Ελένη Ζυμαράκη

Interviews

Ex_pose: Luminous Flux, Syros island, 07 – 08/2015

Campus Novel, Luminous Flux / Reflected overlays on locative norms

The year 1914 marks the beginning of a series of conferences, which set for the first time on an international level the regulations for the safety of the human life at sea (SOLAS)[1]. Growing ship traffic and the end of World War II, followed by a humanitarian vision of global development based on free movement and safety, created the need for an international signal code. Among the tasks of the said conferences was the official mapping of the lighthouse network and also the adoption of an international language protocol. With the occasion of the third conference in 1984, avant-garde filmmaker Jean Epstein was commissioned by the United Nations[2] the production of a documentary on lighthouses. Les Feux de la Mer (The Lights that never fail) was a film of informative and educative purpose and character and was later regarded as mere propaganda.


The study of mechanisms linked with terms such as safety, free movement, responsibility, control and discipline activates, since the end of the 19th century, a model of thinking which led to the emersion of particular cognitive fields, such as biopolitics, ethnography, geopolitics, social anthropology and media philosophy. Nowadays, this rhizomatic development may be perceived as a constant flux sustained by web technologies or as a de-materialization process bringing forth new issues, which concern the rules and regulations governing networks and nodal structures.
Luminous Flux is not an archaeological approach towards lighthouses and lighthouse networks. Its main interest focuses on the study of a quasi-obliterate/ quasi-oriented system[3] of specific topology and on an attempt to examine this system against the internet paradigm. The production of speech or, more accurately, of multiple functional speeches against strong bipolar codifications –centre-periphery, global-local, communication-obstruction, participation-self-referentiality– schematically and semantically emerges in the form of a network between adjacent positions[4]. The notion of the finite is used here as a means of conciliation with a presentness, activating a wider discourse on localizations, associations and attempted dislocations. This retrospective juxtaposition, irrelevant in traditional societies, is only justified in a post-modern condition looking back on past opportunities that were never fulfilled.
The lighthouse is a landmark which delivers a repelling discourse in the form of a luminous emission. This emission is produced on the basis of a specific convention, a code or a language. The protocol setting the code for each lighthouse governs an inter-nodal communication between lighthouses. Just as in a rhizomatic structure, the nodes of a decentralised network are capable of directly communicating with each other without any kind of mediation or hierarchy. A common protocol is a prerequisite for this kind of communication. Such common protocols determine a network topology[5]. A lighthouse is responsible for the sort of discourse it emits in its particular district, just like a nodal user of a distributed network. Responsibility issues are related to speed and efficiency issues concerning centralised and decentralised networks, but also to one question: Who gets connected to whom. A contemporary approach to the notion of responsibility arises along a wide new approach towards politics and ethics: I am responsible for something in which I am not directly involved. In the devised setting of the project in question, one of the basic parameters is summarized in the appropriation of the language of the lighthouse and the re-disrtibution of roles between a lighthouse-capacitor a guard-user.
In an anthropological view of space, architecture is a means to delineate the fear for the other, the unknown or the unpredictable. According to this approach, a lighthouse is a structure with the authority to control passages, to impose exclusions and allow crossings. It is a threshold to a territory, to a landscape partly revealed by a rhythmic emission. Evolving from a network of occasional lights only lit in cases of emergency to an organised, built network gradually consolidated an architectural typology combining function with residency. A current valuation, which registers lighthouses in the field of industrial archeology, is reinforced by their structural characteristics. The development of verticality and ascent, the staircase and the dome are elements connecting to the transcendental and the divine. The monumental rendering of the lighthouse is thus based on a paradox –sheltering a technological device in a shell with pre-modernist archetypal structure.
Collective imagery, as represented in literature and cinema, has lighthouses connected with isolation. In reality, however, lighthouses were strongly linked with the everyday life of nearby communities. It is even said that people used to take advantage of the light in order to do farm work during night time. The perpetual light emission has always been for these communities a rhythmic token of regularity, safety and succession.
The lighthouse on the island Didimi or Gaidouronisi near the port of Ermoupolis, Syros is the first one to be built by the Modern Greek state. It is the oldest and tallest building in the Greek lighthouse network. Built in 1834 for the first year of the reign of king Othon, it was a royal commission to the French lighthouse company and the Bavarian architect, Johan Erlacher. The lighthouse has been part of the Greek lighthouse network since the Balkan wars and part of it was destroyed during the Second World War. It was restored in 1948 and has operated ever since with a white emission every two minutes. This is the first lighthouse in the Aegean to have a rotating mechanism and also one of the rarest Greek types with the residency on the ground floor. Its size and range fed collective narratives, which had its lighting seen all the way to Smyrna.
The lighthouse network is chosen as a field of allusions for the particularity of the landscape in which it expands: the sea is ever elusive and can only be approached and counted through diagrams, maps and other representational practices. The ground, on the other hand is a consistent space and could therefore serve as a better, safer starting point for a discussion on sites, connectivity and developing relations. However, a network involving a fluctuant landscape experience is definitely more apt to be involved in a dialogue with the hypertextual, unstable, virtual model of the internet. Furthermore, the archipelagic structure serves this working hypothesis with another model for a global scene of social networks, GPS navigation, satellite transmissions, metadata accumulations, mobile telecommunications and portable computers.
The holistic approach of Luminous Flux is an operational practice which allows correlations between ambiguous, up to date notions, such as commons, liberty and communication, as some of the aspects of a neoliberal model with systemic, rhizomatic structures. The planning of this venture aims at the creation of a micro-network of people, who meet in the circumstances of a workshop, setting thus the framework for an open debate on several semiotic aspects of the phenomenon of networking. The structure of the workshop involves the exchange of discourses and viewpoints, it gathers diverse circumstances and suspends any established certainties, as indicated by the subtitular phrase Reflected overlays on locative norms. The workshop includes interdisciplinary lectures and contributions, open screenings and round tables, interactions of practices. A comparative study of systems, in a semiotic approach dealing with the cultural experience as a spatial metalanguage[6]ocuses in a documentative process. The material outcome of this process will be presented in a concluding expository event.

[1] Safety Of Life At Sea
[2] Department of Public Information/ Films and Visual Information division
[3] Michel Serres, Theorie du quasi objet, Le Parasite, Athens, Smili, 2009.
[4] Rosalind Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Myths, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, The MIT Press, 1986.
[5] Networks, Documents of Contemporary Art, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, Whitechapel Gallery and The MIT Press, 2014.
[6] Yuri Lotman, La Structure du text artistique, Gallimard, Paris, 1973.

Interview with Campus Novel in Greek for Ex_pose:

http://www.artsandthecity.gr/article/Ex_pose:-Sunenteuxi-me-tous-dimiourgous-tou-project-%22Luminous-Flux—Reflected-overlays-on-locative-norms%22/20098/

Luminous Flux, http://luminousflux-campusnovel.blogspot.gr

Campus Novel, http://campusnovel.blogspot.gr

 

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