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Memories of the Future

On Countervision

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Edited By Stephen Wilson and Deborah Jaffé

What is a memory of the future? Is it a myth, a fiction of a severed arm, a post-human debate or a broken time machine? In an increasingly insecure future-world there is an urgency to consider and debate these questions. Memories of the Future: On Countervision addresses these concerns by speculating on the connections between memory and futurity in fields such as counter-histories, women’s studies, science fiction, art and design, technology, philosophy and politics. This book reveals how these subjects regenerate at the intersections of vision, counter-cultural production and the former present. The volume links the re-imaginings of memory into the present with topics such as the fever dream allegory of the adolescent social experience, soft technologies of future dress, reinventions of monetary exchange, rekindled subjectivities of school days, and technics and human progression. These countervisions argue against the homogenizing status quo of the present in order to challenge the customs, traditions and conventions of the past and propositions of the future.

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5 Mirror: Time Will Darken Paper (Penny McCarthy)

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PENNY MCCARTHY

5   Mirror: Time Will Darken Paper

I

I often think of a painting by Thomas Eakins (c.1892) of a woman on a balcony waving a white handkerchief. The little oil painting, a sketched record of a fleeting gesture of goodbye is on the reverse of another picture. I’ve only seen it in reproduction, a black-and-white image that looks like it has been through the photocopier a few times. Albert Camus observed the ‘slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened’.1 In Austerlitz (2001), W. G. Sebald wrote of the sharpening of visual memory that takes place in contrast to our temporal distance from events. ‘Our concern with history’, Austerlitz says, quoting his schoolmaster, ‘is a concern with pre-formed images already imprinted on our brains, images at which we keep staring while the truth lies elsewhere, away from it all, somewhere as yet undiscovered.’2 It is often only in the task of reporting on the past that images align themselves to allow patterns to emerge.

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