- An interview on image theory and visual culture with Anne Helmreich of the Art History Department at Case Western Reserve University from November of 2007.
In the months before September 11, 2001, the cloning debate was the leading issue in American newspapers. After September 11, terrorism dominated the news. This paper explores the logic that connects cloning and terrorism as the twin phobias of our historical epoch. The clone and the terrorist are cultural icons linked by the fear of the “uncanny double,” the mirror image of the self as its own worst enemy. The terrorist is the enemy who doubles as a friend or countryman, pretending to be “one of us.” The clone is the figure of biological doubling as such, the inverted, perverted mirror image of a parent organism, an artificial simulation or twin of a natural person. The terrorist is the “evil twin” of the normal, respectable citizen-soldier, and the clone is the “evil twin” as such. The “war on terror” therefore is also a “war of images” that draws its vocabulary from the language of epidemiology, of plagues, sleeper cells, and viruses, on the one hand, and from iconoclasm, iconophobia, and holy wars over images on the other. Tracing the “war of images” in mass media and popular culture from the cloned Schwarzenegger of The Sixth Day to the clone armies of George Lucas, from the destruction of the World Trade Center to the Abu Ghraib torture photographs, this paper explains why the war on terror is actually “cloning terror” by breeding more terrorists. This lecture was given for the Iconic Turn Lecture Series, Burda Academy of the Third Millennium (3.12.2004, 19:00 Uhr Audimax, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München).
Lecture given at the “Image Wars and Image Floods” symposium, which addressed the themes of the ZKM exhibition Iconoclash, which presented the conflicts surrounding images both in historical situations and in the contemporary world. In particular, image questions that play or have played a crucial role in the three areas of religion, art and present-day natural science were presented by the invited experts and jointly discussed. One thing that clearly emerged was that these days the image issue needs to be localized in an interdisciplinary context. The symposium was organized by the Centre for Art and Media Technology (ZKM), Karlsruhe, and the State College of Design (HfG), Karlsruhe, and took place from 12 – 13 July 2002 in Karlsruhe, Germany.
This paper explores the migration of three categories of uncanny “image-objects,” totems, fetishes, and idols, in relation to the stages of imperialism and colonialism (conquest, mercantile exchange, administrative dominance, and globalized capital “flows”). The aim is to show how these categories are rooted in imperial “objectivities” constructed around “secondary beliefs”– i.e., beliefs about the beliefs of other people. My aim is also to show how these categories of objecthood “come home” and take on a second life in the aesthetic ideologies of empire, especially the category of the aesthetic object as such.
W. J. T. Mitchell, after Dr. Brian Oblivion (coming soon…)
The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.