Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Wölfflinian Scroll

"Images in a World": Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth
The Lady from Shanghai (dir. Orson Welles, 1947)

Be sure and take some time to go over to Tessellations, a site created by artists Leah Beeferman and Wm. Matthew Harvey. You've probably already noticed that I hesitate to use the word "blog", and this is only because though Tessellations maintains a blog-like architecture, it's anything but. For starters, the careful curation of images here goes very far from resembling anything like a "scroll of death." Beeferman and Harvey describe Tessellations as a "a two-person dialogue of visual and contextual associations found between images." Each posts an image in response to each other— a visual pas de deux that, in their words, creates an "open-ended, often oblique narrative" that makes sense of "the expansive and dissonant patterns of the internet."

moves beyond the image fetish of sites such as ffffound, and like Folkert Gorter's and Atley Kasky's but does it float, it aims at a highly conceptualized kind of image curation. Comparisons to Heinrich Wölfflin's method of side-by-side image analysis will no doubt be in order. Tessellations and but does it float seem to be very upfront about their curatorial methods. The latter, with its aggregation of sumptuous images and occasional text, necessarily relies on the blog post header in order to make sense for the audience. It is in this sense that this popular site operates as a kind of subtler critique of blog posting. Any connection between the tradition markers of a weblog—header and body text—are rendered almost useless through the skillful manipulation of images.

moves one step further and removes the subject heading. Here, then, the user is required to navigate Beeferman's and Harvey's call-and-response method without any kind of textual reference. As in but does it float, clicking on an image takes the user to the source. But linking in Tessellation's normative universe adds another layer of complexity—here, image curation becomes a way to theorize connections between the jpeg and its internet ecology. This process is further complicated should the user choose to click on the "tessellate" button, a randomizing engine of sorts that helps instill the kind of productive dissonance that gives the website its name. Visibility in Tesselations thus becomes much more than a Foucauldian trap ... it is a feedback loop mechanism that helps us problematize two ubiquitous media: the image and its attendant internet context. It is an affirmation of Gilles Deleuze's claim from Cinema 2 that cinema does more than just "present images": it "surrounds them with a world."

No comments: