MICHAEL C COLDWELL

The Disappearing City
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Michael C Coldwell Failures of Presence photo book essay research Leeds art landscape photography wasteland >>

Michael C Coldwell
FAILURES OF PRESENCE 2017.

 

This book is dedicated to Mark Fisher, a great cultural theorist whose work has had a significant effect on my own, and who sadly passed away earlier this year. For Fisher the eerie could be characterised as a “failure of absence or by a failure of presence”. Something crucial seems to be missing and this disturbs us – the feeling of eeriness comes to us as if from nowhere, out of nothing. Fisher also thought that this perspective could “give access to the forces which govern mundane reality” – in detecting or revealing the eeriness in the banal, we break through the veneer of familiarity which allows them to go unnoticed, and we see these spaces as they really are, as outside of us, as inhumane and somehow alien. One such hidden force is capital, carving up the land and displacing people – these spaces are “the eerie underside of contemporary capital’s mundane gloss”.

People are not the only conspicuous absence in this work. The photograph itself is a failure of presence. It is a trace of reality, but a trace is not a real presence, it is an empty simulation of it. As Derrida put it “the trace is not a presence but is rather the simulacrum of a presence that dislocates, displaces and refers beyond itself” (Derrida, 1973). Photographs of such spaces are therefore ghosts of ghosts – they are hardly here at all. >>NEXT

© 2017 MICHAEL SCHOFIELD