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  • Art history as image-and-text (5 comments)

    • Comment by Alexandra Korey on February 9th, 2013

      This is a very interesting update of Bejnamin’s theory and I think you are spot on. The role of the photograph in relation to the work of art has changed rather a lot over the past 80 years or so. In the ‘real world’ (by which i mean outside of academic discourse), photographs provide promotional factor for art, luring people into museums; people are also drive to photograph themselves WITH art, which connects to a kind of self-generated authenticity.

      On the matter of reproductions and authenticity, one sees the same concept in early prints. I have actually written about this in relation to the role of Durer prints of the Sudarium.

      Comment by Alexandra Korey on February 9th, 2013

      ooooh, yes… the Uffizi is an extended version of Vasari’s Lives of the Artists. Or at least, that’s what I always tell visitors. Who look at me funny, but it is true.

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013

      It might be nice to make links to Andre Malraux’s notion of photographic reproduction in relation to the Museum Without Walls?

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013

      Of course, Malraux disliked the art-book (see, The Voices of Silence [pp 21, 27, 46] for its discussion of the destruction of individuality and the creation of and/or reinforcement of “style”)

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013

      I would delete “wonderful”

  • Locating digital archival form and/as content (5 comments)

    • Comment by JUssi Parikka on February 7th, 2013

      Key question: archival form and content: are they in correlation (i.e. separate and then trying to find a meaningful relation to them) or were they separated at all?

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013


      This feels a bit forced after the discussion. Is there no way to tie it in earlier in the discussion?

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013

      Personally this paragraph moves too fast and assumes too much. I would like to see this unpacked a bit more, and the assumption explored, e.g. what is hacking in this context?


      Participative spelling error.

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013

      I think that again there are a lot of assumptions here. At its most basic, of course, not “anyone” can get online, nor discuss art in these contexts.

      Secondly, this text sounds far too celebratory of digital media, and doesn’t take account the new forms of power evident in its various manifestations. This is an important political economic moment, e.g. Lady Gaga has money and power provided by a record label. The same must surely happen when a Gallery stands behind and artist etc.

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013


      I’m not sure that you can’t do that, the side swipe at the REF is unnecessary, by the way. Because it is digital media there is no reason why multiple versions of this paper couldn’t exist, some aggressively built around merely the hashtag, others more long-form text.

      There is an interesting contradiction in that you plan to then submit a canonical (print?) version of the text… it would be interesting to see more reflection on this..

  • Archival form and/as content (3 comments)

    • Comment by Jussi Parikka on February 6th, 2013

      The basic drive of this section about Kittler is fine, but I just noticed that perhaps the emphasis on Kittler looking for metaphors is not correct. I think he is not keen on such and that gives a bit wrong indication of his theoretical grounding. Similarly implying that he was more of a Derrida inspired critic of Foucault is not perhaps not the best way to describe it, but the other way round…he was more of a Foucauldian. Foucault is the necessary historical grounding for Derrida’s lack of historical specificity. But the ending point regarding that media form the background for experience/understanding is correct — or that the critique of culture has to be critique of media by definition; the foucauldian a priori is  a technological one.

      Would be interesting to think whether your approach actually benefits from the cultural techniques approach of Bernhard Siegert…! And the way in which epistemology/knowledge/discplines are always contextualised in relation to techniques and technologies. Of course, this applies to so much of Kittler too, and hence the connection to your topic.


      Comment by JUssi Parikka on February 7th, 2013

      Might benefit from specifying a bit of what in terms of methodologies Kittler and other similarly tuned media analysts have done — i.e. the extension of the idea of conditions of knowledge to technical conditions too, and opening up humanities disciplines to such scrutiny. Like technical conditions of fields of knowledge, disciplines. SO besides the symbolic, it is also the wider set of concerns re. knowledge practices, perhaps?

      Comment by Belinda Barnet on July 30th, 2013




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      I think this section underpins your entire thesis, and it needs to be fleshed out. There’s an opportunity to do something exciting here using your hashtag project. You are gesturing towards some interesting theoretical questions with both the essay and the project – particularly how the material dimension of media (books or SMS for example) shape content in advance of its production. Why not really go into the theory behind that? Different technologies and pieces of software have different material specificities, they shape and create meaning in different ways. With respect to Twitter, your hashtag project, when your subjects place those tags, photograph them and then send them to twitter, does that event exist outside of the technology used for its recording and inscription? That’s the question it makes me ask.
      The event is ‘performed’ for Twitter, it is performed for the device used to capture it, then it is encoded and finally reconstructed online. Then in sorting those pieces under a hashtag and viewing them, your audience is sort of acknowledging the event has taken place. That’s key too. It’s already shaped in advance, by the technology used to capture and distribute it, but then the event is witnessed by your audience. The event itself is always already shaped by the device used to capture it and the medium used to distribute it. That’s where Derrida might be useful for you.
      All technologies are mnemotechnics, they all shape content in advance, but the specific ways they do that differ between mediums. I’m clearly a bit of a Derrida fan and ‘Echographies of Television’ might be useful for you here. You’ve obviously read Archive Fever, but why stop with the magic writing pad story? That’s just at the surface. I’d like to see you explore how your project demonstrates that the content is shaped by the medium in advance, in its very workings, in its performance. Jussi has already pointed you towards another interesting theorist in this area – Stiegler.
      Stiegler radicalises Derrida’s concept of the trace (which is really what we’re talking about here). To the point that he says our technologies, the technologies we use to memorialise pieces of ourselves, actually make us human. So all technologies are memory aids, from bits of pottery to books to SMS. But for Steigler that’s how we invent ourselves as humans. Technologies don’t just invent the content, they invent the human. Anyway, there is so much to explore here. Why not push it a bit? You may as well have fun. I’d start, for you, with echographies of television. That works on from archive fever. Then, when you have had a strong coffee start on Technics and Time.

  • Fetishizing the book (3 comments)

    • Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013


      We also see sociological moments where purported links are made between the number of books in a household and the likelihood of a child going to university, etc. Such that policies exist to literally give children books or send them via the post to place books in the household…. and irony that the concern is the literal physicality of the book, and not necessarily that they are read by anyone…

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013

      Do we really have a “cultural operating system” or is this another example of a media metaphor?

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013


      There is a problem here that this is a quite ahistorical notion of the digital.

  • Conclusion (2 comments)

    • Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013

      I’m not sure that media “co-author” anything. But then this depends on the notion of the author you are planning to use, and you don’t specifically refer to a problematisation of the concept of the author. Do you mean “co-construct”?

      I suppose this is a question of agency, but again its not really something you discuss although it might be interesting to open up (I understand also that it might be better in another paper too due to word limits… )

      Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013

      This final argument again really reminds me of Malraux’s notion of the Museum Without Walls (see Transmediale, BWPWAP).

  • About This Project (1 comment)

    • Comment by James Elkins on March 18th, 2013


      Thanks for sending the hashtag sculpture. It was an interesting surprise. I’ve read the book, and visited all the websites you mention, including the Flickr group. It’s a nice project. This site doesn’t provide a way to comment on the text as a whole (which is strange, given that ordinary peer reviewing is always done separately from the manuscript, and the concept of public peer reviewing doesn’t involve the necessity of intertextuality), so I am appending my brief thoughts to this entire introductory page.

      It’s great that you’re embodying some of the claims that are so often made only on paper, in books. And of course by integrating the three-dimensional piece and the growing collections of photographs, you’re also engaging the large literature on the practice-based PhD — especially the very vexed question of research as art.

      I don’t so much have reservations about the project as I have an interest in registering things that may be getting away — things that are potentially of central importance to any such questioning of art history. I say this especially because the framing expression, “art history,” is not itself being questioned here. (After all, I have a little sculpture that says “arthistory” on my desk as I write this.) For me, three of those things are especially important:

      1. The place of speech in art history. I know you did a CAA intervention that opens this question, but there is much more to be done. Pablo Helguera and I did a MoMA conference a couple of years ago called “Art Speech,” which was about the ways art historians speak at conferences, and our need to hear one another speak. I won’t say it was successful, but it was a start: what’s needed, I think, are longer and more detailed inquiries about speaking in art history.

      2. Then there’s the question of why, when art historians speak, we almost always need texts. There’s something about the need for a carefully crafted text that’s hard to give up. (I have ideas about why we need texts, but that’s for some other conversation.) In this respect your project remains traditional, in that your texts are well written and have fairly extensive footnotes. How about an extemporaneous video next time, complete with hesitations, errors, and overstatements? (Ever see Zizek’s “Pervert’s Guide to Cinema”? It’s full of awkward out-takes.)

      3. And last, I agree that
      >Art history as a discipline has traditionally been somewhat inattentive to the materiality of its own practice and products.
      but I wonder how much the sculpture, and its reappearances in people’s photographs, constitues a critique of that materiality. I think it would be helpful to also attempt a line by line, page by page analysis of the particular materiality of some book or venue or department. I would be very interested to read such a critique of, say, Gombrich’s book. Pablo and I tried that kind of close analysis of art historical speech at the MoMA event; one of our speakers gave a PowerPoint reduction of a talk by Tim Clark. It was funny, suggestive, and — above all — very slow, careful, and exhaustive. For me, that’s the way to pursue the institution.

      Thanks so much for the surprise, and the puzzle!



  • What bookish discourse limits (1 comment)

    • Comment by David Berry on February 20th, 2013

      You might find the curatorial challenges of digital media forms discussion in this text interesting in relation to the questions you are discussing here:


      Berry, D. M., Dartel, M. v., Dieter, M., Kasprzak, M. Muller, N., O’Reilly, R., and Vicente, J. L (2012) New Aesthetic, New Anxieties, Amsterdam: V2 Press.


Source: http://www.gylphi.co.uk/artsfuturebook/?page_id=6