A causeway around picture: Muybridge’s solar darkness

Coley, Rob and Lockwood, Dean (2015) A causeway around picture: Muybridge’s solar darkness. In: Rethinking Early Photography, 16th-17th June, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


We commend an idea of photography as dark medium, negative mediation, and, in this sense, never early, never late: ‘To talk about the medium’s past or future…makes no sense, since these categories belong to the linear timescale of Enlightenment. But we’re talking endarkenment here; unshaped plasma in which pixels drift, collide and separate in pre-historic or pre-figurative frenzy; noxious fluid mulch where pasts, futures and presents, all composted, lurk as potentiality and immanence – that is, as fiction’ (Tom McCarthy). A second photography, a paraphotography, lies alongside or interstitially within the history of photography. The Society (represented on this occasion by Drs. Coley and Lockwood), proposes a fabulatory exploration inspired by Brian Catling’s The Vorrh, in which early photographer Eadweard Muybridge lives a secret life in pursuit of the ‘real burn of art’. In Catling’s fiction, Muybridge’s near-fatal stagecoach accident activates in him a vital mythopoetic power by which he reinvents himself as the Titan, Helios, commanding the force of the Sun. It is a matter of finding a ‘causeway around picture’, of magnifying an ‘atmosphere’, cutting light to coalesce movement. The optico-affective capacities here imagined speak to a specification of seeing as exceeding the actual. Muybridge spins light as a form of affective hack, an optical exploit accessing the unliveable void of the Seer, the Idiot perched on the precipice of infinity just as Muybridge gazes down into Yosemite Valley from the perilous brink. Paraphotography is this spinning-voiding. The Titan’s studies in motion are barbarous evocations of forces which side-step the rational and the conscious. The numbered gridding of humans and animals, frozen in time and space, gives way to a more subtle web, spun to detain and harness forces more profound, more mutative and acrobatical than the arithmetic powers of mere calculation and accumulation. Muybridge’s legacy is an exploded view of the world. It is an illustration of components, a fabulation of celebrity, an authentic grimoire designed to conjure time and space, to tip them off their rails and catch and ride them as they propel all things into unknown infinity. This is a Book of Vectors that gives the world a different origin and a different cause. Behind the sensory affordances made possible by industrialized nature, industrialized time and space, is another realm, born of another nature, time and space in triplicate. Here are inconspicuous powers brewing in the spaces between the things ordinarily seen.

Keywords:Photography, mediation, Muybridge
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:17679
Deposited On:18 Jun 2015 08:50

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