Performing History/ies with Obsolete Media: The Example of a South African Photo-Film
Abstract: The article addresses the tension between old (analogue) media and new (digital) media usage and their specific materialities by discussing the question of the preserving and re-telling of (subjective and national) history and histories. It analyses Pied Piper’s Voyage (2014), a photo-film of emerging South African artist Lebohang Kganye in the context of the South African photographic and filmic archive. In order to address the question of agentiality and transmission of memory through media this article interrogates the strategies of this piece, using a “hand-made” or analogue aesthetic in a high-definition video, and focuses on how the usage of obsolete media formats resonates both with the artists’ own subjective history and with the (chrono-)politics of representation and in/visibility in South Africa’s transnational history—including the often absent photo and film archive of black South Africans’ lives under apartheid and thus the negotiation of cultural memory in the present. It asks how media technology performs historicity: how can outdated formats invoke or announce pastness? Which different temporalities can they project? What desires and “atmospheres” may they create by staging or presenting “auratic” qualities?