POLAArizing Ray and the Collapse of Space
POLAArizing Ray is a video montage combining the imaging practices of two different worlds of the 1950s- the Western (POLAA) and the Post-Colonial (Satyajit Ray). It explores the dialectic of visual equivalence and its non-figural abstraction through the lens of image theory developed by Ranciere. Ranciere introduces the concept of “dissemblance” in the image of art that presents a relationship between the visible and the sayable. The famous exhibition, Parallel of Life and Art (1953) was an extraordinary documentation of images of quasi-scientific art. Photographic reproductions of objects, recorded moments, spaces, aspects were exhibited to demonstrate the technical power of a camera-eyed Western artist in the 50s. Reyner Banham, an architectural critic and writer, in his review on the POLAA exhibition, discusses the alienating effect of the camera-technology between photographic and individual experiences. But photography also embraces “imaging the inaccessible (which cannot be seen in normal human vision without the support of technology)” . Visual equivalence in terms of outline or surface texture in the images ranging from ultra-microscopic (low power magnification of squamous celled papilloma micro photo) to extreme-range astronomy (patterns in mud, Grimsby-air view) can be documented through photography. When technology starts to provide imaging culture with an extension in visual range, parallels start to appear in non-parallel origins. For example, equivalence between the surface of a guillemot’s egg and a painting by Jackson Pollock is only visible when photographic reproduction of the egg starts to mimic the scale and proportion of the elements in the painting.
Similarly, both microscopic and aerial photography can offer similar-looking texture, pattern, depth. Alex Kitnick, an art historian and critic, argues, “In such a comparison, spaces collapse”, scale becomes deceiving, wordless immediacy starts to question perceptions, actions, and affects. This project explores the potentiality of expanding the quasi-scientificity of POLAA artifacts to the cultural relativism in the “imageness” (Ranciere) of Satyajit Ray’s (Bengali writer, Filmmaker) film through a process of superimposition and photographic representation to further investigate the idea of collapse. By superimposing POLAA images on the video montage of Ray, followed by photographic reproduction of both, this project investigates how image-informational overlapping starts to challenge the ethnicity of pattern, texture, depth, and/or scale. This project highly relies on Ranciere’s notion of searching for dissemblance in the “transcendent qualities and common properties of the aesthetic of image”
POLAArizing Ray picked one of the Ray’s films Pather Pachali for two reasons. First, POLAA experiences the collapse of space in visually equivalent images that depict elements from extremely dissimilar origins. This project intends to expand the range of such equivalence from the West to the work of a camera-eyed Post-Colonial filmmaker. Second, although, POLAA presents quite an extended range of verity (in terms of imaging tectonics and the topic of imaging), it was primarily dominated by the artifacts that were valued in Western societies of Art. The project intends to explore dissemblace in imaging practices by bringing two contemporary image practices of two different worlds, two different audience together.
Image 1: Visual equivalence in Guillemot’s egg (POLAA) and Jackson Pollock’s painting
POLAArizing Ray picked one of the Ray’s films Pather Pachali for two reasons. First, POLAA experiences the collapse of space in visually equivalent images that depict elements from extremely dissimilar origins. This project intends to expand the range of such equivalence from the West to the work of a camera-eyed Post-Colonial filmmaker. Second, although, POLAA presents quite an extended range of verity (in terms of imaging tectonics and the topic of imaging), it was primarily dominated by the artifacts that were valued in Western societies of Art. The project intends to explore dissemblance in imaging practices by bringing two contemporary image practices of two different worlds, two different audiences together.
While Ranciere is interested in “Adorno’s negative form of representation and his attempts at demystification” and elegant re-articulation of concepts that are already existing, this project explores the analogy of the sayable and the visible in the dialectic of visual equivalence and its non-figural abstraction in a video montage. This montage argues that regardless of the origin, POLAA images involve a new kind of syntactical construction while being interlayered with Ray’s film. Metaphorically or not, such syntactical construction starts to question the pre-existing notion of materializing space in image practice by considering a scaled relationship among the components present in each of the frames of the montage.
 Banham, Reyner. "Parallel of life and art." October (2011): 8-10.
 Kitnick, Alex. "The Brutalism of Life and Art." October (2011): 63-86.
 Rancière, Jacques. The future of the image. London: Verso, 2007.
 Kafala, Ted. "Mundane Hybrids: Rancière Against the Sublime Image: Jacques Rancière (2007) The Future of the Image." (2007): 147-157.
Image 2: Superimposition of POLAA image on Ray’s frame and combination of photographic reproduction of both POLAA image and Ray’s frame.
ARC 642: Architectural Theory as Design Research, Spring 2018, Syracuse School of Architecture
Supervisor: Mark Linder
Published at imageprojects.org