My desire is to exist, therefore I am.

8/21/20233 min read


Collaborations that use the body as an instrument can be regarded as Deleuzian ‘becomings’, with the ‘sterile production of aesthetics’ as the mode of communication. This notion of ‘aesthetic disobedience’ resonates strongly with Christian Metz’s theory of fetishism as a fetish itself. Metz comments that ‘film is more capable of playing on fetishism, photography more capable of itself becoming a fetish’.[1] This relates Hayashi’s work to other notions of creating freedom through some type of human submission to the desire of the medium. The desire of the medium is, in this case, expressed through its restrictive regime, which is its most useful asset to the artist. It reflects Barthes’ notion of the ‘metonymic expansion of the punctum’, meaning that it is the medium itself that offers this collaboration with the human body, not the other way around.[2] Kathrin Yacavone explains: ‘The metonymic ‘power of expansion’ Barthes refers to is a matter of how a perceptual sensation of a tiny part of a larger whole can call to mind that whole in a way in which, in its affective power and spatio-temporal depth, the mental reality evoked far surpasses the initial, seemingly insignificant perceptual trigger.[3]

This process could be seen as a type of feedback loop of medium-specific elements that causes them to destroy themselves. This is what allows Hayashi to create an anthropos-anthropomorphosis (a human becoming a human). The form of expression is a result of contingently obligatory conditions and not of linear causality. The form of expression is thus only determinable after its formation. Or, in the famous words of Dziga Vertov:

"This is I, the machine, maneuvering in the chaotic movements, recording one movement after another in the most complex combinations. Freed from the boundaries of time and space, I coordinate any and all points of the universe, wherever I want them to be. My way leads to the creation of a fresh perception of the world. Thus I explain in a new way the world unknown to you."[4]

In the progression of technical possibilities that modern media offer, the influence of the desire of the medium has only increased. A modern photo camera can produce high definition images that could be printed individually as photographs, but could also be used sequentially to make a film. The outcome is not predefined by the apparatus but by the desire of the medium to exist. In other words, a photograph is a photograph because it desired to be a photograph in order to exist at all. Strangely enough, most contemporary discussions on the convergence of media focus on the a priori conditions, whereas the media themselves do not seem to be bothered by that element at all: my desire is to exist, therefore I am.

Affects are produced in the interplay between bodies, and since bodies reside in various assemblages at all times, affects are not universal. Artists and designers are connected to affective capacities ‘by default’ therefore affect is their essential tool. This knowledge engenders a constant awareness of the assemblages one is part of and explicitly includes the ‘observer’ in the assemblage. Intensive thinking involves the fullest possible spectrum of sensory information, making way for total somaesthetic awareness as well as non-conscious cognition. Hence, every experience reaches us through a multitude of sensory channels, including the non-actualised. This is not the postmodern relativity of truth but the ecological truth of the relative, which makes room for a re-evaluation of our modes of thought vis-à-vis our position within the earth’s ecology. Nothing will change the course of events if the basic ways of thinking remain the same. Therefore the quest is to raise new questions, not to answer the old ones.

[1] See Metz, ‘Photography and Fetish’, in The Photography Reader, pp. 138-145.

[2] See Roland Barthes, Elements of Semiology (New York: Hill and Wang, 1968).

[3] Kathrin Yacavone, Benjamin, Barthes and the Singularity of Photography (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), p. 207.

[4] Dziga Vertov, Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).

Photo-credit: Kirk Boott, photographer. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, no known copyright restrictions.

Title: Boott Cotton Mills, John Street at Merrimack River, Lowell, Middlesex County, Massachusettes, USA, 1968