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Views From Nowhere

Views From Nowhere
Views From Nowhere
Hon, Gordon
Hon, Gordon

Hon, Gordon (2006) Views From Nowhere.

Record type: Art Design Item

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Accepted/In Press date: 2006
Additional Information: This exhibition was curated by Gordon Hon in response to the conference, Media in the Enlarged Europe: An International Conference on Policy, Industry, Aesthetics & Creativity Hosted by the School of Media, Art & Design at the University of Luton. In order to collect the images for this exhibition a group was set up on the internet photo-sharing community Flickr. Anybody living in Europe was asked to upload photographs of the view from their window. The title is a reference to the socialist utopian vision of William Morris’s, News from Nowhere (1890). Of course, Morris’s title has its origins in Thomas More’s Utopia, the literal non-place or nowhere he invented in 1551. The fact that this nowhere became the accepted name for any ideal society has many implications, not least of which is that the ideal is wedded to the impossible and that this should be expressed as a negated location - that the search for the ideal society would be as futile as the medieval search for the location of the soul. The title arose from my own difficulty in locating Europe, both in terms of ideology and in simply picturing it as a place. I am not sure what or where Europe is and the fact that we can speak of this place as enlarged increases its geographic ambiguity. And is Europe a utopia? “Europe is a utopia: literally, an impossible non-place. Europe as a utopia has the structure of a utopia (in) itself: the utopia of becoming a "place without location", of becoming a place whose particularity would be universality itself; to redeem this impossibility as a possibility. […] Europe is the utopia of utopia: to be, as a certain place (Europe), a bearer of universalistic truth and politics which by definition should not be "smeared" by any local roots or identities.” Tuomas Nevanlinna, Europe as a Utopia (2006) Issue 22 of Transcript Identity Revolutions. In part, this exhibition aims to “smear” this utopian vision with something more immediate than a local identity. A utopia can only ever be a description of a prospect, a kind of ideological trompe l’oeil, in which a picture pretends to be a window. Universalism relies on a faith in the self-evident transparency of its language and the smear on the window draws our focus from the view through the glass to the glass itself. In the case of this exhibition the smear is not a mark on the glass but what we actually see when we look out of our windows. The immediacy and familiarity of the view obliterates the possibility of seeing Europe. Despite the fact that we are literally looking at this place called Europe it is not actually possible to see this geopolitical entity and to this extent it is also a view of nowhere. The exhibition is also partly to do with the origins of photography and specular technologies. The first photographic image taken by Niepce, in 1827, was a view through his window in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes . The image was made using a camera obscura, a piece of technology that has been known to painters as far back as the Renaissance. The move towards digital technologies continues to transform the medium and our relationship to it. One of the more recent developments is photo-blogging and, more interestingly, photo-sharing, internet communities such as flickr, through which this exhibition was put together. As the Views from Nowhere flickr group grew it struck me as natural that Niepce’s first photograph was a view through his window. It is as if he were thinking of the room itself as a camera obscura – literally a dark chamber with a glass window. Looking through the group pool of images I began to regard all these rooms throughout Europe as camera obscuras inhabited by weirdly named avatars, connected in the other nowhere of the internet. The language of the group also interested me – emerging from photograph titles, flickr identities, comments on the images and tags, it began to read as a kind of fractured, polyglot poetry.


Local EPrints ID: 160687
PURE UUID: fe2fee81-bd7e-42a4-bcac-e95f1da27b23

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Date deposited: 16 Jul 2010 13:47
Last modified: 29 Jan 2020 14:08

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Curator of an exhibition: Gordon Hon

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