Since the early 1990s, the use of “obsolete”
media and technologies has figured prominently in contemporary art. What is remarkable about this turn to the so-called outmoded
is the sheer range of inventiveness with which “old” media are applied, bestowing upon them new and original uses. This engagement
with the materiality and historicity of technology in general and photography and cinema in particular offers a way of (re-)interrogating
the very idea of these media and of making manifest their inherent qualities.
Assembling an international and trans-disciplinary
team of artists and scholars, this arts-based research project will explore the widespread pursuit of photographic and cinematic
devices from the viewpoint of “retrograde technicity.” The project will be led by Edgar Lissel, whose artistic work exemplifies
the topic. Two key questions are: How does the concept of retrograde technicity create new knowledge? How can the productive
nature of artistic research and the effects of artistic production be mapped?
The term “retrograde technicity”
is situated within the broader field of “obsolescence,” but clearly engages with the historicity of technological forms. In
a more general perspective, retrograde technicity is characterized by the replacement of technical devices of a “higher” order
by technical devices of a “lower” order, and it can take a variety of forms. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the
phenomenon of retrograde technicity today is prominent not only in art, but also in popular culture (from the revival of Polaroid
photography to such recent inventions such as the LomoKino). Hence, retrograde technicity is a broad social phenomenon that
is having a considerable impact on the ways we interact with (audio-)visual media.
In cooperation with our national
and international partners (Austrian Filmmuseum; Hubertus von Amelunxen), seven international artists (David Gatten,
Sandra Gibson/Luis Recoder, Rosângela Rennó, Hanna Schimek, Gebhard Sengmüller, Apichatpong Weerasethakul) and three external
experts (Ruth Horak, Jan Kaila, Kim Knowles), our project will provide an experimental platform for arts-based research that
will benefit all participants and, we hope, observers. This project will result in both a new methodology for artistic research
as well as new insights into the concept of retrograde technicity.
One of the key methodological tools and means
of exchange and dissemination will be the project website (including a blog and a database), which will document the research
process and its results. As well, a workshop, an international conference, a final presentation of the research process and
the resulting artefacts, and a compilation of printed materials will be provided.www.resettheapparatus.net