“Modernity, wherever it appears, does not occur without a shattering of belief without a discovery of the lack of reality in reality-a discovery linked to the intervention of other realities.” J-F Lyotard

Anamnesis, Lyotard Revisited, July, 1983


My recollection of that extended weekend spent with the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard and his family in Fillerval, France, is hazy like the washed out, grainy Super 8 film I used to record our time together. During that summer Lyotard was formulating a prospectus for one of the first electronic exhibitions entitled “Immaterials”.  As chief curator of the exhibition held at the Centre Pompidou (over twenty years ago in March to July 1985), the show was a first attempt to establish a relationship between scientific and artistic modes in light of evolving technology and postmodernism.  Ironically Lyotard was skeptical of the emerging technology of computers.  Concerned that the technology might alter his style of writing, he insisted on writing everything long hand; his wife later typed his manuscripts. He eventually migrated to working on a Mac many years later. It is interesting to note that when Lyotard took his turn at capturing images of my partner and me that weekend, he used the camera as he would have used a pen to write, looping around and round.Lyotard was preoccupied with the idea that reality and representation are “incommensurable”.  That is to say, that a fundamental incompatibility exists between the world and the images or judgments we make, therefore preventing the two from being totally identical. My recollection reflects the gap linked to the incommensurable possibility between reality and its representation.  Through my artistic process of transposing analog celluloid film to digitized pixels, in editing and compositing the sequences, and by juxtaposing the analog world of the writing table with the digitized pixels of this three channel digital video I create a “lack of reality in reality.”  Lyotard and his wife Andreé Lyotard-May divorced years later.  He died in 1992 and she passed away in 2005.

Renate Ferro January 2006

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