Memory and device

From a perspective rooted in tradition, visual arts have strongly supported a predominance of spatiality when setting productions; instituting, in that movement, a time deposition. In the eighteenth century, Lessing’s essays on painting are proof of the impossibility of such discipline when translating temporality.

Convergently, Sigfried Kracauer, in 1927 and WalterBenjamin, in 1935 agree on the sense deployed by the photographic device: a subtraction of what was registered through its history, its tradition. This subtraction operates as a time detention whereas photography eliminates from the portrayed the pass of such time. Such perspective is shared by theorists such as André Bazin and Roland Barthes.

Perhaps, the futurist insistence on capturing movement during the first decades of the 20th century has tempted a way of incorporating temporality into the plane’s bidimensionality. Thus, both Carrá and Severini’s paintings, but especially the Bragaglia’s photographs, who uses long-exposure times, assume a debt to chrono photographic experiments that Muybridge and Marey developed in the 19th century.

Ariel Ballester’s series of photographs Construir la memoria, is part of this reflexive line where temporality seizes the photographic but, in this case, hybridizing it with a complex and multiple network of technological devices whose axis appears determined by the web.

As stated by Deleuze, memory is something virtual that is updated, which implies a temporal intertwinement and, in a sense, an inability to establish accuracy between the logics of the present and the past to the extent in which it (such past) breaks into our present.

This logic of memory is, in turn, intersected by a tradition that is constitutive of the universe of recording devices in an attempt to examine the otherness: the journey.

So, Ballester is compelled to take a trip, via the web, to the territoriality of Japan devastated by the fury of nature. Virtually installed in one of those streets, he captures views of the four corners of the desolate universe. As contemporary art can do everything, it was possible that Ballester, located at the same point, could register the same views of the same site but before the disaster.

Subsequently, eight superimposed images, this is the before and the after, the past and the now, to create a video that looped, allows for a shooting thereof which is exposed by the artist for one minute and forty seconds, the approximate time duration of the earthquake.

At the bottom of the images, as a footprint of the virtual tour, indelible marks of the artist’s position are left, perhaps as an invitation to the viewer to experience a new dimension of temporality and, therefore, of memory, but this time in a technology key.

Jorge Zuzulich