PRIMORDIAL DREAM 3 (THE NIGHT), NEW YORK CITY

Region/Concept: North America, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Shadow, Abduction, Omen, Portal, Unpromising World
Description: Photographer Arthur Tress recreates scenes from children’s nightmares.

The Dream of Night: a third ancient obsession of human consciousness (birthplace of the marauder, the highwayman, and the vigilante). Myths of the shadow and of the pitch-black; myths of nothingness and darkening, of night as abductor (that it steals our being), night as omen (that it can be read in signs) and oracle (that it reveals the sacred will), or night as portal (that it provides passage into the deranged, the hidden, and the prohibited). Thus a photographer interrogates the recurring themes of children’s nightmares—some born of sleep and others of sleeplessness, some archetypal and others quite unique to behold—and then situates them as accomplices to its black-and-white recreation. As they consent to a second performance of the terror, we are showered with images of the buried alive, of being chased, of growing roots from one’s hands, of submergence in a house’s rooftop, and of not-right men standing in the woods. And yet all is inviting here (one trembles, yet without anxiety), as each instance takes its place within the larger catalogue of an artist-turned-collector. This leads one to ask the proper term for such an album of young visitations-unto-dread: can one even call this an archive, compendium, anthology, or testimony of some kind? Perhaps no invented word yet for what it means to accumulate the many bad sides of malediction and pretending, those which forebode and warn the viewer of an unpromising world…such that the transition from dusk to evening to midnight goes hand-in-hand with the transition from seamlessness to seduction to awful entrapment. The nocturnal therefore speaks only of the inexistent; and the night always wins.

Link: http://www.boredpanda.com/childrens-nightmares-surreal-photography-dream-collector-arthur-tress/

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

Children

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LIVE SOUNDTRACK, CANADIAN ARCTIC

Region/Concept: North America, Body (Dubbing)
Sub-concepts: Exhaustion, Resonance, History
Description: Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq creates a live soundtrack for the 1922 silent film Nanook of the North.

A famous scene in Nanook stages an encounter with a phonograph—a scene deliberately rehearsed to make the protagonist seem naïve when faced with the stored sounds on the disk. Funny, since that was the same technology that Edison had failed to fully integrate with moving pictures. We watch the phonograph instead of hearing it, while the man on screen feigns wonder as he listens. Until another sort of stored sound emerges, this time Tagaq’s live soundtrack, which both dramatizes the physical heroism of this early documentary and reveals the singer’s own effort and extenuation. The film ends up being dubbed in some way–not just by the voice and other instruments, but also by the physicality of the singer on stage.

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV-YQSQ1_FE

Posted by: Craig Epplin

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ELEMENTAL WRATH 3 (EARTH), NORTH AMERICA

Region: North America, Space
Sub-Concepts: Surface, Debris, Erosion, The Underneath
Description: Photographer David Maisel releases book titled Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime

They appear as hallucinatory vistas, these sites of devastated terrain: thus the earth betrays its commitment to solidity, and fractures the once-unified ground (the dust cannot be trusted). From an inhuman floating vantage, we are made to stare upon the surface now opening beyond recognition, and this aerial perception allows us to detect an irreversible thrust toward debris and cracked axes: deforested realms; excavated pits and mines; erosion patterns; seismic tremors; plane-shifting; dirt-in-upheaval; barrenness; aridity; harsh soil; the uninhabitable. There is almost something whimsical in each armageddon-scene, these serrated lines that form no path or sequence (only vagueness). Planetary havoc; badlands. Thought must therefore adjust itself to the geo-existential uneven, and walk along the compromised scaffolding of the underneath (that there is nothing secure below us).

Link 1: https://cuartmuseum.colorado.edu/exhibition/david-maisel-black-maps-american-landscape-and-the-apocalyptic-sublime/
Link 2: http://www.steidl.de/flycms/en/Books/Black-Maps/0615374955.html

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

ElementalWrath

ELEMENTAL WRATH 2 (ICE), ICELAND/ANTARCTICA

Region/Concept: North America/Europe, Space
Sub-Concepts: Melting, Wonder, Brokenness, Frigidity
Description: Environmental photographer James Balog leads the Extreme Ice Survey, a collection of images documenting the effects of climate change on ice formations.

Once more, what is the crossing-point between artistic vision and an age of ecosystemic wreckage? As the vanishing accelerates, the dissipation and vaporization of forms, we come upon another series of epic images (this time of the fall of extreme coldness, polar hostility, and the once-absolute reign of the glaciers). What does it mean, then, to speak of beauty at the end of things? Is there not wonder at the sight of miraculous catastrophe? Where once there was millennial-imperial frozenness, there is now an alternative destiny of melting (both elegant and horrifying). Brokenness; downward eventuality; the crystalline; frost; chill; intersections of the fragile and the jagged; dance of unnatural temperatures; the thawing motionless; the colossus-that-shatters. Thought must therefore adjust to this radical disappearance of frigidity, the subzero-degree of arctic loss; it must train itself to enter an era of dying winters.

Link: http://www.chasingice.com/about-the-film/james-balog-photo-gallery/

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

Ilulissat Isfjord, Greenland 24 August 2007

ELEMENTAL WRATH 1 (FIRE), WEST COAST

Region/Concept: North America, Space
Sub-Concepts: Inferno, Conflagration, Epochal Blaze
Description: Photographic images of the King Fire now spreading throughout the California canyons.

What does it mean to aestheticize ecological disaster? These varied images (of flame, ignition, and fever) cannot help but capture the visual glory of environmental ruin, the enigmatic attraction of the smoke and of the hills burning down. Inferno; conflagration; consumption; engulfing; arson; immolation; world-as-furnace; world-as-incinerator; world-of-ash. There is no speculative end to the psychoanalysis of fire, nor to the phenomenological power of the wildfire (its transmission, disquiet, and searing effects). Thought must therefore adjust itself to the rise of an epochal blaze; it must inhabit the red mosaic of the pyres.

Link: http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2014/09/californias-king-fire/100815/

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

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INTERNET UNCONSCIOUS, NORTH AMERICA

Region/Concept: North America, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Apparition, Nightmare, Cliché
Description: Graphic artist Jim Kazanjian generates apocalyptic “hyper-collages” from images found online.

It doesn’t require a whole lot of imagination to grasp the potential for apocalyptic visions latent in the infinity of images circulating online. That a certain improvisatory combination of photos found on the internet would lend itself to the generation of “hyper-collages” brimming with apocalyptic themes cannot come as a surprise. Perhaps even to say, as the artist seems to suggest, that this method of transforming commonplace source images into entry points to deeper realms of experience by allowing them to consume each other and fuse together rhizomatically, finally smoothing out into a landscape of apparitions, resonates with the creative frenzy which transfigures the fragments of daily existence into dreams, is by now too obvious to allow on the page. And yet, if we can take him at his word that these apparitions have the power to manifest the dark dreams of a collective unconscious embodied by the internet, then we are struck by their melodrama, their storybook grandiosity, as if the internet were a sleeping child filled with the clichés and domestic fictions of the evils of a bygone era. Victorian architecture, endless wastelands, water trickling between the cracks of a cement wall, all the atmospherics of desolation and decay, the raw elements of destruction, ideal specimens for a Freudian nightmare analysis. And in this sense Kazanjian succeeds, triumphantly, in the art of crafting enormous composite clichés from the bits and pieces of repetitive and oblivious imagery that forms the molecular substance of the internet (a craft he likely perfected through his previous work in video game and television CGI production). It is precisely in this endless charade of hackneyed images that the true signs of the apocalypse can be found. And so this vision into the void of infinite proliferation of the same grants us an encounter with the last true form of nightmarish sublimity still possible in Western culture: the sublimity of the cliché.

Link: http://www.domusweb.it/en/photo-essays/2014/05/20/jim_kazanjian.html

Posted by: Will Scarlett

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