- 13 DECEMBER 2022
- DAVIDE ANDREATTA
- Image by
- DAVIDE ANDREATTA
Fear of God: the algorithm as a future darkroom
Davide Andreatta (@base.materialism) is an art director, fashion stylist and writer working for Red Eye as AI editor. Embracing different media, his practice focuses on zeroings, wounds and diasporas, be they digital or analog. In “Fear of God” some negatives of pictures taken by his parents (from their honeymoon to the birth of his brothers) were scanned and then developed outside of a proper darkroom. Instead, Google reverse image search algorithm was fed with these negatives and turned them into similar images (which is exactly what happens in the darkroom when you start with an image impressed on film and from there you develop a similar image – for a start, colors are inverted). Subtitles were created by AI using the following statement as initial input.
It is not clear to me which one is the ghost, my parents and their "from behind" or the climate disaster. Anyway, a question of ecology and, like the end, the revenant cannot be late. Everything is next.
Something completely different from you and me. The ghost, that is, not these images. And yet both are a question of repetition, «a specter is always a revenant. One cannot control its comings and goings because it begins by coming back». A revitalization that imposed itself without going through bereavement within its easiest and most filmic dimension, but is attracted rather by the constant destruction of the inorganic, which does not stop demanding the return now. Without heroism of any sort.
I know what my parents look like, I see their faces daily, I saw their ghosts slip along with their expectations (I live among them, although they require a different latitude, a different method of approach), it is not difficult to imagine how, 20 years ago, waste and wrinkles were distributed differently.
No identification is necessary through these images, they do not constitute an investigation. It is a question of taking part before it’s too late. Fear of God.
The material thrusts of these objects intersect affects and affections, they are incarnations of desire frozen for posterity, or for that which preceded - it is unclear to us what relationships the objects maintain amongst themselves, or according to which temporality their desire is structured: does it follow or precede? contemporary? is it delayed? - and abrasions of a spectral body. The negatives do not count as representations, but as accumulations of forces, inscriptions (whose spectrality is different from that of ink or blood) on the social body.
Benjamin reputed that forces of liberation were inherent within things: «In the commodity fetish, material drives intersect with affect and desire, and Benjamin fantasizes about igniting these compressed forces, to awaken “the slumbering collective from the dream-filled sleep of capitalist production” to tap into these forces. He also thinks that things could speak to one another through these forces. Benjamin's idea of participation - a partly subversive take on early twentieth-century primitivism - claims that are possible to join in this symphony of matter». I needed, therefore, an object that, when appropriately questioned, reveals which desires were at stake, certainly according to its own language.
The negative was "translated" – and through this, the forces compressed within the negative itself – into an image that holds/unfolds a network of social relationships, phobias and obsessions that are more readily accessible to me and eventually readable by virtue of crystallization while I participated in digital life, mine: object amongst objects.
«In the montage, we meet destiny», Godard said, and this montage was delegated to an object amongst others. From a negative to a similar image: however, no darkroom was involved. By feeding Google reverse image search with those scanned “pictures”, and producing very different pictures from those that one would probably expect to see (but what does this "probably" mean? That there was no secret? That, secret or not, it has already been forgotten?), do we encourage devourment and obliteration of the archive even before it has been produced? Is this a death drive?
Hers is a silent work, she is not permitted to raise her head and retaliate, even if she is never at risk of losing her job. We cannot replace what we cannot find; unless we rely on those for whom eyes and hands are unnecessary. The death drive is not, however, a spectrum. It is as more and as less real as this, the walls along which these flow - again: the difference between the rustling and the tracks that are left behind.
Life is not lived the same way as soon as it is no longer archived in the same manner. Did we let it die with this operation? By letting the machine, the other archive, decide on this second/third/fifth archive? If the archive consists of what threatens it, what is the fate of this doubly threatened archive, threatened to the second degree? Fear of God.
Ecology has to do with reviving and, less trivially than one might think, with greening. An inheritance can never be collected, it is not singular: «Its presumed unity, if there is one, can consist only in the injunction to reaffirm by choosing. ‘One must’ means one must filter out a number of different possibilities that inhabit the same injunction». The same habitation is at risk of no longer being possible. One does not pick up a planet from the ground, the secret is made possible, the impossible possible that constitutes it.
In the urgency compelled by the imminent environmental catastrophe, the algorithm has developed (literally, albeit not in the darkroom) these negatives, according to modes of signification that do not have much in common with the Anthropocene.
The end is near, and I need to know from which desires I have been generated, to know to which objects I owe a letter to my father. Fear of God (naked).
 Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, p. 11, Routledge 2006.
 Hito Steyerl, “A Thing Like You and Me” in The Wretched of the Screen, p.55, Sternberg Press, 2012.
 Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, p. 18, Routledge 2006.
subtitles AI & @base.materialism
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