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Experiments in Aesthetics and Politics

Image Associations: In response to Rachel Garfield’s Introduction to “Experimental Filmmaking and Punk: Feminist Audio Visual Culture in the 1970s and 1980s”

Published on: May 7, 2023
By: Amy Poncher

Image Associations

This piece uses Rachel Garfield’s Introduction to Experimental Filmmaking and Punk: Feminist Audio Visual Culture in the 1970s and 1980s to explore the exercise of image associations in the work of British artist, Ed Fornieles. 

definition: IMAGE ASSOCIATIONS

Ed Fornieles. Dinosaurs & Strange Creatures with Mr. Know-it-Owl, 2021
Large format inkjet print on semi gloss photographic paper, mount board with multi aperture windows
18.5 x 93.5 x 4 cm

 

GARFIELD AND IMAGE ASSOCIATIONS

The following takes Garfield’s focus on DIY, lo-fi filmmaking and puts it towards  contemporary (mass and art-based) uses of images 

Garfield’s text relates various post-war experimental feminist and punk filmmakers to the early 20th Century art movement, Dada:

 

“The re-emergence of an approach from Dada identified at the time as a close precursor to punk could be seen as the same event or entity that nonetheless is transformed in a new context of a different period or epoch.” (Garfield) 

 

Hannah Höch, Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany, collage, mixed media, 1919–1920 (Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin)

Example of Kuleshov’s use of montage (known as the Kuleshov effect where more meaning is derived from two sequential shots than one shot in isolation):

^ while the first image remains the same, combining a differing second image creates [forces] different mental associations for the viewer 

^ This approach differs from Fornieles’ contemporary Associations series, in which the image and its following images are read in relation to the subject’s (Fornieles?) own associations

This can be shown in the diagram variants (my own) below:

 

 

^ A distinction can be seen between the roles of director / artist / subject / object and viewer within film montage and association 

 

IMAGE ASSOCIATION AS DIY AND LO-FI 

-> The image association system is itself a DIY, lo-fi method for both exploring the larger contextual climates of visual culture today (understood in mass culture through endless image streams) and the particulars of simultaneously individual, paired, triad and larger image connections. What is meant by the latter is that while the image association places importance on the contents and choice of an individual image, the connection between each image, its following image, that following image’s relation to its own following image and the overarching relation between all of the images is of course equally relevant.

The below diagram (my own) demonstrates this system:

Ed Fornieles. Ghostfinger, 2021
Large format inkjet print on semi gloss photographic paper, mount board with multi aperture windows
18.5 x 69 x 4 cm

^ The diagram shows the potential origin and end points for image association series. You can see a ‘no association edge’ where the first chosen image begins. Subsequent connections form between each image until the end image is reached and a ‘no association edge’ appears again. Encircling all of the images is a ‘continued association’ frame made up of already formed contextual, psychological and societal associations. The diagram exposes the paradoxical nature of the image association technique – while a clear edge (first image) can be visually presented, it is impossible to read any of the origin images in complete isolation or the end images as final.

Also, compare early film experimentation with motion and time:

Muybridge. Plate 163, with keywords “Male, Jumping; standing broad jump (shoes),” model is Percy C. Madeira (1862-1942). The black and white grids used to track movement are visible on the top two panels. (Image: University of Pennsylvania Archives).

 

^ Image series shows ‘capture’ potential of photography. Motion is frozen. “Space in between” is muted but present

Compare with Hollis Frampton’s 1969 film, Lemon, showing the slow movement of light over a single object:

^ use of light, time and object is both predictable and illusory 

Potential origin points for linear work (arrows my own):

Ed Fornieles. Dinosaurs & Strange Creatures with Mr. Know-it-Owl, 2021
Large format inkjet print on semi gloss photographic paper, mount board with multi aperture windows
18.5 x 93.5 x 4 cm

 

Ed Fornieles. Man Eating Pumpkins? Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin Theory, 2021
Large format inkjet print on semi gloss photographic paper, mount board with multi aperture windows
53 x 62.5 x 4 cm

^ Example of ‘looped’ associations series 

 

Ed Fornieles, The Loop, 2021
Large format inkjet print on matte photographic paper mounted on aluminum
41 x 30.5 cm

 

Looped-Stage Capitalism

Garfield situates the 1970s punk filmmakers within a disillusioned state and “disenfranchised world” (Garfield) e.g. shrinking social care in Britain: 

“The claim from the No Wavers was that of the end of belief in the project of social mobility and its corollary of art as an edifying and transformative cipher.” (Garfield)

-> failures of the Left (France 1970s), successes of the Right (rise of Neoliberalism 1980s; deregulation (Thatcherite Britain; Reagan’s America)) —> no hope 

 

->  ‘Late-Stage Capitalism’ – ‘zombie-ing’ effects of images and social media (technology)

 

-> irony of phrase suggesting linear trajectory of Capitalism in its ‘later’ stage as opposed to continuously enveloping political, social, labour worlds, etc.

– > 2009 Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism 

 

Displays & Circulation of Ed Fornieles’ Associations

As such, the grid has done its job with striking efficiency. The barrier it has lowered between the arts of vision and those of language has been almost totally successful in walling the visual arts into a realm of exclusive visuality and defending them against the intrusion of speech. 

– Rosalind Krauss, Grids (1979)


See Rosalind Krauss’s 1979 essay,
Grids, in relation to Modernism’s use of the grid as simultaneously functioning as pure materiality and myth: 

https://culturescontexts.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/krauss-grids.pdf 

 

Ed Fornieles, Associations, 2021, Installation View. Carlos/Ishikawa, London. 

Associations, 2021, @eddfornieles Instagram. 04/06/21

^^^ Note that above we can see two separate presentations of Fornieles’ Associations series:

Associations – Instagram carousel post from Fornieles’ account: 

Associations scrolling post @eddfornieles Instagram. 04/11/21. 

 

Linguistic Breakdown
REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE / PHOTO (REAL) / DIRECTION: RIGHT -> 2. PUPPET (REAL/UNREAL) / FACIAL EXPRESSION / PHOTO (REAL) / DIRECTION: FRONT -> 3. CARTOON (UNREAL) / FACIAL EXPRESSION / THE SCREAM (CULTURAL ASSOCIATION) [REFERENCE MERGE DIGITAL IMAGE: ART (MUNCH) / POP CULTURE (SIMPSONS) / DIRECTION: FRONT; RIGHT -> 4. DIGITAL IMAGE (UNREAL) / FACIAL EXPRESSION / THE SCREAM (CULTURAL ASSOCIATION) [REFERENCE MERGE: ART (MUNCH) / POP CULTURE (WOLVERINE) / DIRECTION: FRONT -> 5. PHOTO / DIGITAL IMAGE (REAL / UNREAL) / POP CULTURE (WOLVERINE) / DIRECTION: FRONT; RIGHT -> 6. PRODUCT (REAL; MATERIAL) / SOFTWARE (UNREAL;IMMATERIAL) / IMAGE/TEXT ASSOCIATION: “X-MEN” / MASS CULTURE (APPLE) / DIRECTION: RIGHT -> 7. IMAGE ISOLATION / RENDER (UNREAL) / MASS CULTURE (LOGO; REAL) / DIRECTION: FRONT/RIGHT -> 8. APPLE (REAL) / MOUTH (REAL/UNREAL) [MERGE] / FACIAL EXPRESSION / DIRECTION: RIGHT -> 9. CARTOON (UNREAL) / FACIAL EXPRESSION / DIRECTION: FRONT

 

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