Everything is dark, is light

  • Pettican, A. (Speaker)
  • Spencer Roberts (Speaker)
  • Kristin Mojsiewicz (Contributor to Paper or Presentation)
  • Chara Lewis (Contributor to Paper or Presentation)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Everything is Dark, is Light explores The Thread of One Desire, an evolving artwork which questions the technologies, institutions and faculties of representation by staging an encounter with intensity and affect. It attempts to reactivate the museum - perhaps the most notorious institution of representation - by refracting processes of historical capture through an anti-representational, intensive and affective lens. In this sense it employs the technologies of the digital virtual, which are so often associated with simulation and representation in order to instantiate a space of material potentiality – a condition more readily associated with anti-representational philosophies of temporality, virtuality and affect.

Whilst making the work, the artists were given unrestricted access to the Freud Museum London, where they recorded a series of embodied, material and sonic performances using X-Box Kinects and a number of contact microphones that were carefully positioned around Freud’s former London home. The infra-red (IR) depth-finding scanning devices, themselves long associated with digital modes of representational capture, attempted to abstract the temporal-materiality of the space into a series of granular x,y,z coordinate descriptions, which might at a later date be used to instantiate a navigable four dimensional representation of the museum, the archive and its occupants.

Despite myths of veridical environmental capture, the Kinect as a technology is in many ways crude. It is low in definition, subject to interference, and reacts to some environments and materials in haphazard and unpredictable ways – a series of perceptual maladies that result in a number of voids, ruptures and ambiguities that were poetically exploited by the artists in the construction of their work. The material and contingent nature of the sensing apparatus, like the performative interventions of the artist themselves, served to refract, fragment and ultimately usurp modes of representation – contesting any sense of museological stasis through deliberate strategies of cross-modal transfer, defamiliarisation, selection, abstraction and the presentation of ambiguous and serendipitous form.

One of the most pressing issues for our emerging affective pedagogies, concerns the instantiation of felt modes of relational transformation – the feeling of becoming other, or more sympathetic momentary points of contact with differential modes of presence. The work aims to bring about intensity of emotion through material-relational translation. In this sense, it aims to work transformatively upon its audience – to provide a becoming uncanny, or a set of uncanny becomings, through the choreography of a rich spectrum of relations.

The Freud museum was more than a house for its inhabitants. It was a dynamic, psychodramatic space infused with muliplicitous desire. Much like Deleuze’s notion of the virtual, Freud’s unconscious stands as his darkest and most luminous of concepts. In The Thread of One Desire, persistences, repetitions and prefigurations are characterised by (im)penetrable opacities. Everything is dark, is light. The psychic condition of the museological encounter is something roving, unsettled, projected, performed. This results in an affective rendering of the site that is loaded with ambiguity – a performative milieu in which the unheimlich is given a way to emerge through a confluence of visual and aural relations.

Period21 Oct 2019
Held atUniversity of Barcelona, Spain