Intermittences in the contemporary visual culture: the picture postcard and the recreative

“Understanding contemporary visual culture as a result of the game between socio-economic conditions, technological advances and artistic operations over the past two centuries, we ask ourselves: What are the relationships between image, word and the reality? What are the connections between different devices of the current media context? and the interaction between operations artistic, images’ social commerce and the founding values of the aesthetic institution (art / non art, high / low, author / viewer, original / copy …)? This broad issue finds a more accurate direction in the analysis of images and uses of the postcard over the first three decades of the century XX and 80, 90 and 2000 and also in the recollection of this artistic media appropriation, inseparable from the advent of photography and installation of a network of world postal communication. We believe that, although the scientific archive about the collective iconography progressively becomes more extensive, particularly with the affirmation of epistemological fields ranging from sociology of the imaginary to the visual cultural studies, just to mention two recent examples, this does not make it unnecessary, on the contrary, it makes it urgent to persistently review the theory of the image, which takes into account different aspects of the same technologization process, started in the century XIX with photography and film, and which continues today with the realities of digital and virtual environments web 2.0 … The review of this path is drawn in our study with the support of the notions of recreation and remediation. The recreational image corresponds to a paradoxical conception of image and technique as entities that would be, on the one hand, aimed at “a sensitivity pulled by the crank,” retaking the expressive formula of Moisés de Lemos Martins (2011), through forms of alienation and automation and, on the other hand, the favourable to the exercise of experience and the affirmation of the historical condition, through reinvention, rearrangement and repair tactics. The notion of remediation, terminology suggested by Bolter & Grusin (2000), requires an understanding of the complex contemporary media as an interdependent whole, united by non-chronological relationships of collaboration and hybridization, which rupture with the linear sequential scheme that distinguishes new and old media. A culture crossed by recreation and remediation tactics is also, as the visionary thought of Walter Benjamin (1991, 1992) glimpsed, a culture where the boundaries between the positions of author and viewer, the status of original and copy and high and low have been weakened, artificial normative categories that were intended to legitimize the discourse of aesthetic institution, but which would remain absent within our daily and spontaneous route of polymorphic visual atmospheres and would be, moreover, object of the most heterogeneous artistic derisions, paradoxically today assimilated by that aesthetics institution. The picture postcard, once the protagonist of universal expositions, today ubiquitous in major policultural centres of modern and contemporary art – in its stores, in their classrooms and in their leisure spaces, such as coffee shops, bars and restaurants – fits our problem in a very particular way: object between art and commerce, with pictures and words, photography vehicle, close relative of cinema, the postal lends itself both to the exploration of a stereotypy of affects and it also offers to tricks, the tricks and the assemblies of its users. Nevertheless the general malaise that hangs over the ideas of culture, art and picture from the beginning of the XX century with the critic to the cultural industries up to the present day with the attacks to the society of the spectacle of Guy Debord and the society of the simulacrum of Jean Baudrillard, we propose the following simple and laborious maximum suggested by Michel Maffesoli (1998), “dire oui à la vie”, mapping the intervals of action, the fragments of experience and the pieces of history collected by the best known and most anonymous, for the most exceptional and the most banal recreators of the image and the remakers of the real”.

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Maria da Luz Correia | Orientadores: Moisés de Lemos Martins & Michel Maffesoli