Mapping progress

January 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

As part of our engagement with Collectives Encounter 2011, we’ve agreed to blog about process. Over the holiday period, Wideyed and ASA were too busy with a funding application to ACE to even think about blogging, but the application was submitted this week so, now that we’ve (more or less…) recovered from that, we’re getting back to what we were doing before, which was research. And while we can’t talk about our exhibition project in too much detail yet, we can at least start blogging by sharing some of our research progress.

Photographers contributing images to our exhibition, Mapping the Flâneur, will be asked to respond to each others’ work and to predetermined themes drawn from the writings of Walter Benjamin. So we’re currently reading Benjamin’s The Arcades Project in search of potential themes, key words, and inspiring quotes (or ‘convolutes’) we can use for the exhibition. The book is a real door-stopper, so we haven’t finished going through it yet, but just before Xmas we found several pieces we’ll transcribe a few of here as examples of the kind of guidance we’re finding in Benjamin’s text.

Streets are the dwelling place of the collective. The collective is an eternally unquiet, eternally agitated being that – in the space between the building fronts – experiences, learns, understands, and invents as much as individuals do within the privacy of their own four walls. For this collective, glossy enameled shop signs are a wall decoration as good as, if not better than, an oil painting in the drawing room of a bourgeois; walls with their “Post No Bills” are its writing desk, newspaper stands its libraries, mailboxes its bronze busts, benches its bedroom furniture, and the café terrace is the balcony from which it looks down on its household. [M3a,4]

The flâneur is the observer of the marketplace. His knowledge is akin to the occult science of industrial fluctuations. He is a spy for the capitalists in the realm of consumers. [M5,6]

The city is the realisation of that ancient dream of humanity, the labyrinth. It is this reality to which the flâneur, without knowing it, devotes himself. [M6a,4]

To leave without being forced in any way, and to follow your inspiration as if the mere fact of turning right or turning left already constituted an essentially poetic act.

Edmond Jaloux, “Le Dernier Flâneur,” Le Temps (May 22, 1936). [M9a,4]

As well as panning for gold in The Arcades Project, at some point we will also need to write some form of brief, manual, or guidebook for participating photographers to follow. As part of our research for this we’ve been looking at manifestos, to see if this is a structure we could adapt for our own use. From we found links online to a few interesting ones, like F.T. Marinetti’s famous 1909 Futurist Manifesto, Oswaldo de Andrade’s satirical 1928 Cannibal Manifesto, and the Fractalist Movement’s not-so-snappily-titled Manifesto of the Art and Complexity Group from the mid-1990s (scroll to the bottom of the page for the French version).

Something else we’d have like to see but haven’t been able to track down online, is Lettrist Isidore Isou‘s text on photography: Amos, ou Introduction à la métagraphologie (Amos, or Introduction to Metagraphology). While searching around for it, we found instead a clip from Venom and Eternity, the avant garde Lettrist film that, for fun, we’re going to close this post with. The main character does talk about photography towards the end, but it’s more for the footage of an actual Parisian flâneur in action that we’re including it here.

[This post has also been blogged at the Collectives Encounter website.]


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