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Scenes of ProjectionRecasting the Enlightenment Subject$
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Jill H. Casid

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780816646692

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816646692.001.0001

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Along Enlightenment’s Cast Shadows

Along Enlightenment’s Cast Shadows

Chapter:
(p.159) Chapter Four Along Enlightenment’s Cast Shadows
Source:
Scenes of Projection
Author(s):

Jill H. Casid

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816646692.003.0005

Chapter Four, “Along Enlightenment’s Cast Shadows,” begins with melancholy and the shadow of the object that falls across the ego. I elaborate how technologies of light projection to create shadow pictures form a foundational and persistent part of the history of projection technologies as both colonial regulatory devices for the production of the disembodied subject of reason and as machines haunted by other ways of knowing and becoming. The chapter begins with a reconsideration of the physiognomic silhouette. Taking seriously Lavater’s ambivalent assertion that what he calls the “shade” may assist the promotion of human understanding and love, the chapter turns to the beginnings of photography and William Henry Fox-Talbot’s alternate naming: “skiagraphy,” or shadow writing. The chapter argues that setting the early history of photography back into the dark room of devices for drawing with shadow allows us to bring out photography’s relation not to only to identitarian fixity but also to volatility, desire, and transformation. The final section focuses on the work of contemporary artist Kara Walker’s use of the technology of shadow projection to reconsider the institution of the photographic archive and its regulatory effects on the body. Thinking through shadow projection enables us to see the body in ways that revolatilize the hardened differences of race and sexuality as well as galvanize the transformative instability in the universal pretensions of enlightenment technologies--namely, the fact that we all cast a black shadow.

Keywords:   enlightenment, visions of terror, colonial archives, physiognomy, silhouette, photography, Kara Walker, shadow projection

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