Situational Assemblages

Hillman, John (2015) Situational Assemblages. In: Mnemonics Summer School, University of London. (Unpublished)

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The configuration of people, places and things is where cultural meanings and memories of society are situated and held. Jane Bennett describes objects arbitrarily organized together as forming a contingent tableau. Suggesting each object depends on the others being there for their existence or truth, she claims they each have a deeper value, one reliant upon their relationships to one another and to the settings into which they are placed. They have, as she describes, a ‘vital materiality.’ The gathering and keeping together of arbitrary objects is also a function of the photograph. Photographs can and often do bring together the overlooked material of the world. This paper will ask what happens if we re-orientate our relationships with and to photographs? By considering the materiality and agency of the photograph I suggest that photographs may have an efficacy that goes beyond any purpose we usually allocate to them. Examining what happens if matter, if things, ‘photographic things’ are reconsidered as non-representational I suggest that affective encounters with photographs force us to reconsider who and where we are. However, the tension between our memory of photographs and our experiences of the material world may be responsible for the disjunctive thoughts that interrupt our behaviour. The gap between materiality and our experience of it is asserted through photographs and articulated by the way they function. Wherein the unreliability of photographs suggests the certainty with which we are unable to comprehend an excess of materiality. If photography is the trace of looking, a technique for assembling a contingent tableau, exposing excess, is it possible to reconsider photographs as situational frames, assemblages that suggest a void between the materiality of things and our capacity to act as part of a network of human and non-human agents?

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
3 January 2015Accepted
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-04 - cinematics and photography
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts > School of Visual Communication
Depositing User: John Hillman
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 09:21
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:57

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