Steyerl 2012

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Steyerl, Hito. The Wretched of the Screen. (Sternberg Press, 2012)

In Free Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective

disorientation, loss of horizons

history of linear perspective, breaking up of linear perspective with Turner's painting, The Slave Ship (1840)

now, birds-eye perspective reigns

"A fall toward objects without reservation, embrac- ing a world of forces and matter, which lacks any original stability and sparks the sudden shock of the open: a freedom that is terrifying, utterly deter- ritorializing, and always already unknown. Falling means ruin and demise as well as love and abandon, passion and surrender, decline and catastrophe. Falling is corruption as well as liberation, a condi- tion that turns people into things and vice versa.17 It takes place in an opening we could endure or enjoy, embrace or suffer, or simply accept as reality." (28)

In Defense of the Poor Image

"The poor image is a rag or a rip; an AVI or a JPEG, a lumpen proletariat in the class society of appearances, ranked and valued according to its resolution. The poor image has been uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, and reedited. It transforms quality into accessibility, exhibition value into cult value, films into clips, contemplation into distraction. The image is liberated from the vaults of cinemas and archives and thrust into digital uncertainty, at the expense of its own substance. The poor image tends toward abstraction: it is a visual idea in its very becoming." (32)

"Poor images are the contemporary Wretched of the Screen, the debris of audiovisual production, the trash that washes up on the digital economies’ shores." (32)

"rich image" of blockbuster cinema; "poor image" of the avant-garde, circulated in copied VHS tapes etc.

"the poor image reveals the decline and degradation of the film essay, or indeed any experimental and noncommercial cinema, which in many places was made possible because the production of culture was considered a task of the state. Privatization of media production gradu- ally grew more important than state-controlled/ sponsored media production. But, on the other hand, the rampant privatization of intellectual con- tent, along with online marketing and commodifica- tion, also enables piracy and appropriation; it gives rise to the circulation of poor images." (39)

"The networks in which poor images circulate thus constitute both a platform for a fragile new common interest and a battleground for commercial and national agendas." (40)

"Altogether, poor images present a snapshot of the affective condition of the crowd, its neurosis, paranoia, and fear, as well as its craving for intensity, fun, and distrac- tion." (41)

"In this light, perhaps one has to redefine the value of the image, or, more precisely, to create a new perspective for it. Apart from resolution and exchange value, one might imagine another form of value defined by velocity, intensity, and spread. Poor images are poor because they are heavily compressed and travel quickly. They lose matter and gain speed." (41)

"On the one hand, it operates against the fetish value of high resolution. On the other hand, this is precisely why it also ends up being perfectly integrated into an information capitalism thriving on compressed attention spans, on impression rather than immer- sion, on intensity rather than contemplation, on previews rather than screenings." (42)

"The poor image is no longer about the real thing—the originary original. Instead, it is about its own real conditions of existence: about swarm circulation, digital dispersion, fractured and flexible temporalities. It is about defiance and appropria- tion just as it is about conformism and exploitation. In short: it is about reality." (44)