REVIEWS

ROBERT HUTINSKI - BRAVE NEW WORLD / MELANCHOLIA


In order to read, understand and decode the series of photographs made by Robert Hutinski and entitled Brave New World/Melancholia we must start on the beginning, which is its title.
The author is clearly saying that we as spectators of his series sooner or later need to cope with two words: brave and new. These two words are also key termsin psychoanalysis: on the one hand, ego always lacks courage; on the other hand, what is new represents an experience which he gains in the course of analysis. With other words: every person using pronoun Me is already in a position to suture the symbolic world in new and sometimes even radically new way. But ego is unable to do this due to lack of bravery; only the subject is able to do it.
The series of Robert Hutinski is already interesting from the described point of view and it should not come as a surprise if a spectator suddenly find out that he is unable to attribute it a special meaning. Namely, he is confronted with an analytical question: What in a series acts in a way that we can talk about progress or development? Can we really talk about progress? And why we need to talk of something like that?
The function of the subject is in any case decisive, therefore both words (bravery and new) are very important. At this point we would like to emphasize that the function of the subject is radically different from the function of ego or self, because the subject who is not reducible to any psychological entity doesn't produce fiction and it is not capable for any ideological praxis, and that is by all means amazing.
At the same time, melancholia connects us with what is all egedly once existed, but the emphasisison the assumption; in psychoanalysis we would say that this is a part of phantasmagorical scenario for which the ego is capable. Lars von Trier, of course, completes the network of connections with his movie Melancholia (2011) and he adds to our returning to the past real ideas about near future of the world we are living in.
In order to understand the new it is best to read a book about the nature of the new, because photographs – especially digital photographs – are new medium. One of the recent best books about the new media was written by Lev Manovich. Author is, in his now already famous discussion about new media (The Language of New Media, 2001), exposing some principles which we will use in our analysis of the series of photographs by Robert Hutinski. First, let us look at the principles outlined by Manovich.
Numerical representation. This principle is nothing else but the basic idea of modern digital media contents which cannot be created without mathematical algorithms. Because of them the media contents are describable by mathematics and at the same time we can manipulate them because they are represented by numbers. Hence, we can change photographs almost as we wish using mathematical algorithms and computer programs respectively.
The second principle exposed by Manovich is this: modularity. Author says that we can also name this principle fractal structure of new media. Media elements are namely independent modules and we can combine them without losing their identities.
The third principle is automation. By using numerical coding we can create media contents almost arbitrarily and without asking what is the author traying to say or announce; the author is literarily not important. With simple algorithms such contents can be created even by computers without the outside assistance of human beings.
The fourth principle is variability. Media contents have become variable, hence they are not static or fixed, given once and for all times – and they don't mirror objective reality. We can transmit these contents to various fields and link them together in almost endless ways. The logic of new media, says Manovich, is thus accommodated to the requests or desires of users and it is able to transform itself at any time.
The next principle of media contents is called transcoding. Today these contents are made of various layers, which are very different from each other. We call them cultural layers and computer layers. Cultural layers are narrative, computer layers are represented by computer languages and databases.
Robert Hutinski is moving to the border of unusual, rare photographs and skillful film editing. His series actually form new media contents, which are characterized by cinegratophraphy, new temporality, as Manovich calls it, narrativity, which creates loopsand is the loop effect, the spatialor territorial editing, creation of information space sand coding.
Now we have enough conceptual and theoretical tools for reading and understanding of the series on which we are discussing.
BraveNew World caninitiallybe seen as brave new world, which we naturally connect with the famous book of Aldous Huxley, written in 1931. I do not know if Robert, when he was taking the photographs, thought on his book, but certainly it is no coincidence that the address of the Huxley’s book is in a direct connection to what Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest. In the new world new people are living; new people create beautiful or brave new world in which they enter into new mutual relationships. So they should not beassessed with the old eyes, but with the new. And for that we need yet another analytical concept, which is the concept of future.
Therefore,what we see when we are looking at the series by Robert Hutinski? First,we certainly recognize the elements which we have been encounteredas children: green grass, brightsunin the blue sky, hardworking people, who don’t fall, due to their appearance, neither to nature neither to farm. Discontent occurs, the split is obvious; the world has changed, people have changed, and relations between them have also changed.
It also appears discontent in the culture, of which Freud was talking, when he wrote in 1930 the famous debateen titled Das Unbehagenin der Kultur. Discontent is not relative, but is structurally and logically necessary for every human being. Apparently Robert is well aware of this, so his protagonists do not fit any stereotype and they’re certainly not expressing satisfaction over the world in which they’ve found themselves. It is true that all of them are young, but this fact I understand as irony, because today there is this imperative that the man must at least look young, if he or she is not actually young.
Robert’s awareness of the world and its transformation, which usually takes place before our eyes, also means that the current perception of reality is quite different, as it was for example in the time when movies occurred for the first time. About a hundred years ago, the movie industry started to create convincing illusions of reality, which has been constantly changing since then, and this is by no means trivial, as will be seen later in the course of this thinking.
Today everything is essentially different, as we reading Robert's series: the people are split, and very unsure of their identities, which are subordinate to the principles of encoding, designing and redesigning, and they are also aware of that, nostalgia is virtually impossible, photos of possible ancestors on the wall are from another world, where representations and ideas of human reality, people and their mutual relationswere completely different.
From Robert's series emerges a spirit of (new) modern world, which can be digitized and modulated, and at the same time it can also be manipulated. This is also the spirit of digital film, simulated realities and their elements, impersonal designing, coding and transcoding, which means that the protagonists of the drama are something quite different, as we believe at first glance, and we are not able to establish whether they belong to the same family or they just coincidentally came together for a short time. Series of photographs is therefore closest to what is called a digital movie which usesscenes or shots, but these are only one element among other elements, which can be read and combined in different new ways–it all depends on the user and his requirements.
One frame in the series is empty; it could be a shot, it may be a representation of what is calledin psychoanalysis a lack. Precisely of this element a jigsaw is possible, shots are possible and the editing (of a movie) is also possible. Or, as Jacques Lacan used to say (1973): Cequimanque à la véritépour être dite.
Outside venue (field, meadow) therefore replaces the new venue, the room, and there is always different picture or photograph on the wall; these pictures are from another, earlier time, and the protagonists hold them in the hands–as if they were urns. The question a rises, what are they doing in the room, because it is obvious that they don’t belong to the meadow. Are they nostalgic, are they mourning for some reason?
We can say for sure that they fit in the brave new world of simulations of reality, digitization and creation of simulacra, as Jean Baudrillard would say, when he was thinking of the perfect crime that has occurred over the reality. Today, his statements should not be without effect, because in this world we can easily find out that there is something missing, that there something literallyis not (any longer). Jacques-Alain Millerhad already devoted a lot of time to this topic.
This something is the abilityof human beings to suture the field of signifiers, the ability to literally createa coherent symbolic reality, which they also need for their survival. Due to the specific decay of reality, which is reflecting in the books of Baudrillard, today many people have problems with it, because their identities are also collapsing, while we don’t even need to talk about their relationships; it is clear on the photographs that the protagonists do not for many relationship, that they don’t enter into relationships and that they simply do not apply.
Suture is a relationship, says Miller, a very special relationship that a man can have as subject to the chain of signifiers. She can have it, but at the same time she must have it, otherwise she doesn’t exist at all. Robert's photographs are so also about non existence, non relationships, non humans.
Series of photographs by Robert, which is broken ina very special place by blank shot, is unusual because this shot is not outside of the series, but it is there, right in the middle, and it is very obvious. It’s not missing and this is not a coincidence. It s unusual appearance is extremely important and it brings hope; if it is not there, in some sense everything is over. As I said at the beginning of this review, this is a series of photographs necessarily committed to a logic of identity, for which every self oregospontaneously believes that it is always already at work.
The reality is quite different, so the ego is wrong, and we should not trust him when he states that the reality before his eyes is just the wayhe believes it is.In fact,he does not know why he believes that the reality is such as he claims to be.
At first, we therefore strongly believe that there are things in our world identical to themselves and that they always already (at least virtually, if not otherwise) are exactly as we believe them to be. To people inRobert's series we can therefore attribute identities and wonder who they are, what relationships are they entering, and where they belong. In the same way we can be wondering what each photo represents, what their truth is, and what they are talking about. We can also ask ourselves and argue about their meaning, saying that everyone has a different perspective and different view–boredom.
Individual identity or unit can be attributed the number 1. So says the conventional logic. And adds that we also need the number 0, because otherwise we do not move any where and the logical dimension of the world is simply not possible.
By the number 0 we thorough lyentangle the matter which therefore ceases to be boring, since the number zero indicates non identity. So we need a new concept, says Jacques-Alain Miller: the concept of what is not identical with it self. This concept of course includes the object. Which object? None!
Series by Robert Hutinski has therefore a blank shot, which I have already spoken of; because of that this series is an exception – it is also interesting and really different from other series, which are more or less accustomed. Empty scene represents the transition from zero or lack to number zero, which allows conceptualization of that, which is not possible to be conceptualized, as pointed out by Miller. Affairs are no longer boring.
Zero is non-real thing inside the mind, inside each symbolic field. Robert's photographs create, due to empty shot,a series that can be sutured in various ways. Hence, the viewer has no spontaneous feeling that the photos follow each other in plain or obvious order; he has no feeling that the photos communicate anything to him, that they tell a story or mean anything. But he is not upset-rather the opposite.
Indeed, the opposite is true: the viewer himself must suture the series and create meaning. Suturing is a logical operation, for which a subject (not ego) is capable, which means that she creates always new (other) relations to the signifying chains. And her attitude is exactly determined: she is excluded from the chains. Or in other words: the subject establishes relationships to the Big Other within the field of the Other, who is also a field or place of truth, but she is never totally pulled in.
The subject's relationship to the Other cannot be included in any definition of objectivity; it is Lacan's record, which acts as an axiom. From all the above we learn something particular: the definition of the subject and her relationship to the Other provides at least one new signifier, and that is the reason why the world is not fixed, and the same also apply for the objects within it.
This simply means two things: that the subject is always already before the signifiers and that they are also before the subject. Or in other words: the subject is always trapped in the double logic of time. One is linear,the second round. The subject observes the world and believes that it is always already there, while she constitutes it and recognizes it only retrospectively, which of course means that the world just does not exist.
The subject is therefore operational in the world retroactively, while she must suture the field of signifiers because without that operation there is no world, that would be affected, that would even exist. The subject is therefore both: an effect of suture and its cause, the effect of signifiers, while they represent her.
Robert's photographs therefore –strictly speaking –do not form any series. This will always be created by suturing, while the subject, who is responsible for it, will retroactively tell the stories which she herself has created. And it is always possible to tell the stories, and that is the reason why Robert's series (not just this one), are so good.

 

Dušan Rutar