Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
Is the image a bribe?
Tuesday, June 7, 2022 | Emily Doucet
Cwynar’s collections of objects and images are just as mobile as digital images. Evident in her work is a profound appreciation for the long life-cycle of objects and images. Sorted by colour or subject, among other metadata, their fate is not unlike the images on our phones: sorted, searched, organized, collected, but often forgotten. And yet, these images take up space, on our phones, in our minds, on servers. Our collections take on weighty forms, drawing us into a constellation of extractive industries in inescapable ways. This extraction is material (not least in the minerals and exploitative labour practices which form the matter of analogue and digital photography alike) but also psychological. Participation in systems designed to circulate, store, and collect images also ensures that we are never forgotten by any device or service ever encountered. This too, Cwynar reminds us, is true of objects and images; we can’t quit their material forms. The plastic and celluloid detritus of the twentieth century is a kind of data, exchanged for convenience and forevermore with us. At this point, you may have noticed that I have not provided much description of the visual content of the objects that Cwynar uses in her work. This is because the mechanisms and apparatuses of image circulation are the real subjects here. Perhaps, as she suggests, we have “lost the plot on the image,” mesmerized by movement. In a 1963 speech entitled “Authoritarian and Democratic Technics,” Lewis Mumford described the relationship between the public and technological systems under capitalism (what Mumford calls “authoritarian technics”) as a kind of “magnificent bribe.” Mumford’s concept of the “bribe” describes the process by which individuals abdicate autonomy in exchange for convenience—forgoing personal data privacy in order to use corporate social media platforms, to use a contemporary example.
Talking screens, translating media: a conversation with Oliver Husain
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 | Emily Doucet
Oliver Husain is an artist and filmmaker based in Toronto. His exhibitions and films combine elements of cinema and performance, drawing on a range of objects, stories, and materials to create lush, curious environments that denaturalize architectures and histories alike. I first wrote about Oliver’s work in a 2016 review of an exhibition of his film Isla Santa Maria 3D at Gallery TPW in Toronto. Then, as now, I was mesmerized by the way Husain kaleidoscopically interrogates his subjects. I spoke with him this summer over Zoom while we were both in Germany (him in Berlin and me in Essen) about several of his recent projects, including DNCB, a collaboration with Kerstin Schroedinger which explores the communal history of Dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB)—a highly toxic chemical used in both colour film processing and alternative treatments for individuals living with AIDS during the 1980s and 1990s—and Streamy Windows, a collaborative experiment in producing for live streaming.
One World Streaming Together
Wednesday, June 10, 2020 | Emily Doucet
Since the early days of the internet, people have shared information and experiences virtually when doing so in person was physically or socially impossible, but the current moment arguably represents something different. I hesitate to be prescriptive about what we should be watching instead, since that should and will look different for each community affected. But all this emphasis on “liveness” and narratives about how we’re going to get out of this have left me yearning for a bit more reflection on how we got here in the first place. Maybe solidarity looks a little bit less like representing the crisis and a little more like telling a story about how things could be different next time.