and the Image
2001 MMLA Convention
Cohen, University of Virginia
"Constellatory Modernism: Imperial Landmarks and Making the World One"
This paper looks at how global images of empire produced a tension in late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century imperialist administration. Emigration enthusiasts made the case for moving metropolitan populations to the settler colonies in terms of gender, race, and class. But the propaganda of empire migration reflects an uneasy relationship with new global totalizing images of empire, illustrating a tension between empire migration's need for viable places and imperialism's conquest of planetary space. Colonial emigration's structure of feeling-the subjective, emotive power of these colonial places imagined as open spaces before and beyond history, yet nevertheless intimately connected with and capable of reproducing British civilization-was under assault from the very patterns of imperial mastery of vast spaces. The modernist artist, I suggest, confronted a similar challenge in understanding metropolitan space.
Historically situated after nearly a century of British settlement and exploration in South Africa, Olive Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm (1883) offers a parodic response to metropolitan conceptions of colonial conditions. Considered as a colonial parody, the novel uses, I argue, a form that is peculiarly geopolitical in nature: its narrative strategy is predicated on an awareness of geographical difference between the imperial metropolis and the colonial periphery and also on an ambivalent use of the social, moral, and political connections between the two. The novel might be situated in parodic repartee with a literature of the colonial exotic and with the British domestic while not positively affiliating itself with either. By its setting in a "vast" and "monotonous" desert that can neither be converted nor mastered by European colonization, African Farm responds to exotic fictions of colonial life and to British public and philanthropic literature that represented the colonies as virtual Eden's where England's disenfranchised peoples might find moral and social redemption. The narrative contends that "civilization" as envisioned by the imperialist cannot penetrate this represented desert in any substantive way. In light of its parodic self-positioning, this novel offers a precedent for colonial fictions that seek to intervene on metropolitan discourses of the global.
Writing in Nineteenth Century at the end of the nineteenth century, Conservative MP J. Henniker Heaton declared that under the newly-implemented Imperial Penny Postage scheme "The postage-stamp would become the symbol of Imperial unity, nay, more, the symbol of universal Anglo-Saxon brotherhood." In this paper I show how together the establishment of "All Red Routes" of communication throughout the British Empire and the reinvention of America as a colonial "daughter" and Britain's closest blood-relative was essential to the establishment of both "Anglo-Saxon brotherhood" and "Imperial unity."
The "All Red Routes" were a network of communication channels that spanned the Empire, crossing and connecting countries and populations that were conjoined, as Goldwin Smith and others expressed it, "by ties of blood and interest." These "ties of blood" were those which bound white, Anglo-Saxon settlers across the world to each other and to those who still dwelled in the mother country. In 1847 a philanthropist from Connecticut named Elihu Burritt had founded a Christian, pacifist organization called the League of Universal Brotherhood, which promoted the aim of "Making Home Everywhere and all Nations Neighbours" and campaigned for a penny postage scheme that extended beyond the shores of England. The league was an Anglo-American alliance, formed in response to a scuffle between America and Britain over the ownership of Oregon, which nearly resulted in war. Reading counter to the critical view that the end of First Stage British Imperialism and the loss of America as a British colony produced an anti-imperialist mood in Britain, I claim that the mid-nineteenth century witnessed the growth of a quasi anti-nationalist rhetoric that urged the establishment of a white international brotherhood. I will analyse mid-century rhetorical imperatives of racial harmony and international brotherhood and describe their place in British imperialist discourse. I then trace the end-point of such racialisation to later-century High Imperialist literature, focusing on "The Five Orange Pips" by Arthur Conan Doyle, in which Anglo-American communication channels are connected to tropes of blood brotherhoods and racial violence, and Goldwin Smith's 1887 essay "The Schism of the Anglo-Saxon Race."
The modern picture-industry has developed efficient and highly specialized mechanisms for the manufacturing and distribution of photographic material that is to be used for a variety of purposes in mass-media, advertising, or package design (like book covers, news magazines, TV backgrounds, etc). Picture agencies can choose, arrange, and promote their material in order to offer their customers a fast and convenient access to their archives and electronic databases by using simple keyword structures, providing selective catalogues and thereby making suggestions for how to illustrate abstract notions and everyday situations such as "beauty," "health," "environment," or "family life." The decision which pattern can be successfully applied to what kind of message is based on both the agents' experiences and the customers' response, and since many types of illustration do not require a specific artistic originality but allow the re-use of stereotypical icons, so-called Stock Photography agencies have slowly become the unexpected recorders of a collective memory defining the universal visual vocabulary of the society they were developed in.
On the other hand, as the production costs of pictures of an average quality remain comparably high, the setting-up of a global distribution system is to make the material available in as many countries as possible and transports the corresponding imagery into other visual cultures. Today, some agencies count several dozens of national offices world-wide, consisting of a copy of their headquater's core collection plus local additions. Though Stock Photography could only survive in foreign contexts because of the fact that the majority of global designers, editors, and readers has already become familiar with the icons and ideas of the western society, the transplantation of this kind of a pre-selected vocabulary and the underlying system of visual representation into different cultures has long-term and invisible effects for both the customers and the producers.
While refraining from making direct political commentary, this paper revolves around representations of atrocity and what other kinds of meanings might lie within such images. Can we talk about the "blowback" of witnessing testimonies of atrocity? Shoshana Felman asks a similar question: "If history has clinical dimensions, how can testimony intervene pragmatically and efficaciously at once historically (politically) and clinically?" (1995). How can an exploration of testimony generate new ways to think about intervention on an international political (historical) scale? I propose to probe the "blowback" of ITN's now iconic 1992 images of "concentration camps" operated by Bosnian Serbs. ITN's images of the camp linked the conflict to the most awful site of the 1940's: the concentration camp. But, I argue, this (mis)reading, the substitution of the representation of an event for the event itself, seems to only obliterate the actual event. Such a fused structure that rejects all possibility to cultivate a sense that past is past. Thus despite the growing predominance of the medium as a privileged mode of communication, testimony remains without ethical, clinical, historical or political guarantee.
The global proliferation of biological and electronic viruses dominates the daily news with a frequency that suggests a world on the brink of apocalyptic crisis. The dissolution of national borders that is said to characterize the new global economy is often represented as an effect of the "new media" that link even the farthest reaches of the globe in a virtual web, with alternately democratizing and contaminating results. But the rhetoric of contagion that pervades the contemporary discourse of globalization has a much longer history than these panicked reports would suggest. My paper examines the discursive construction of globalization as contagion in two historical periods, through two different media. Beginning with The Silent Invader (1957), I will argue that this public health film is driven by a compulsion to represent visually the spread of invisible contagions. This contradiction is resolved through a dialectic of indexicality and artificiality, or authenticity and simulation. That is, the film repeatedly attempts to produce realistic representations of the viral invasion of national and bodily boundaries, but failing to capture a photographic image of contagion, the film uses animation (an artificial representational technique), in its cinematic inoculation against communicable disease.
By comparing two modes of representing global contagion through two different technologies of visualization, my paper will ask how the problem of "invisibility" is complicated or resolved by post-photographic digital manipulations of the image of the diseased body. If geopolitical and subjective boundaries are indeed dissolved in the global marketplace of postmodernity, why is the imagery of invasion so prevalent in representations of the new media technologies that have enabled this world without borders to develop?
the coming years wireless telecommunications, virtual reality (VR),
real-time kinematic GPS, and a spatialized version of the Internet
known as Worldboard will converge into what researchers are calling
augmented reality (Feiner et al 1993). Augmented reality (AR) will
allow for the architectonic space of modernism's machine city to
be texture map by the screens of postmodernism's cybercity, and
in so doing it will complicate those postmodern theories which propose
that time has conquered space. Paul Virilio for instance sees the
terminal destiny of the static screenal interface as one of interactive
confinement for its users (Virilio 1997). For Virilio real-time
access to decentralized networks has rendered both the strategic
centrality of the modern city and the bounding and containing functions
of architectonic space increasingly irrelevant, giving rise to what
he calls telecentrism. Since the 1970s and the beginnings of the
world economic crisis Virilio argues that the city gate has given
way to the airport security gate as point of entry into the global
city. A new urban paradigm emerged out of this period in which risk
management determined the design of space, with architecture increasingly
becoming a texture map (what Walt Disney called imagineering). Just
as Disney World was opening its gates in 1973, whole sections of
downtowns (which had lost their strategic value) were being transformed
into ghettos for undesirables. In the past decade however, these
"abandoned" downtown cores have been "claimed"
by multinational media conglomerates and developed into urban entertainment
destinations (Disney development of New York's Time Square is exemplary).
In this paper, I argue that Disney's imagineering architecture is
the template for the augmented reality texture map and that this
Disneyfication of urban space signifies the installation of its
infrastructure. If properly designed I argue that augmented reality
could allow for a virtual urban future that would replace Virilio's
interactive confinement scenario with one of techno-nomadisms. If
poorly designed the augmented reality future might literally create
black holes in the vision of its techno-tourists: holes into which
those on the other side of the digital divide would simply disappear.
Needham, Lakeland Community College
The "World Out There," the first showstopping tune of Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, refers, in the immediate context of the film, to the alleyways and marketplaces beyond the grand, but stultifying confines of Notre Dame de Paris, as viewed longingly by Quasimodo from his isolated perch in the belfry above. Full of yearning, the song expresses Quasimodo's desire to be at liberty among the masses on the street below, to exist freely and without constraint outside the cloistered walls of the cathedral and beyond the perverse, damaging ministrations of Archdeacon Frollo, in whose narrow view, the "world out there"-a world of gypsies, mountebanks, criminals, and other marginals-is dangerous and impure. In a broader context, however, the "World Out There" refers as well to an enlarged awareness of a global geography, urging, on the part of its viewers, an acceptance of an ecumenical, not parochial perspective and an unqualified participation in a New World Order. It shares with other Disney film songs of the last decade, i.e., Aladdin's "Whole New World," The Little Mermaid's "Part of That World," a global orientation-the "world out there"-and an underlying (potentially globalizing) leitmotif-the desirability of a world without boundaries as the dynamic, utopian geography of endless possibilities and freedoms-in line with Disney Corporation's global mission: to be the worldwide leader in family entertainment.
In Children and the Politics of Culture (1995), Sharon Stephens claims that, in the age of accelerated globalization, we are witnessing a profound restructuring of social and psychological constructs of the child. Noting that issues of childhood have been neglected in analyses of late capitalism, Stephens suggests that to explore the processes of globalization the boundaries between politics and culture need to be theorized. Jo-Ann Wallace initiates this work in her study of the child's relation to theories of citizenship. Stating that the child is the aporia upon which various theories of knowledge have developed, Wallace notes a correspondence between early modernist and contemporary social anxieties centered on the child. Informed by these observations, this paper analyzes images of the child to explore connections between late-British and "new"-global imperialist constructions of an international child formally articulated in the first Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1924). In this analysis of global and local child-figures, I will situate the freely-traded economic child to inform an exploration of cultural interventions that prioritize human accountability. Interventionary images appearing in an early modernist film by Save the Children share affinities with those images indexed in such street-kid films as Luis Buñeul's Los Olvidados (1950), Hector Babenco's Pixote (1981), and Walter Salles's Central Station (1998). These films mark various crises of poverty through the figural street-child posing a primary threat to neo-liberal security; for alienated children, such films demonstrate, affective security is inseparable from social security. If ideological battles continue to be fought over the solitary child, an "alien" Elián González, for instance, then critical attention can be displaced from abandoned children in metropolitan centers everywhere, thereby abetting economic individualism at the expense of local and global social security.
Based loosely on Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire (1987) and Faraway So Close (1993), this paper is about emptiness and space in the city created by the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Taking the form of an essayistic meditation, it is a travelogue that collages some of the transformations and re-occupations of The City during the 1990s.
Combining photographic documentation of Berlin with a range of written material, the paper creates an interlacing fabric of a post-Cold War City where spaces geographic, economic, political, visual, personal, and linguistic are transcribed in an ambling sojourn from Postdamerplatz to the Reichstag. This visual and verbal City is traversed by a dislocated contemporary subject who shimmers between a role of citizen, migrant, and tourist. One objective of this journey is to consider how capitalism and language have occupied the City of Berlin after the collapse of the Communist Bloc, a critical mapping in which capitalism has become an underlying principle that threatens to become the new universal order.
I argue here that the discourse of alternative modernity, with its core concept of reworking tradition, is insufficient to map out the relationships between traditions and globalization in contemporary East Asian countries. In spite of the possibility of a "flexible" integration of tradition and globalization, there are still "bumps on the road to this end," so to speak. I will seek to qualify the optimism embedded in such a development discourse as "alternative modernity" by examining how tradition has become abstracted and reduced into nothing more than a myriad of images in globalization. The example I give here is of a contemporary Taiwanese woman writer, Tzu Tianxing, who reveals in her historical novella, "The Old Capital," the relationship between the history of Taiwan and contemporary globalization. Showing the major patterns of how traditions are reshaped by forces of globalization in Taiwan, this novella leads us to see the contraction between tradition and economic globalization in East Asia, a critical vista repressed in the optimistic discourse of alternative modernity. The melancholy history of Taipei, as unfolded by the stream of consciousness of You in "The Old Capital," brings the reader to see the rupture between tradition and globalization: tradition is likely to be compatible with globalization only when it succumbs to the power of globalization in denying meaning and appears in the form of a deferred gratification of what has been lost.
Sebastião Salgado, the most renowned Brazilian photographer nowadays, develops in projects as Outras Americas, Terra e xodos, a photography committed to new testimonial condition in the globalised world. It is easy to recognize the portraits by Salgado, profoundly disquieting, by the looks directed right at the lens of the photographer, the observed silently accusing his observer. We feel that Salgado nevertheless seeks to create a link of empathy with those represented, at the same time that he demonstrates an acute sensitivity to the guilt contained in his own observation. It is as if the exposure of the poverty adversely affected his own reality. It is not possible to know what represents the unique experience of each one of these people, portrayed by the traveling photographer, but the affective contact created by face and direct look freeze a privileged moment of ethical provocation. The exotic is found here, in the center of the incommunicable experience of suffering and dignity, of perseverance in survival and of the presence of the inhuman in the life portrayed that is revealed in Salgado's photos as silence, the sign of something unutterable and non-communicable.
of identifying the representation of the radically different and
the exterior, the exotic in Salgado's photos is the result
of the recognition of an interior condition assumed as non-identity,
like a blank space - the middle ground - from which the identity
is suggested in the possibility of a political project of solidarity.
Nonetheless, in his project, the photos themselves are intended
to balance in a dangerous swing between two abysms of representation.
On the one hand, banality of pornographic overexposure of the poverty
is avoided, and, on the other, he resists the temptation of falling
into the romantic exoticism of a supposed original identity in pre-modern
cultures or in the simple life of poverty. The anthropological eye
is no longer the privilege of the traveler who visits a strange
world, guaranteed by his exterior position. It is characterized
by the look that takes risks and exposes itself to what is defined
as a stranger, foreigner and visitor. In his quest, he looks at
himself, recognizing that the alterity of the exotic involves and
at the same time represents the collective possibility of an unconfessable
community with that which threatens and escapes.
Ghosh, Independent Scholar
The dominant rhetoric on globalization has come from the corporate sector and national governments representing these interests. This rhetoric often advocates making national borders elastic in order to facilitate the movement of trade and capital. This rhetoric mixes the idea of free trade with democracy, various freedoms, cvilizational progress, and individualism. Challenging these assumptions exists a counter-rhetoric on globalization as experienced by marginalized groups and communities. This counter-rhetoric does not have the same visibility in the media as the former but does manage to influence it in definitive ways.
My paper deals with this counter-rhetoric on globalization. In particular it studies the use of a Web site by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a grassroots movement on the banks of the Narmada river in India. This movement protests the human rights abuses and environmental destruction caused by the construction of big dams on this river. As part of the protest the inhabitants of the river valley use the media - including the Internet - to show images of endangered communities, their local habitat, and their attempts to protest and gain visibility. Consequently, they succeed in establishing complex links with people from other classes, regions, and nations, and create an imagined global community of support.
I specifically examine the nature of this imagined community in my paper. I look at the manner in which grassroots activists and the middle class supporters interrupt each other. Such interruptions are often fractious and open up spaces in which actions lose their precise meanings and create the possibility of multiple interpretations. It is precisely in such ambiguous spaces that power fluctuates, hegemonies break down, and new modes of intercommunal relationships become possible. Such possibilities redefine the processes of globalization.
This paper looks at the relationships among walking violence, and globalization in Tokyo. I juxtapose the representation of space of Tokyo, the official account of an efficient, affluent informational city of the future, with the representational space, the private account dramatizing walking in Tokyo in Sinya Tsukamoto's films Tetsuo: The Iron Man series and Tokyo Fist. In this social/urban account, I examine some significant urban restructuring projects during Tokyo's formation into a global city in the 1980s to demonstrate how the Tokyo metropolis invites its inhabitants to identify with the city's new image and find their sense of self firmly anchored in it. In other words, the global city prescribes a model relationship between the inhabitants and the space to its best advantage. In this sense, Tokyo is Henri Lefebvre's capitalist abstract space par excellence, which promotes flexible accumulation of capital at the cost of the inhabitants' everyday-life space.
While the first part of this paper is devoted to exposing the invisible violence of Tokyo's abstract space, the second section seeks to critique the normalizing power by exploring mimicry, a possible aberrational response to the abstract space. I will draw on Roger Caillois' theory of mimicry to explain how the films of Sinya Tsukamoto, one of the most interesting contemporary Japanese directors, demonstrate the relationships among mimicry subjectivity, and space under the domination of the global economy. The theory of mimicry helps to explain how the subject can be so overwhelmed by and attracted to the power of the abstract space that he becomes one with the space by mimicking the forces imposed upon him, as seen in Tsukamoto's films. In these works, Tokyo signifies a wild kinetic field for the flows of primal desires and fears as well as for global flows. The pathological violence permeating the images of walkers and their walking invites us to (re)consider the effects of the imposing global space.
Departing from the premise that an icon is a gateway to something beyond ordinary experience as well as a widely-recognizable image, this essay explores some of the ways the Mount Everest has taken on iconic proportions in contemporary society. Drawing on writings about mountains in general and Mount Everest in particular, the essay focuses on two films about Everest ascents: The Conquest of Everest (1953) and the IMAX Everest (1998).
Kwang Chi is an Asian American photographer who was born in Hong
Kong and immigrated to Canada with his family at the age of 16.
In 1978, he moved to the East Village in New York and developed
his career as a photographer. Beginning in 1979, he spent ten years
in creating his visual arts, "East Meets West: The Expedition
Series." In these visual art series, he was dressed in Mao
suits, and shot photos of "self portrait" in front of
famous tourist sights all over the world: London Bridge, The Statue
of Liberty, Disney World, Cape Canaveral, The Eiffel Tower, The
Empire State Building, The Grand Canyon, and so on. Almost without
being noticed by most audiences, whenever Tseng made sa self-portrait
in the Mao suit, he always wore a tiny photo identification badge,
which read: "visitor: SlutforArt." Tseng drew attention
from cultural and art critics since he began exhibiting photographs
in New York in the mid-1980s. In 1990, Tseng died of AIDS, at the
age of 39. In 1999, nine years after Tseng's death, Tseng Muna,
a dancer and Tseng Swang Chi's sister, collaboratd with Theater
Director Ping Chong and performaed a dance theater, SlutforArt,
in memory of her brother as well as other New York artists who died
of AIDS. Muna Tseng's SlutforArt was a multi-media dance theater
which combined her solo dance, slides of Tseng Kwang Chi's family
photos and artistic photographs, and audio/visual documentations
of interviews with Tseng Kwang Chi's friends and relatives who talked
about Tseng's ambivalence and cultural schizophrenia between his
white gay friends, Chinese family, and the artistic community in
the East Village in New York. In this paper, I analyze Tseng Kwang
Chi's "East Meets West" and Tseng Muna's dance theater,
SlutforArt, especially in relation to the orientalist gaze, the
map of queer global cartography Tseng Kwang Chi constructed, and
the slippage and cleavage of memories and lives in the wake of globalization.
the case to be studied I will use Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, which
was redeveloped as an office and entertainment complex over the
past ten years. I argue that this mega-project was key in Berlin's
search for a new identity, and that the spectacularization of the
building process was central in the attempt to appropriate Potsdamer
Platz as (a) the new center of Berlin and (b) as a symbol of Berlin's
role on a global scale.
Vetters, University of Ghent and Rutgers University
The view from the moon described by American astronaut Frank Borman in Newsweek in December 1968 ("this is really one world and why the hell can't we learn to live together like decent people") became accessible to everyone after an astronaut took a series of photographs of the earth during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. In the years that followed, one of these photographs, known as AS17-148-22727, became one of the most popular images of the earth ever produced. As Richard Muir explains in Political Geographies, not only did "the photographic image of the planet . . . [supplant] the Mercator map and the cartographer's globe as an icon of the Earth," it also became a symbol of the earth's "oneness."
Today, however, this symbol of the earth's oneness is not so mucha ssociated with Borman's utopian vision of a universal brotherhood but with fast Internet connections, investment opportunities, quarterpounders with cheese, and promises of overnight delivery. Since the late 1980s, versions of and variations on AS17 have become the image used by international corporations and multinationals to promote the oneness of a global market, selling not so much a series of products and services as a single, reassuring idea, namely that despite our differences, we're all the same because we want the same things. Yet AS17 has not become the exclusive property of global capital. In Night on Earth by Jim Jarmush, for example, an image of the globe from outer space is used to remind us of the potential of Borman's vision, creating a narrative that spatializes time, raising questions about universalism, center and periphery, and the politics of seeing, while promoting another, more comlex type of narrative, centered on what Bruce Robbins has recently called Feeling Global. This paper seeks to explore the history, use, and significance of the globe as image and the various strategies involved in selling the global village (or, more accurately, the Global City) both as a product and as an idea.
its images were generally always of elite lifestyle in Mumbai, Femina
was read mainly by urban, English-educated middle class women until
it was substantially changed into an international quality publication
in the 1908s and its readership became a body of elite young women.
This examination of forty years of Femina allows us to take
a gendered perspective on globalization, and to observe how global
flows of transnational capital help to shape elite femininity in
Mumbai. During the 1960s and 1970s, when the Indian economy was
open to foreign trade and investment, issues of Femina, a popular
Indian women's magazine, were quite international in flavor. However,
during the 1980s, this content took on a more provincial tone. Through
nearly 50 years of Femina, this presentation examines changing
depictions of Indian women against the backdrop of India's changing
economy. It also demonstrates ways in which female sexuality is
used to advertise products-or not.