Ausdehnung

Die Photographie ihrerseits dient seit der Jahrhundermitte den Kreis der Warenwirtschaft gewaltig aus, indem sie Figuren, Landschaften, Ereignisse, die entweder überhaupt nicht oder nur als Bild für einen Kunden verwertbar waren, in unbeschreiblicher Menge auf dem Mark ausbot. Um den Umsatz zu steigern erneuerte sie ihre Objekte durch modische Veränderungen der Aufnahmetechnik, die die spätere Geschichte der Photographie bestimmen.

— Walter Benjamin, Passagenwerk, Daguerre oder die Panoramen, pp 1127

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Maschinenhilfe

»Flüchtige Spiegelbilder festhalten zu wollen, heißt es da, dies ist nicht bloß ein Ding der Unmöglichkeit, wie es sich nach gründlicher deutscher Untersuchung herausgestellt hat, sondern schon der Wunsch, dies zu wollen, ist eine Gotteslästerung. Der Mensch ist nach dem Ebenbilde Gottes geschaffen und Gottes Bild kann durch keine menschliche Maschine festgehalten werden. Höchstens der göttliche Künstler darf, begeistert von himmlischer Eingebung, es wagen, die gottmenschlichen Züge, im Augenblick höchster Weihe, auf den höheren Befehl seines Genius, ohne jede Maschinenhilfe wiederzugeben.«

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Funktion

Wie ich mich auch anstelle, ich verschaffe mir ein Gefühl der Zersplitterung – demütigender Unordnung. Ich schreibe ein Buch, ich muss meine Ideen ordnen. Ich verkleinere mich in meinen Augen, wenn ich mich ins Detail meiner Aufgabe vertiefe. Diskursiv, wie es ist, ist das Denken stets die Beachtung eines Punktes auf Kosten der anderen, es reisst den Menschen aus sich selbst heraus, reduziert ihn auf das Glied in der Kette, die er ist.

Verhängnis für den “ganzen Menschen” – den Menschen des Pfahls -, nicht vollauf über seine intellektuellen Ressourcen zu verfügen. Verhängnis, schlecht, unordentlich arbeiten zu müssen.

Er lebt unter einer Bedrohung: die Funktion, die er anwendet, tendiert dazu, seine Stelle einzunehmen! Er kann sie nicht übermäßig anwenden. Er entgeht der Gefahr nur, indem er sie vergisst. Schlecht, unordentlich zu arbeiten, ist oft das einzige Mittel, nicht zur Funktion zu werden.

Aber die umgekehrte Gefahr ist gleichfalls groß(die Vagheit, die Ungenauigkeit, der Mystizismus).

Ebbe und Flut ins Auge fassen.

Ein Defizit zulassen.

— Georges Bataille, Nietzsche und der Wille zur Chance

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January

Balls,
Yangoon/Myannmar, November 2015

January

January is this shitty month of dying.
It’s like people hold on through December, see one last christmas
and then just loose it and call it a life.
Jan Wigger died, whose articles in Rolling Stone I remembered
and I liked the music he liked and he was
younger than me, and this is what happens when
you reach a certain age, people just die who are
younger than you, which is kind of sad,
but then again: Is dying not always a sad thing, no matter if you’re
young and die without having done so much with your life
or being old and die and asking yourself if you have done so much with your life,
so is it not always this sad thing?

And Marlena Shaw died, and I pulled out on of her records and listened to her voice
for the very first time in a long time and that was not a sad thing.
And Mary Weiss of the the Shangri Las died, who became famous when she was
fifteen
and afterwards no one heard anything about her life and for a very brief moment I
wanted to read what she had done with the rest of her lie but then I
forgot.

And Frank Farian died and I listened to some Boney M. and I
remembered
that weird guy who was just dancing and not singing and I
had seen Boney M. on television, when there was still Television and everybody
watched just about pretty much the same stuff and next day we would talk about
that

And now we talk about the series we streamed but no one watched it,
like I
watched the third season of True Detective yesterday, which was also about
lives
passing
and you only have this one story, that makes up your life, not like on TV where
you
see thousands of stories and there is always another one you can try out and see,
if this a story that could make up your life.

And
Frank Z. from Abwärts died. Which I
never listened to when they became sort-of-famous in the 8oies, because I
did not listen to Punk, I was not angry when I was young, I
was just sad most of the time, so I
Listened to Joy Division and Bauhaus and I
missed out on all this Punk-stuff and being young and angry, it is only today
that I started listening to Punk, as I
am old and angry now, so now I get where the music is coming from.

And Melanie died. you know, guitar picking and that soft voice in Woodstock, for
some things
I am too young to have actually been around, when they where a thing,
but for a lot of things I have been around, when they were a thing.
And our neighbour is dying for some time now. He
is lying in his flat underneath ours and waiting for death to come.
He is very religious, so the few things he still does is going to church once or twice a week
and when he comes back I hear his probing, slow, heavy footsteps on the stairs,
it is like death itself is coming up the stairs
and then he slams the door shut behind him and then for days on
you hear hardly anything coming from downstairs.

And my mother died in January a couple years ago.
It was her birthday. She somehow held on to this day,
but I don’t know if she was in a mood of celebrating,
she drank too much and took some sleeping pills and then
her heart
just gave in
and that was that, came to the world on a day
and left it on the same day, one of these miserable wet dark cold days of

January.

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Debris of All Possibilities

When the fabric of memory is fragile, what is it that holds it together? We have never been there, tells us our memory. We have been there, tells us the photograph. We were never that happy again after this day. What about these two people, slowly vanishing from the picture, faster vanishing from your life, where they stepped in only for a minor stint. The importance of a picture lies not what we see in the picture but in the way we connect what we see to what we assume to be outside the picture. The vanishing point of a story. Lives dropping behind the paper of a photo, disappearing between the pixels on the screen. They are not together anymore, they just stopped calling after a while. It was a fling in a summer that did not seem to end. Later, with other people, they might look back on this day and regret that they drifted apart. They married and today have two kids. He’s cheating on her. He hates his life. The way their lives unrolls out of this image into endless directions: This Faustian-Pause-Key, the “Verweile doch…” that an image represents, that lure of the lives that go through the image. The time collapsing and enclosing within its debris all possibilities…

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The Bad Artist

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

— Samuel Beckett

Beckett’s quote is often read like a Sports-film and somehow made it onto motivational posters. Failing builds character, fail until you eventually succeed, the endless bitterness of lost games and obstacles to overcome, only making the win in the last image even sweeter.

Consider failure from the point of view of the bad photographer: paths leading nowhere, failures ending you in dead ends, the plane of the picture becomes muddy and opaque and teaches you nothing, the photo losing its ability to offer anything about the world, and if you show your pictures to other people, they just shrug and walk away; the numerous times you considered dropping the camera for good.

And of course, we’re talking about a highly subjective, personal experience of “bad.” Takuma Nakahira considered himself and photography-as-such a failure, burned (almost) all his negatives, and turned to drinking instead. But I still remember this video from a couple years later: He rode his bike by the sea with the camera in his hand, smiling, somehow having come back from this, but broken, twisted, weirdly happy like the brilliant fool that he was…

In this light, “failure” takes on a darker shade, as failure is not a means-to-an-end, but it is all we have and all we can hope for; Godot never arrives, your photos will never be “good”, but you still have to traverse the square and find ways to fail better.

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To Build a House

There was this sense of accomplishment, the idea of things going somewhere. That seems to have evaporated. There is darkness abound, the path ahead seems obscured, what is behind us is slowly looping back on us, molasses, hard to escape. We’re basically just remxing. There will be a house built. The future shrinking down to some dense, uniform mass. When trying to remember, I have difficult to connect my self now with the things that happened to me. That weird dis-associations that seems to split me into multiple paths taken or committed.

 

I personally don’t know where we are heading. The only thing that’s clear to me is that I intend to destroy, destroy everything that exists in painting. I have an utter contempt for painting. The only thing that interests me is the spirit itself, and I only use the customary artist’s tools – brushes, canvas, paints – in order to strike more precisely. The only reason I abide by the rules of pictorial art is because they’re essential for expressing what I feel, just as grammar is essential for expressing yourself.

— Jean Miro, 1992

After the studies had ended I feel kind of broken: It does not feel like something actually has happened, only time has passed.

Shadows, the ‘sign of true bodies’ as Hans Belting writes, of course saturate the photographic space: as much as with light, photographs are made with shadows, to such an extent, that William Fox Talbot, one of the pionneers of photography, hesitated between this name and skiagraphy, ‘shadow painting’.

— Jonathan Litell, Three Studies on Francis Bacon

A house must be built: People must gather, things have to come together, a sense of direction infused into many minds. The cruelty of the next morning. There was dancing.

 

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