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  • Bridges Of The Unknown:Visual Desires and Small Apocalypses
  • Eron Rauch (bio) and Maranatha Wilson

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[End Page 143]

I can remember one early Sunday morning at an anime convention. I was drunk in a random hotel bathroom, unzipping the oversized zipper of a young woman's vinyl cosplay costume. She looked up from under her wig, smirked, and said, "Now things are getting interesting . . ."

Then her friend walked in, and all I could think was, "Fuck! Why didn't I bring my camera?" In hindsight, I might place this as the satori moment in which I was repurposed from a fan carrying a camera to a producer of art carrying a fandom. But the value of the presentation of this story is based on its ambiguous status as both autobiography and allegory.


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[End Page 144]


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[End Page 145]


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Through this body of images, I am telling a "history" but always wrapped in my own conflicted criticisms.

I choose to work with these inherent conflicts of view because it was only in the disturbingly hard battle to avoid mythologizing or reducing to the banal my personal history of grappling with the process of making art that I found the project.

And for fans, these conventions are their pilgrimage. All across America, nearly every state has a yearly convention of thousands of people packed into the same type of hotels, awake for days, moving through simultaneous moments of lucidity and uncertainty in terms of what exactly they are trying enact. Amid these intensified conditions, my project asks the question, is there even any value in trying to be self-critical? After all, in Rock My Religion, Dan Graham wrote of the history of the [End Page 146] rock subculture: "Taking momentary pleasures to their limit is a way of transcending history and death, and, in a doomed world, is even inevitable.1


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An awareness of one's own desires seems to be the most difficult choice for the critical artist or academic. It seems to be that to experience the "transcendence" of the fan, we must sacrifice history and critical discourse. But can we go on lusting to fuck that girl in the Rikku costume, or that boy looking lost in his Cloud cosplay (or pass on both and buy a new set of DVDs), after the fleeting intrusion of an anxiety about the hidden gravities inherent in our "participation"?


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The choice between knowledge and Eden: that is, a choice between timelessness and chronology. That choice may seem to be cliché, but if these photographs are to address how desire [End Page 147] is built and navigated, they must start at that trailhead. And into this anxiety-ridden dialogue of desire and criticism, the camera's presence becomes an astute embodiment of two major thrusts of conventions:


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A hyperawareness of the split between the heterogeneous masses undulating in complicated current around the localized "I."

The loneliness of knowing the boundaries of the self's presence is continually reflected in the awkwardness of imagining what might be outside of the narrow frames presented.

Photographs of such events of personal/temporal intensity reenact a continual, but sudden, realization of the "I" in the reverie of a masked carnival.

Desire may be born of a waiting-of not having contact, yet anticipating its potential.

Like looking at a photograph, anime conventions are such a dominantly visual affair. "You," separate and looking, is the dominant method of First Contact.

Specifically, visual forms of communication are the most powerful initial sparks that lead to deeper meanings: costumes, signs, haircuts, t-shirts, shoes, poses, gestures, key chains . . . all are ephemera produced by both the fans and the industry that function as signifiers of desire in a sophisticated system called fandom that exert the gravities of depth and identity on the masses. In subtle and overt ways, everyone who chooses to be involved...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2152-6648
Print ISSN
1934-2489
Pages
pp. 143-154
Launched on MUSE
2010-01-29
Open Access
No
Archive Status
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