Issue cover
24: Deformations

No. 24: De-formations

Managing editor: Katarzyna Bojarska

Blue, Derek Jarman, 1993. Photo Liam Daniel. Courtesy and copyright Basilisk Communications Ltd

This issue was supported by the Polish Minister of Science and Higher Education, from the funds of the program for the popularization of scholarship in 2017, and by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, from the Fund for the Promotion of Culture.

Table of Contents

Introduction

  1. De-formations

    ”De-formations”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/01en

    Introduction to issue 24 "De-formations".

  2. Douglas Crimp: A Farewell

    ”Douglas Crimp: A Farewell ”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://doi.org/10.36854/02en

    A farewell to Douglas Crimp.

Close-Up

  1. Blindness and Visual Culture. An Eyewitness Account

    Georgina Kleege , ”Blindness and Visual Culture ”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2019/24-de-formacje/slepota-a-kultura-wizualna

    This essay comments on W.J.T. Mitchell’s statement that ‘Visual culture entails a meditation on blindness, the invisible, the unseen, the unseeable, and the overlooked’. If visual studies entails a meditation on blindness, it is this article’s hope that it will avoid some of the missteps of similar meditations of the past. Specifically, it hopes that visual studies can abandon one of the stock characters of the western philosophical tradition: the ‘Hypothetical Blind Man’, who serves as a prop for theories about consciousness. This figure is considered briefly in the theories of Descartes, Locke and Diderot, then it is compared with first-hand accounts of blindness from the autobiographies of blind people written in the 19th and 20th centuries.

    keywords: blind autobiography; blindness; visual culture; seeing; disability studies; philosophy of perception

  2. “Splendid Deformities”. An Emancipatory Critique of Cultural Homogeneity in Sin-ying Ho’s Deformed Ceramics

    Alex Burchmore, ”“Splendid Deformities””, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2019/24-de-formations/splendid-deformities

    This paper identifies an aesthetic of deformation in contemporary porcelain sculptures by Hong Kong-born, New York-based artist Sin-ying Ho. A selection of these are discussed with reference to three historic case-studies in ceramic deformity: wares that have been malformed when fired due to negligence, lack of vigilance, or misfortune; wares that have transformed in the kiln due to allegedly mysterious powers; and the eighteenth-century fashion for chinoiserie as a style of the monstrous, deformed and obscene. With reference to these case-studies, it is argued that Sin-ying Ho’s ceramic sculptures represent deformity as something to be celebrated, endorsing an emancipatory narrative of diversity and open-minded tolerance.

    keywords: deformation; porcelain; Sin-ying Ho; ceramic; chinoiserie

  3. The Medium of the Present. Rauschenberg’s Displaced Method

    Paweł Mościcki, ”The Medium of the Present”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2019/24-de-formations/the-medium-of-the-present

    The article is devoted to Robert Rauschenberg’s Thirty-Four Illustrations for Dante’s ‘Inferno’ from 1958-1960. Instead of focusing on the allegorical or symbolic aspects of this project, the author tries to analyze the historicity that stems from the artist’s specific method – or as the article tries to prove: quasi-technique – of “solvent transfer” invented not long before the work on illustrations and developed during its realization. The article discusses this method in juxtaposition with two important contributions to the discussions about the importance of the artist’s technique for the understanding of his or her broader significance. The first is George Didi-Huberman’s book on the imprint as a prototype for anachronistic reflection on art, the second – Jacques Derrida’s essay on Artonin Artaud’s drawings and his practice of “unsensing the subjectile. While drawing upon those two texts the author of the article analyzes various aspects of temporality implicated in the method of solvent transfer and thus also in the project of Dante’s reading.

    keywords: Dante Alighieri; Robert Rauschenberg; solvent transfer; Georges Didi-Huberman; Jacques Derrida

  4. The Colour of History

    Tomasz Szerszeń, ”The Colour of History”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2019/24-de-formations/the-colour-of-history

    Does History has its own colour? And what about the colour of disaster? Where does it meet with reflection on photography? This essay combines considerations on the use of colours in Boris Mikhailov’s photography and their historiosophical role in reflection on the decline of the Soviet Union and the years of transformation, with the question about “Chernobyl effect” in Soviet and post-Soviet society, especially in the context of political visibility / invisibility of radiation.

    keywords: photography; Chernobyl; radiation; colors; Boris Mikhailov; Kharkiv School of Photography; history of the USSR; transformation; post-atomic visuality; catastrophe; atom; Stalker; iconoclasm; 1986

  5. Wreaths and Creases. The Case of Marianna Dolińska

    Sara Herczyńska, ”Wreaths and Creases. The Case of Marianna Dolińska”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2019/24-de-formations/wreaths-and-creases-the-case-of-marianna-dolinska

    The article concerns the photography commonly called “garland of children” (wianuszek z dzieci) and depicting four dead children hanged on a tree. The photo is from 1923 and shows the children of Marianna Dolińska killed by the mother. In the 1990s, this photography began to function extensively as an illustration of Volhynia massacre and crimes committed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army against Poles, appeared on book covers and became a model for a monument. The scratches present in the photograph have been interpreted as barbed wire. The author attempts to interpret the photography and its history as a symptom of repression of female violence.

    keywords: Marianna Dolińska; wreath of children; photography; Volhynia; violence; mental illness

Viewpoint

  1. Controlled Incidents

    Nikita Kadan, ”Controlled Incidents”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2019/24-de-formations/controlled-incidents

    A set of projects by Nikita Kadan.

  2. Nikita Kadan. Museum of Vegetation

    Joanna Sokołowska, ”Nikita Kadan. Museum of Vegetation”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2019/24-de-formations/museum-of-vegetation

    Commentary on Nikita Kadan's work.

    keywords: Nikita Kadan; memory; care; deformation; vegetation

  3. A Year in the Sanatorium

    Dorota Buczkowska, ”A Year in the Sanatorium”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2019/24-de-formations/a-year-in-the-sanatorium

    Presentation of the series A Year in the Sanatorium (2012-...) by Dorota Buczkowska. 

  4. Airlock

    Katarzyna Czeczot, Katarzyna Bojarska, ”Airlock”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2019/24-de-formations/airlock

    Commentary to the works by Dorota Buczkowska.

Panorama

  1. Last year in Marienbad. Images Wiped and Repressed

    Paulina Kwiatkowska, ”Last year in Marienbad”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2019/24-de-formacje/zeszlego-roku-w-marienbadzie

    Despite the dominant approach emphasizing visual and structural perfection of Last Year at Marienbad the aim of this article is to scrutinize less evident and more obscure images of Alain Resnais’s film form 1961. There are at least three sequences in this film difficult to interpret not only because of narrative or psychological complications implied in them but mostly because of its visual density and vagueness. These sequences are based on some technical manipulation – such as overexposure, rapid fade-out or burn-in, intense visual contrast and extremely fast cutting – leading to question not only the seemingly simple relation between film image and viewer but also the ontological, perceptual and aesthetical status of film image. Analysis of these particular means of film expression may lead to more complex interpretation of Last Year at Marienbad but most of all to posing some key questions concerning the limits of film perception and some scopic desires triggered by film modes of representation.

    keywords: film analysis, Alain Resnais, color in cinema, image deformation

  2. Facing that which Vanishes. The Case of the "Hidden Mother" Photographs in Fregni Nagler's Artistic Project

    Anna Zarychta, ”Facing that which Vanishes”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2019/24-de-formacje/twarza-do-tego-co-umyka

    The author analyses Linda F. Nagler's artistic project The Hidden Mother (2013). In particular, she discusses the publication accompanying the exhibition, which contains over a thousand photographs. The reading of all these objects has been determined by the title given to the publication, as well as the texts published at the end of the book. The basic question that has guided the deliberations undertaken in the present article concern who is not represented in the photographs? Also, how the title given to the exhibition and the album narrowed down the historical, social and cultural context of reading the presented images, reducing the discussions accompanying the photographs to the issue of the role and situation of mothers at the turn of the 19th century and to the technical difficulties of taking photographs of young children, while at the same time concentrating primarily on the specific bizarreness and uncanniness of the visual effect achieved.

    keywords: mother; photography; children; Linda F. Nagler

  3. „Strange Videos” and the Invisible Hand of the Algorithm

    Piotr Fortuna, ”„Strange Videos” and the Invisible Hand of the Algorithm”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2019/24-de-formacje/dziwne-filmiki-i-niewidzialna-reka-algorytmu

    Elsagate was a controversy surrounding so-called “weird kids’ videos” on YouTube which were targeted to toddlers but at the same time contained inappropriate motives, including sexual scenes and violence. The issue came to light in 2017 and attracted significant public attention, with reactions ranging from curiosity through dissenting voices to conspiracy theories. The author uses peculiarity of Elsagate videos as a key to the understanding of “platform capitalism” and its influence on social media users. He begins by comparing YouTube to television and cinema, with particular focus on the “cinema of attraction”, drawing on ideas from Teresa Rizzo and Tom Gunning. He argues that Elsagate is a symptom of profound cultural changes, depicted by Gilles Deleuze as a shift from disciplinary societies to societies of control. Consequently, the author interpret “weird kids’ videos” as the visible expression of the invisible algorithmic power which simultaneously exploits children and infantilizes grown-up people.

    keywords: Elsagate; YouTube; YouTube Kids; new media; social media; algorithmic culture; digital culture; digital images; cinema of attractions; society of control; Gilles Deleuze

  4. Archeological Prosthesis

    Monika Stobiecka, ”Archeological Prosthesis ”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2019/24-de-formacje/archeologiczna-proteza

    The conservation and reconstruction procedures presented at the exhibition in the new Acropolis Museum in Athens juxtapose the orders of materiality, virtuality and technology, reflecting the contemporary Zeitgeist - the search for completeness and the pursuit of the whole, which does not find points of contact with the sentimental aesthetics of the fragment. The author proposes to introduce a category of “archaeological prosthesis,” deconstructive in relation to the tradition of archaeological museums, which will tie up the threads that stand at the meeting point of studies on materiality, practical guidelines for conservation and digital turn in archaeology. The archaeological prosthesis will be understood as a substitute, an artificial supplement in the place of lack or deformity. The archaeological prosthesis will mean going beyond the visual dimension of digital media in archaeology, and at the same time it will be a material conservation effort with a tangible effect. This term will allow us to continue reflecting on the symbolic departure of reconstruction and conservation exhibitions from the "soft" humanities of archaeology and entering the dimension of "hard" science operating in the domain of objective virtual media and material conservation interventions.

    keywords: prosthesis; archaeological museum; archaeological heritage; conservation; technology studies

  5. Disabled Hamlet. A Few Words about the Revolution that Has Already Begun

    Katarzyna Ojrzyńska, ”Disabled Hamlet”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2019/24-de-formacje/niepelnosprawny-hamlet

    The article uses the figure of a disabled Hamlet as a starting point for discussion on the access of people with non-standard bodies to the acting profession. Approaching the problem from the perspective of contemporary cultural disability studies, it focuses on the ways in which artists from the UK and the USA have questioned and opposed this form of exclusion and criticized the popular strategy of casting non-disabled actors in the roles of disabled characters. Analysing quite recent statements made by Polish theatre and film practitioners, the author also examines the beginnings of new ways of thinking about actors and actresses with non-normative bodies in Polish performing arts.

    keywords: disability; actor; Hamlet; theater; film; body; disability studies

Perspectives

  1. Visual Lessons

    Bogna Burska , Joanne Morra et al., ”Visual Lessons ”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/en/archive/2019/24-de-formations/visual-lessons

    A transcript of the discussion Image Lessons. Visual Pedagogies in Troubled Times, which took place at the Institute of Polish Culture, University of Warsaw on December 18, 2018. 

    keywords: visual culture; visual pedagogy; critical pedagogy; art education; visual activism; social activism

Snapshots

  1. The Artist as a Witness. The memory of the Holocaust in the work of Władysław Strzemiński

    Agata Pietrasik, ”The Artist as a Witness”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2019/24-de-formacje/artysta-jako-swiadek

    Critical analysis of Luiza Nader's book entitled Afekt Strzemińskiego. „Teoria widzenia”, rysunki wojenne, Pamięci przyjaciół – Żydów (Strzeminski's Affect. "Theory of Seeing," war drawings, To the memory of friends - the Jews) Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, Warszawa 2019

    keywords: Luiza Nader; Władysław Strzemiński; affect; memory; theory of vision

  2. I'll Play a Game. What Game? Capitalism

    Łukasz Moll, ”I'll Play a Game”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2019/24-de-formacje/bede-gral-w-gre

    Review of the Polish edition of the book Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games, by Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter published as Gry Imperium. Globalny kapitalizm i gry wideo Nick Dye-Witheforda  Greig de Peuter, przeł. Krzysztof Abriszewski, Paweł Gąska, Adrian Zabielski (Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Michała Kopernika, Toruń 2019).

    keywords: capitalism; video games; e-sport; gamification

  3. Polish Capitalist Realism

    Jakub Majmurek, ”Polish Capitalist Realism ”, View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture 24 (2019), https://www.pismowidok.org/pl/archiwum/2019/24-de-formacje/nadwislanski-realizm-kapitalistyczny-i-nie-tylko

    Review of the book by Michał Piepiórka Rockefellerowie i Marks nad Warszawą. Polskie filmy fabularne wobec transformacji gospodarczej [The Rockefellers and Marx over Warsaw. Polish feature film and the economic transformation], Wydawnictwo Ossolineum, Wrocław 2019

    keywords: Polish Cinema of 1990s; capitalist realism; postcommunist transformation – representation