Jaspar Joseph-Lester


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Episode: The Pleasure and Persuasion of Lens Based Media

EPISODE Symposium
Leeds Met Gallery

EPISODE is a research initiative set up to generate critical reflection around lens-based artworks and the role they play in establishing and interrogating our experiences of belief in western contemporary culture at large. This project explores these issues in a cross-institutional collaboration between America and the UK. In this symposium, invited papers will explore how photographic and video images prompt, determine or otherwise produce our beliefs.

2.30pm Matthew Poole: Introduction
2.45 Sharon Kivland: A Viennese Waltz
3.10 Discussion with Sharon Kivland, chaired by Jaspar Joseph-Lester
3.20 Suhail Malik: The Primacy of Media
3.50 Discussion with Suhail Malik, chaired by Amanda Beech
4.00 Break
4.30 Plenary Discussion, chaired by Matthew Poole
5.00 Symposium Ends

Sharon Kivland: A Viennese Waltz

"My paper will take up the question of pleasure, addressed in the press release of the exhibition EPISODE, and linked to ethics, rhetoric and affect. Through an ambulation between works in the exhibition, and through a pleasant though perhaps surprising détour to the opening sequence of Max Ophuls’ film of 1950, La Ronde, I will enter the round of images and their seductive falsehoods, reminding you that it was not Galileo’s concepts that troubled the Church authorities so much as his use of lenses to observe the world and describe it. What am I following? Well, it is something of the staged abyss of desire, established in the strange science of optics, the alluring manoeuvres of the pre-oedipal triangle, the double deception that deceives by pretending to deceive, the order of surface appearances rendered observable and thus concealing an underlying structure.

Sharon Kivland is an artist, writer and occasional curator. She is Reader in Fine Art in the School of Cultural Studies at Sheffield Hallam University and Research Associate of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, London. She has exhibited widely in Europe and North America.

Suhail Malik: The Primacy of Media

EPISODE emphasises what happens at the level of the lens-generated image as an image, on *this* side of the lens so to speak. The means of production of the works in this show seem to dominate the ostensible referential content of the images, or are at least equal to them.

The primacy of the medium - here the lens and all the technical and institutional apparatus that it is integrated with - throws into uncertainty the received notions of documentation and even referentiality, in which the image is a derivative record of a 'primary scene' that happens in an actuality that precedes its imaging. What is instead opened up is a condition in which the media is not so much the message, as Marshall McLuhan said, but itself action.

With reference to current events, the equivalence between media and action is at once at the core of how contemporary news reporting takes place even while the disavowal of this condition provides it with its alibi.

Suhail Malik is a writer and teaches in the department of Visual Arts at Goldsmiths College, London. He is currently working on a philosophy of American Power.