As solar eclipse approached, I was thinking about making an exit, an escape out of it, into the city, in hunt of the everydayness, the experience where the mundane collapses and coagulates with spectacular. There were gazers in Austin that did not make it into my objective; they were exchanging eclipse glasses, and one young pregnant woman stood with her swollen belly, bared, offering it to the sun obstructed by the moon, perhaps in search of some sort of connection for her unborn baby with the forces of the universe far exceeding the limits of our imagination and knowledge, with forces non-human, powerful and divine.
I was looking at the familiar space of the city that has been hosting me for the last six years, and these six years were a pinnacle in its existence: during this time Austin rapidly grew and skyrocketed to the first positions of all kinds of ratings, from most-desirable-cities-to-live in America to cities-that-offer-the-best-ratio-of-entertainment-fun-and-prices-for-rent, or so I’ve been told. Austin is continuing growing and will do so in the observable future, but it is no longer the pioneering city in terms of exchanging comfort for money or best prospects for young professionals. Austin is still one of the desirable place to live but its paradise-like attraction is nearing the end as it is gradually taken over by corporations and undergoes yet another after another wave of gentrification.
I am planning to document through photography several streets in Austin that encompass its spirit best, and I open this project with this series of photographs: Austin during the partial eclipse. The eclipse span nearly three hours, from 11:41 AM to 2:39 PM, with a pinnacle at 1:10 PM.
I enjoyed the light on this day, which seemed unusual to me–and finally I was able to free myself from the idea that I observed a partial solar eclipse before. If I observed the eclipse before, it was not during this earthly life (not that I believe in this shit).
The 1st of September is the beginning of the school year in Russia. This is a precious piece of ethnographic evidence, a fascinating photographic fragment of the epoch, which I obtained during my fieldwork in Siberia during the summer of 2016. It has not been shown before.
Here the opening of a new school in 1957 is set in the photograph for eternity.
Craig pointed out today that it goes along well with the 1st September celebration, so I have it, reluctantly, out for your I’m sure utter enjoyment.
I have to return the photo camera that I used during the field work, tomorrow, and so, downloaded the last series of photographs that I took in Siberia during the endless, shiny, everlasting summer of 2016.
Mostly, these pictures are taken in the town of Ust Uda, but some, in the village of Anosovo. I did not process the photographs; they are in their rough initial form.
Siberia, a severe, beautiful land. The place of my power, the place of my weakness. Unobservable vastness, limitless territory, the universe within the universe, the world within worlds. What is to be said about it? Is it possible to say something meaningful in the face of such space, enclosing unnumbered stories: stories of life, struggle, victory, and loss? It breathes with the air of serenity.
The rural spaces there are hardly pastoral. There their very calmness, there is a threat. One in infinitely small amid Siberian landscape, lost in space, and at the same time meets oneself. Everydayness in Siberian rurality costs efforts to which the urban citizen is not accustomed. But it is natural for those who live there. They do not dramatize their living, they do not perceive it as struggle. They are survivors who do not take pride in being survivors.
The first photograph: a girl on the shore of the Kluych River; the second photograph: the village of Anosovo on the shore of the Angara River, the house of Ded Gosha (“Grandpa” Gosha). Summer 2013
Foucault, Discipline and Punish
Important quotes. (It is the task approximating impossibility, to extract important quotes from Foucault, since everything he ever wrote is a breakthrough, if applied properly, and thus is of paramount importance; albeit not deprived of admirable machismo, if I may be permitted to remark.)
“In France, the guillotine, that machine for the production of rapid and discreet death, represented a new ethic of legal death. But the Revolution had immediately endowed it with a great theatrical ritual. For years it provided a spectacle.” (15)
an advocate for humanity
and a foreseer of the future,
proposed to statesmen
a vehicle for punishment,
a sleek guillotine,
concise like a grand piano,
fast like the best automobile,
and painless, like an injection of morphine,
a door and a portal to the better world,
a lift to heaven and hell.
In his private life,
he was modest and shy.
He had an emerald tortoise,
who kept him company during
morning coffee and evening tea,
but this is not
what he is universally acclaimed for,
nor respected the most.
“Regard punishment as a political tactic.” (23)
“But the body is also directly involved in a political field; power relations have an immediate hold upon it; they invest it, mark it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs.” (25) [and sighs?]
“We should admit rather that power produces knowledge [Marx — V.O.] (and not simply by encouraging it because it serves power or by applying it because it is useful); that power and knowledge directly imply one another; that there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations.” (27)
“The body interrogated in torture constituted the point of application of the punishment and the locus of extortion of the truth.” (42)
“Besides its immediate victim, the crime attacks the sovereign: it attacks him personally, since the law represents the will of the sovereign; it attacks him physically, since the force of the law is the force of the prince.” (47)
“The liturgy of torture and execution” (49)
“In the ceremonies of the public execution, the main character was the people, whose real and immediate presence was required for the performance.” (57) [The society of spectacle and more]
“Under the protection of imminent death, the criminal could say everything and the crowd cheered.” (60)
“…attempts were made to seize the condemned man, either to save him or to kill him more surely” (63)
“ambiguous rituals” (65)
“The offences had to be properly defined and more surely punished; out of this mass of irregularities, sometimes tolerated and sometimes punished with a severity out of all proportion to the offence, one had to determine what was an intolerable offence, and the offenders had to be apprehended and punished.” (86)
“The right to punish had been shifted from the vengeance of the sovereign to the defence of society.” (90, “Society Should Be Defended”)
“The last crime cannot but remain unpunished.” (93)
“the double taxonomy of punishments and crimes” (100)
“The art of punishing, then, must rest on a whole technology of representation.” (104)
“Mere day-dreaming? Perhaps.” (105)
“This, then, is how one must imagine the punitive city. At the crossroads, in the gardens, at the side of roads being repaired of bridges built, in workshops open to all, in the depths of mines that may be visited, will be hundreds of tiny theaters of punishment.” (113)
“The apparatus of corrective penalty acts in a quite different way. The point of application of the penalty is not the representation, but the body, time, everyday gestures and activities; the soul, too, but in so far as it is the seat of habits. The body and the soul, as principles of behavior, form the element that is now proposed for punitive intervention.” (128)
“How did the coercive, corporal, solitary, secret model of the power to punish replace the representative, scenic, signifying, public, collective model?” (131)
“Let us to take the ideal figure of the soldier as it was still seen in the early seventeenth century. To begin with, the soldier was someone who could be recognized from afar; he bore certain signs: the natural signs of his strength and courage, the marks, too, of his pride; his body was the blazon of his strength and valour; and although it is true that he had to learn the profession of arms little by little — generally in actual fighting — movements like marching and attitudes like the bearing of the head belonged for the most part to a bodily rhetoric of honour…” (135)
“Discipline sometimes requires enclosure, the specification of a place heterogeneous to all others and closed in upon itself.” (141)
“The organization of a serial space was one of the great technical mutations of elementary education.” (147)
“The mutual improvement school was to exploit still further this control of behaviour by the system of signals to which one had to react immediately.” (167)
“These ”observatories” had an almost ideal model: the military camp — the short-lived, artificial city, built and reshaped almost at will; the seat of a power that must be all the stronger, but also all the more discreet, all the more effective and on the alert in that it is exercised over armed men.” (171)
“The order that the disciplinary punishment must enforce is of a mixed nature: it is an ‘artifical’ order, explicitly laid down by a law, a programme, a set of regulations.” (179)
“One of the essential conditions for the epistemological ‘thaw’ of medicine at the end of the eighteenth century was the organization of the hospital as an ‘examining’ apparatus. The ritual of the visit was its most obvious form.” (185)
“As opposed to the ruined prisons, littered with mechanisms of torture, to be seen in Piranese’s engravings, the Panopticon presents a cruel, ingenious cage.” (205)
“We are much less Greeks than we believe.” (217)
“This production of delinquency and its investment by the penal apparatus must be taken for what they are: not result acquired once and for all, but tactics that shift according to how closely they reach their target.” (285)
“I am not saying that the human sciences emerged from the prison.” (305) [Oh but you do.]
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish. Translated by Alan Sheridan. Vintage Books New York 1995.
As an occasional spectator of this image observed, with a striking originality of thought, stones are the first photographers: they capture the moments of lava movement.
The photograph depicts a cliff with the aperture above and is taken on January 3, 2016, in the Longhorn Cavern, by me.
To elaborate, the stones simultaneously are the first photographs: they suspend the clandestine processes boiling in the heats of liquid basalt. The nature of photography is thus preserved: the ultimate temporality captured for eternity.
What is remarkable about this picture? Nothing in particular. The post-processing with similar results abound on the web. It has the characteristic gradations of tone and color and a frame which is supposed to convey a nostalgic touch to the image. Perhaps it achieves the intended results, perhaps not, one could have said, were it not for the fact that there were no “intended results” in the sense of “fruits of premeditated human activity yielding to the electronically altered image.” What we see is this post-procession, created entirely by Assistant, the application.
The image was to remain dormant in my endless photo roll, but as a result of the unknown to me algorithm it was selected for manipulations, alterations, and transmogrification, and subsequently fused into the image we now know it to be.
Out of several attempts of altering photos the application makes, some ask to be discarded without long musings. The algorithm turns the images into the black-and-white shadows of themselves where no human being, regardless of how little of artistic sense s/he has (not), would never do. Out of those which might be kept, many images are very similar-looking, as if watched through the yellow-green-magenta blurry filters. The Assistant adds a pretty heavy vignette, as well as the aforementioned artistic frame alluding to the times of analogous photography, and adjusts brightness, contrast, and saturation.
Sergyei Akishin speculated: “I think the only justification for photo processing obsession is a great desire for something unedited and unprocessed to suddenly appear as facially, though maybe unbearably, evident” (Akishin, 2016) thereby suggesting that we like processed photos because they make, by virtue of their existence, other photographs, and perhaps even un-pictured and undocumented reality, appear to be more true by contrast.
Perhaps this is a part of the attraction of post-processing, but a more important sentiment is the desire of temporarily dislodge oneself into a transformed fairyland, the phantasmagoric dreamworld, the stranger the better.
2016. A comment on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/orlova.v/posts/1049632551765265?pnref=story [retrieved 1/14/2016]
In Memoriam to Steamboat Karl Marx, 1956, reads the caption of the image; the village of Anosovo archive