does not make it any less artful except when the process in the end gives us nothing to think about, or is at the expense of the viewer. It is not pure but is still art.

    “That certain someone”

  2. mom Says:

    OK, both of you



  3. Aviv Says:

    I find it funny that you appologize for the lack of “Low-Brow” in your post, yet your Picabia picture you’ve referenced is covered in what looks like Ball Sacks.

    Love to Mr. Larry and Ms. Harriet.

    And the good lady Justin.

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