Johnny Golding: After the Dark Room: Ana-materialism and the sensuous fractalities of speed & light (or does the image still speak a thousand words?)
In my world, there have been at least three types of darkroom: (1) the laboratory, with its chemical baths and dull-orange exposure; (2) the backroom club, with its fetishized rhythms and differently organised friendships of circulation and exchange; and finally (3) the closet, with its secrets and wounds and dreams and escape plans, inserted neatly between shoes, trousers, shirts and suits. Each has its own set of rules and regulations, its own dangers and provocations, its own pungent aromas, mess, and light source poetics. All require a particular technical knowledge, a practicality laced with, say, an expertise specific to each of those very different, darkroom spatialities. To varying degrees, each might require some form of curiosity, experimentation and risk, tugging on the wider sensations of attraction, limit, destruction, reason, taste. But most of all, and no matter how different each darkroom might be from the other, they all have one thing in common, one thing that puts them into this realm of the dark: each, in their own way, work off the collapse of the past and the future into an immediate intensity that draws together, and indeed swallows up, subject, object, and anything 'in between' the into the black-hole dot of 'being-there', right here, right now.
Almost three decades ago, in a small volume entitled Rhythmes: De l'oeuvre, de la traduction, et de la psychanalyse (1985), Nicolas Abraham asks the following question: "What condition must be created so that this or that mute phenomenon may begin to speak – to recount the pain and the accidents of, and the withdrawal into – its inaccessibility?" (Rhythms: 1996, xii). The work is then developed along the now familiar flight paths of symptom, complex, semantics, translation, anxiety, repression and habituation. It lands nicely on a new(ish) field that he names 'Psychoanalytic Aesthetics.'
Jean Luc Nancy throws a small bomb onto the question of image,
This got me to thinking. What if the same question were asked, but this time, developed not via the psychoanalytic route, but addressed in terms of the now wild conundrums that have insinuated themselves as (almost) everyday phenomena since the 1980s: the rise of dolly the sheep and her cloned companions; the birth of Synthia and her human-ish stem cells; and, most important for us today at this conference, rise (and rise and rise) of an information 'age' of where the massification of the copy-image technologies and forced an entire re-think of the game (the game of aesthetics, politics, ethics; one might even say 'the game of life'). Once we leave the dark room and immerse ourselves fully in the kind of oddly cathected surface-structure anomalies, rough and without 'edge' or 'frame' as associated with fractal, speed and light, a strange set of patterns and possibilities offer themselves for the taking. To paraphrase Mandelbrot, the inventor of fractal geometry, for centuries the very idea of measuring roughness was an idle dream, but today, right now, we can do it in a flash.