The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture, By Franis Guerinn and Roger Hallas

– ‘images are not just a particular kind of sign,  but something like an actor on the historical stage, a presence or character endowed with legendary status, a history that parallels and participates in the stories we tell ourselves about our own evolution from creatures ‘made in the image’ of a creator, to creatures who make themselves and their world in their own image’ – W.J.T. Mitchell.

– ‘the iconoclasm that pervades the production, dissemination, and philosophy of the image in the 21st century is nowhere more pronounced than it is in relation to images of traumatic historical events. In spite of the ubiquity of public images that witness such events, there is a persistant scepticism expressed toward their capacity to remember or redeem the experience of the traumatised victim. Similarly, images have been repeatedly deemed inadequate in the face of events understood to be too heinous to be represented. This is because, hitherto, images have been embraced for their mimetic promise. For their perceived ability to produce a representation which addresses the demand for evidence triggered by historical trauma. As Kyo Maclear asserts in her study of testimonial art about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the visual art of witnessing has long been ‘tethered to criteria of accuracy and authenticity’ that insist in an ‘ evidentiary necessity’ as the principal function of such art, and if, as trauma studies maintained in the last decades of the traumatic experience. Then the mimetic image claims to represent what is, in fact, unrepresentable.’ -p2
– ‘this popular skepticism toward the visual representation of historical trauma finds its intellectual correlate in the shared assumptions of two interdisciplinary formations that have profoundly influenced te contemporary course of the humanities: visual studies and trauma studies. Both formations developed partially in response to the post structuralist critique of representation that understood the categories of truth and the real as effects of discourse, and therefore as historical constructs’ – p3
‘The concept of the Anaheim as performative moves our understanding of it away from the all-too-common tendency toward iconoclasm. This shift away from an evaluation of the mimetic achievement (and failures) of the documentary image to produce evidence toward an interrogation of the language, processes and broader concerns of visual documentation extends the interest of documentary studies, most influential lu in the work of bull Nichols and Michael renov. -p4/5.
– the Collective Imaginary – p5 – the idea of a collective understanding of historicised media / history.

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  1. Pingback: Morning routines and train of thought | anomiepete

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