Accepted Paper:

Failure and Redemption in the public eye: a critical look at the language of undesired televisual political performance  
Toma Peiu (University of Colorado Boulder)

Paper short abstract:

A paper and talk discussing the ramifications and complications of a collaborative research-creation project juxtaposing re-appropriated broadcast performances of admissions of failure, concession, guilt or shame in public mediated space.

Paper long abstract:

Failure is Human. Human is Failure. is an archival-based audiovisual creative project I started developing in the Fall of 2017, in collaboration with filmmaker Luiza Parvu. It consists of a video installation titled Redemption Room; a 10-minute short film called "The Decision" and a collection of short clips titled "Gestures".

In this presentation of a companion paper, I propose a critical look at the ritual surrounding failure in the public virtual space of broadcast television.

These rituals are enacted using performance, or decorum tropes - the tone of voice, the gaze, the costume; tropes of language including references to the myth of the nation state, dominant religion and democracy; and tropes of staging - the Presidential Hall, the podium / desk, the slow zoom-in / zoom-out between the medium close shot and the close-up of the speaker. This mixture is evidence of the permeability between the embodiment of political power, redemptive memory and the methods of performing arts.

Turning the mirror around, we will be considering what may be learned from looking at failure creatively? What are the pitfalls of working with archival material, in anthropology and visual art? What are some difficulties that we need to overcome in order to get behind the smokescreen of broadcast language; and, in our methods, behind the concepts and notions that inform our initial research?

I will be discussing the theoretical challenges of articulating an archive of failure, by comparing examples ranging from Plato's Socratic Dialogues to Laura Mulvey's visual pleasure, Walter Benjamin's aura, Roland Barthes' punktum, Nietzsche's will to power and Alexander Galloway's interface.

Panel P018
Notions of Failure in Art and Anthropology