My aim is to re-use the same premise of Loss, absence and presence as a basis for this part of the course.
As a subject I intend to use a found dead yellowhammer as the starting point.
Further reading around the subject led me to Derrida’s essay “What Is Ideology” from Spectres of Marx.
In this particular work he is discussing the ghosts that Marx continually refers to within his work ‘Capital’, i.e. the cultural and historical references that are part of the objects / art forms that we are surrounded by in everyday life. Within this text Derrida uses the word ‘hauntology’ for the first time. The side table to which Derrida refers to here is a reference to Marx’s use of that object as a metaphor within his earlier work:
“The commodity-form, to be sure, is not use-value, we must grant this to Marx and take account of the analytic power this distinction gives us. But if the commodity-form is not, presently, use-value, and even if it is not actually present, it affects in advance the use-value of the wooden table. It affects and bereaves in advance, like the ghost it will become, but this is precisely where haunting begins. And its time, and the untimeliness of its present, of its being “out of joint”. To haunt does not mean to be present, and it is necessary to introduce haunting into the very construction of a concept. Of every concept, beginning with the concepts of being and time. That is what we would be calling here hauntology. Ontology opposes it only in a movement of exorcism. Ontology is a conjuration. (Derrida, 1994.12)
Here, Derrida is questioning Marx’s (and other philosophers) approach to time as a rigid, linear spectrum. He is stating that we / an object / an artwork can be haunted by a future yet to pass as much as by our past. Later on in his writing he clarifies this point further, in regard with the virtual worlds that exist within contemporary life:
“It obliges us more than ever to think the virtualisation of space and time, the possibility of virtual events whose movement and speed prohibit us more and more than ever (more and otherwise than ever, for this is not absolutely and thoroughly new) from opposing presence to its representation, “real time” to “deferred time”, effectivity to its simulacrum, the living to the non-living, in short, the living-dead of its ghosts” (Derrida, 1994.20)
We currently live in a world where it is hard to fathom what is real or unreal- a ghost; this ephemerality is very much a part of our existence today…even more-so in the twenty-first century twenty year after Derrida wrote these words originally.
In his closing words, Derrida concludes that hauntology is pretty much a given, an inescapable truth and ghosts permeate all aspects of our world and times:
“they are always there, spectres, even if they do not exist, even if they are no longer, even if they are not yet. They give us to rethink the “there” as soon as we open our mouths, even at a colloquium and especially when one speaks there in a foreign language” (Derrida, 1994.26)
Considering the yellowhammer which has recently been in decline as a species within the UK, I am also interested in the wider environmental issues relating to the natural world and how mankind can impact upon it.
Research into this area has led to the idea around ‘Deep Ecology’ which was pioneered by the Norweigen philosopher Arne Naess, who believed that the world is in ecological crisis. He developed a theory asking for a fundamental shift in thinking within human civilisation, as the rapid growth of human population and excessive consumption within the western world is unsustainable and negatively affecting other life forms, which we should learn to repect and understand how vital they are for the world to function as a whole. The outlook is bleak:
“Without changes in basic values and practices, we will destroy the diversity and beauty in the world and its ability to support diverse human cultures.” (Drengson s.d.)
Techniques & processes
- Collagraph methods as per course instructions
- Limited subtle / monochrome palette in an attempt to convey a mood and atmosphere of loss / melancholy/ fading.
- Blind embossing – which can be used to demonstrate the idea of absence and material presence.
- Explore use of negative space.
- Continue using text within the work as an important element – linking with literary sources.
- Try using carborundum – which can provide very strong darks and leave a very physical embossed mark on the paper.
Derida, J (1994) What is Ideology from Spectres of Marx [online] At: www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/fr/derrida-what-is-ideology.html Accessed on 20th June 2016.
Drengson, A (s.d.) Some Thought on the Deep Ecology Movement [online] At: www.deepecology.org/deepecology.html Accessed on 20th June 2016.