All the names of (photographic) history

I am currently working on a section of the ‘dissertation that never ends’ that focuses on the artistic practices the employ Google Street View in their practice. While I understand that I am seemingly ‘hardwired’ to see Deleuzian sentences that give support to the (potential) importance of the artist and their ability to provide us, the public, with a ‘view of chaos’ ; I am particularly astonished when the artists, more or less, state this on their own.

Within the panoramas, I can locate images of gritty urban life reminiscent of hard-boiled American street photography. Or, if I prefer, I can find images of rural Americana that recall photography commissioned by the Farm Securities Administration during the depression.I can seek out postcard-perfect shots that capture what Cartier-Bresson titled “the decisive moment,” as if I were a photojournalist responding instantaneously to an emerging event.At other times, I have been mesmerized by the sense of nostalgia, yearning, and loss in these images—qualities that evoke old family snapshots. I can also choose to be a landscape photographer and meditate on the multitude of visual possibilities. Or I can search for passing scenes that remind me of one of Jeff Wall’s staged tableaux. (Rafman 2009)

Jon Rafman, photographer and ‘author’ of Nine Eyes, a body of work that culls material from Street View seems to evoke the schizophrenic burst of ‘all the names of history’. His ability to cull from Street View a range of impulses appears to free him from the subjectivizing practice of ‘picture-making’ in which the artist-as-author overcodes the scene according to their habitual way of seeing and interpreting, freeing him to draw from the virtual photographic field of aesthetic utterances.

I then simply find myself saying, ‘thanks for that(!).’

Rafman, J. 2009. IMG MGMT, in ArtFCity,

this is where i might start gushing

cosmic thing

I think at one point, I was going to post this photo in relation to Deleuze’s articulation of time, via Leibniz (to some degree); the way in which he discusses the syntheses of time in the Cinema books; as well as the excellent cartoon of the converging narratives at the site of the ‘event’ in the Three Novellas in D & G’s ATP. At the time I was reading Difference and Repetition and was equally captured by his articulation of the third synthesis as potential, the virtual contained within the current state, regardless of its visible characteristic.

But now, having finally (FINALLY) finished D & R, I feel uncertain how Deleuze truly feels about Leibniz’s conception of the event/time. It seemed that he was not quite, but almost, dismissing the account of convergence upon one event, as it seemed to locate all focus upon the one element, which has the effect of effacing the pure difference that Deleuze is trying to hold onto. I think ultimately, for myself, focusing on the event directs the lines to one location still seems helpful, but within that recognition of the singular site/event, it is important to remember that it is but one point among countless others; and within the event, each person has their own horizon/positionality (ideological, physical, emotional) that they bring to bear on that understanding. I guess it still is reduced to representation, but it still seems like a fruitful way of conceptualizing an exterior event in relation to ourselves and our place in the world.

Of course, ultimately, I do not recall, what, precisely, made me thinking of Damian Ortega’s Cosmic Thing in relation to Deleuze. What I do know, I was entirely captivated by something D had written, which made me think of this piece. I could likely retrace the connections, but I think I’ll just throw this unfinished thought out into the world and keep moving.