Jacques Perconte
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  3 juillet 2016  
Cubitt, Sean, Academia.edu.
Untimely Ripped (Against the Mass Image)
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Transimage Conference | 1st – 3rd July 2016 | Plymouth: The Atemporal Image

I take the Aristotelean view that the question for ethics is 'How should I live?" and the question for politics is "How are we supposed to live?" Aristotle's next step was to argue that in both instances, these are questions about the good life. These are fundamentally aesthetic questions. So let me advance as a hypothesis that the reason for doing any of the art, science and critique we undertake is happiness. The world we have is unhappy, so happiness depends on negating what is given to us as the world. That is what images do: they negate the world in order to produce pictures that are more more startling, richer, surer, more Tilled with meaning and more desirable than what we have to inhabit. Even images of unhappy events attempt to heal them. An image aspires to happiness. The proliferation of images is a different matter.


To make an image atemporal, it sufTices to remove it from the mass image. Given sufTicient attention, any image can escape the eternal present of the mass image which quite simply is time, the eternal image of movement. (this time is in fact the time of debt, the structure of time as destiny, a future where all debts are reconciled which is both absolutely compulsory and indeTinitely postponed – we can discuss this later if anyone is interested). The internal time of scanned images demonstrates their failure to exist: to be present. But this failure to inhabit the now is in the end a saving grace. It is what allows time to burst out of the prison of the frame the mass image has it locked up in.

If there's still time I'd like to demonstrate how a critical practice, in this case of image making, takes the terms of contemporary circulation – the MPEG codec in this instance – and frees it from both the stillness of the traditional image and the eternity of the mass image, to create an atemporality of a new kind, a video work by Jacques Perconte, Chuva, from 2012 (documented in low‐res at https://vimeo.com/50592418).

In conclusion, the new atemporal image is no longer merely human. It must relate to the massive growth in machine to machine communication. It must also relate to the massive concentration of minerals and energy in the electronic production and circulation of images. It must that is engage with the non‐human, and with non-human temporalities of ancestral and ecological labour . The atemporal is untimely – in many senses – and the untimely is unheimlich, uncanny. The subject of the traditional (Narrative, perspectival) image was human. Today no human could ever see every image and video. No scientist could know all scientific facts, so we ascribe knowledge to Science; no human can understand all trades, so The Market knows them. The subject who knows the mass image is no longer human. What this liberates is the possibility of video like Perconte's which propose to show how the machine perceives, and how the non‐human environment perceives itself. Liberating the codec may be a first step towards answering Aristotle's question "How are we to live", by proposing that the "we" involved must include the non‐human.

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