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Strange Shadows/Marred Screens

Strange Shadows/Marred Screens

(p.139) 10 Strange Shadows/Marred Screens
Ribbon of Darkness
Barbara Maria Stafford
University of Chicago Press

William Kentridge’s virtuoso use of textured image supports in his dense macabre silhouettes doubly shocks: first, because thickness disturbs our conditioned expectations of lightness and, second, because it acknowledges a material realm beyond the human. Kentridge’s multifaceted video projections serve as an introduction to other marred surfaces from other times, before the advent of thin monitors and flawless smart-device displays. This essay then shifts from analyzing such sculptural supports to considering the ultimate enfleshed screen. Historically, the body incarnate found its ideal embodiment in porcelain female skin. Yet it, too, could not evade the stamp of mortality, the stealthy imprint of original sin. This blotching birthmark, minutely analysed in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s twice-told tale, becomes the overt sign of human carnality in the fatal stigmata of AIDS. Allusively captured in Daniel Goldstein’s Icarian Series, the scars and sores of San Francisco’s gay men emerge, pressed into the leatherwork bench covers of the gyms they frequented. Bringing our existential realities in alignment with the contemporary desire to erase physical flaws, this essay reflects on the emerging use of Bio-and Neuro-Markers, gene editing, CRISPR technology, and recombinant plastic surgery.

Keywords:   AIDS, Bio-Ethics, Bio-and Neuro-Markers, Birth Mark, Daniel Goldstein, Gene-Editing, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thickness, Video Projection, William Kentridge

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