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136

The Material Image

6
terms
2
notes

Tony Wood on Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen

Wood, T. (2013). The Material Image. In Left Review, N. New Left Review 82. New Left Review Ltd, pp. 136-144

a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments

137

Her modus operandi often involves taking a deadpan, seemingly literal-minded stance on a given concept or question in order to shed light on its contradictions, before then making an unexpected dialectical reversal.

—p.137 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago

Her modus operandi often involves taking a deadpan, seemingly literal-minded stance on a given concept or question in order to shed light on its contradictions, before then making an unexpected dialectical reversal.

—p.137 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago

relating to stone and gems and the work involved in engraving, cutting, or polishing

137

Her writing style is at once free-ranging and lapidary

—p.137 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago

Her writing style is at once free-ranging and lapidary

—p.137 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago
138

Although Steyerl’s arguments in some cases unfold at a relatively abstract level, several of the essays address more directly the character of the art world itself, and its role in beautifying neoliberal capitalism. ‘Contemporary art feeds on the crumbs of a massive and widespread redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich’, Steyerl writes, adding that ‘it lends primordial accumulation a whiff of post-conceptual razzmatazz’. Art also mirrors the forms of present-day capitalism itself: on the one hand the figure of the artist offers a flattering model for autocrats and financier-patrons—‘unpredictable, unaccountable, brilliant, mercurial’—while on the other, the production of art depends on increasing amounts of precarious labour. In Steyerl’s view, unpaid interns and part-timers form a ‘reserve army of imagination’ that makes the mega-shows and Guggenheims of the world’s oligarchies possible. Exploitation within the art world tends to remain invisible in the art that is produced, however; even in ‘political art’, Steyerl observes, politics is ‘always happening elsewhere’.

—p.138 by Tony Wood 2 years, 7 months ago

Although Steyerl’s arguments in some cases unfold at a relatively abstract level, several of the essays address more directly the character of the art world itself, and its role in beautifying neoliberal capitalism. ‘Contemporary art feeds on the crumbs of a massive and widespread redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich’, Steyerl writes, adding that ‘it lends primordial accumulation a whiff of post-conceptual razzmatazz’. Art also mirrors the forms of present-day capitalism itself: on the one hand the figure of the artist offers a flattering model for autocrats and financier-patrons—‘unpredictable, unaccountable, brilliant, mercurial’—while on the other, the production of art depends on increasing amounts of precarious labour. In Steyerl’s view, unpaid interns and part-timers form a ‘reserve army of imagination’ that makes the mega-shows and Guggenheims of the world’s oligarchies possible. Exploitation within the art world tends to remain invisible in the art that is produced, however; even in ‘political art’, Steyerl observes, politics is ‘always happening elsewhere’.

—p.138 by Tony Wood 2 years, 7 months ago

causing vertigo, especially by being extremely high or steep

138

This vertiginous shift coincides with a condition of disorientation, of groundlessness.

—p.138 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago

This vertiginous shift coincides with a condition of disorientation, of groundlessness.

—p.138 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago

(adjective) being or presenting a comprehensive or panoramic view

138

in the panoptic present of Google Earth and the like

—p.138 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago

in the panoptic present of Google Earth and the like

—p.138 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago
141

[...] The thought that we might be the rubble implies that history will advance without us, protagonized by other subjects; we would be left in the position of Kafka, who maintained that there was ‘plenty of hope—but not for us’. Would this seeming abandonment of agency really be desirable? Steyerl might counter that the very phenomenon of subjective agency is beset with contradictions; the purpose of identifying with and ‘activating the thing’ was to skirt them. But the appeal to the object’s inert potential arguably relies on a reification of the subject–object split, whereas it would surely make more sense to retain a sense of the mutually interwoven, fundamentally mediated character of both; as Adorno put it in a late essay ‘On Subject and Object’, ‘the difference between subject and object slices through subject as well as through object’. The goal might then be not so much to identify with the object, to become the rubble of history, as to gain a demystified, non-alienated knowledge of its differentiation from the subject. Adorno again: ‘Knowledge of the object is brought closer by the act of the subject rending the veil it weaves about the object. It can do this only when, passive, without anxiety, it entrusts itself to its own experience.’

—p.141 by Tony Wood 2 years, 7 months ago

[...] The thought that we might be the rubble implies that history will advance without us, protagonized by other subjects; we would be left in the position of Kafka, who maintained that there was ‘plenty of hope—but not for us’. Would this seeming abandonment of agency really be desirable? Steyerl might counter that the very phenomenon of subjective agency is beset with contradictions; the purpose of identifying with and ‘activating the thing’ was to skirt them. But the appeal to the object’s inert potential arguably relies on a reification of the subject–object split, whereas it would surely make more sense to retain a sense of the mutually interwoven, fundamentally mediated character of both; as Adorno put it in a late essay ‘On Subject and Object’, ‘the difference between subject and object slices through subject as well as through object’. The goal might then be not so much to identify with the object, to become the rubble of history, as to gain a demystified, non-alienated knowledge of its differentiation from the subject. Adorno again: ‘Knowledge of the object is brought closer by the act of the subject rending the veil it weaves about the object. It can do this only when, passive, without anxiety, it entrusts itself to its own experience.’

—p.141 by Tony Wood 2 years, 7 months ago

(noun) an expression of real or pretended doubt or uncertainty especially for rhetorical effect / (noun) a logical impasse or contradiction / (noun) a radical contradiction in the import of a text or theory that is seen in deconstruction as inevitable

141

these concerns produce, as noted above, an uneasy aporia: on the one hand the liberatory promise of a revolution spanning the worlds of political subjects and objects; on the other, a bleak refraction of Benjamin’s thesis on the philosophy of history

—p.141 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago

these concerns produce, as noted above, an uneasy aporia: on the one hand the liberatory promise of a revolution spanning the worlds of political subjects and objects; on the other, a bleak refraction of Benjamin’s thesis on the philosophy of history

—p.141 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago

an excessive amount of something

142

the surfeit of digital image-production—spam advertising being the most abundant—is neither the swarm of wish-fulfilment fantasies nor the tool of domination it is often taken to be

—p.142 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago

the surfeit of digital image-production—spam advertising being the most abundant—is neither the swarm of wish-fulfilment fantasies nor the tool of domination it is often taken to be

—p.142 by Tony Wood
notable
2 years, 7 months ago