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Anthony Auerbach

‘Relations of Representation’, seminars by Anthony Auerbach in: International Summer School for Art Curators: Post Socialism and Media Transformations: Strategies of Representation, organised by Nazareth Karoyan and Angela Harutyunyan, 21 July–1 August 2008, Yerevan, Armenia

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Fieldwork: The High Ground
Field work for the first week of the summer school will be a survey of a part of the city of Yerevan. A ridge of higher ground overlooking the centre of the city sustains a variety of representative and representational functions, including: a public park, a fun fair, various monuments and memorials, public sculpture, private museums etc.

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I would like you to devise a plan collectively for a survey of the area (a circle of radius about 600m centred on the place marked on the aerial photo) which includes the Cascade monument and Victory Park. The point is to locate and describe the various forms of representation which can be found in this area. You will discuss which criteria you will use to identify them and differentiate them. You will decide which means you will use to record your findings. You will recruit local knowledge to supplement visual and material observations (some objects might be hidden, some representations might be obsolete, some traces may remain, some traces may have been erased). You will need to divide the work and will be aware of the need to co-ordinate and double check. You may wish to compare observations at different times of day or night. Your aim is to display your results collectively in the form of an inventory (organised in some way) and a map which could be used to locate your findings and demonstrate the spatial relations between various objects and may also reflect patterns of ownership, occupation and surveillance.

I look forward to discussing your findings as part of our seminar series on 'relations of representation' in the second week.

Below is some literature I think is interesting in this context. It would be great if you have time to look these up.

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991)
First published in 1974 in French, this is an increasingly influential theoretical text on the intertwining of ideologies and spaces, abstractions and urban conditions. (See pp. 33–46 where Lefebvre introduces a 'conceptual triad' which sets out the themes of the book: spatial practice, representations of space, representational spaces.)

Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990)
This book opens an investigation of the receptivity to visual phenomena, devices and entertainments in relation to technology and mass-consumption in the nineteenth century. You may disagree with the author's claims concerning modern art. (See chapter 4, 'Techniques of the Observer', pp. 97–136)

Sean Cubitt, Timeshift: on video culture (London: Routledge,1991)
Important contribution to the underdeveloped field of video theory.
(See chapter 1, 'The Discontinuity Announcer', p. 1–20)

Mark Andrejevic, Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003)
This book explores reality TV as a case study in the politics of the 'digital enclosure', i.e. the rationalisation of liesure time for capitalist production, using an interesting range of theoretical lights.
(See chapter 6, 'It's All About the Experience', pp. 143–172)

Vardan Azatyan, ‘On Video in Armenia: Avant-garde and/in Urban Conditions
Read it online. Reflections prompted by the workshop Video as Urban Condition at ACCEA, Yerevan, 2006. See also my contribution to the event Who is Big Brother? and feel free to browse the Video as Urban Condition website, wher e there are several interesting texts and transcripts.

Seminars: Monday 28 July–Friday 1 August 2008
The seminars will begin with a debriefing on the fieldwork carried out in the first week. The reading list will give you a hint at the theoritical territory I would like to explore, although you will not get a series of lectures on these authors. I would like to allow the discussion to develop and swerve a little if necessary. I will also introduce some material obliquely. I have invited Vardan Azatyan and Angela Harutyunyan to join us on Friday for discussion of contemporary video art practice.

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