On Repeat: Session 1

On Repeat


Simon During

Author and critic, Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland


Drew Daniel

Professor of English literature, Johns Hopkins University; member of experimental-music band Matmos

John Malpede

Director and performer; founder of the Los Angeles Poverty Department

Amy Taubin

Contributing editor, Film Comment and Sight and Sound


Poppy wrote :

One small point of distinction to keep in mind might be that between replication and repetition. Replication implies (at least genetically, but in other arenas as well) a copying, or a reproduction in identical form. Recitations of the Iliad before it was codified in written form thus can be thought of as replications; it has been argued that although versions changed slightly, the overall goal was to preserve the original and hand it down intact with only minor variations through time. Repetition on the other hand can be thought of in terms of time itself. It is a reenactment. Repetition signals a going back, a duplication, but not a copying. The duplicate is itself temporary and must be repeated again. The danger in repetition, at least psychologically, is that it can be detrimental if not understood; repetition itself can be compulsive (note that repetition is not necessarily compulsion, it *can be* compul*sive*) and something that is not desired by the repeator. Replication, to me at least, has someone fewer negative connotations, but is actually entirely separate from repetition. Anyways, just some thoughts! Feel free to disagree/comment/etc.
Poppy posted on 06/21/10
D. W. Spriggs wrote :

In the May 2010 issue of Artforum, reviewing the Whitney Biennial, Chus Martinez offered a nuanced discussion of the relationship between history and contemporanaeity. She comes at one point to focus on memory, in context of the work H. M. (2009) by Kerry Tribe. “To lose one’s memory is to lose not only the faculty of recalling information but the very capacity to imitate and hence to represent. In other words, mimesis is . . . history, since without a single stable representation of the present, the past would be impossible to grasp.”

I’d be curious to see if any of the panelists have thoughts on how we use repetition to frame the past and make it comprehensible to ourselves. In the Haunted exhibition at the Guggenheim, a good deal of the work makes use of these repetitive tropes—Sharon Hayes comes to mind, as do Demand and other reperformance works Professor During refers to. I feel as if I’ve rarely heard a clear articulation of possible impulses behind such works and their efficacies.
D. W. Spriggs posted on 06/21/10
Larry Bole wrote :

In repetition, there is invariably variation: nothing is without change, even repetition.

Within the traditional technologies of art production, pretty much nothing these days can be done that hasn't been done in one way or another before. The best chance for genuine originality in art is the creation of new technologies, but even then, it's likely that some elements of the "original" art created with new technologies will repeat elements of existing art.

I will conclude with a stanza from Elizabeth Bishop's poem, "North Haven":

The Goldfinches are back, or others like them,
and the White-throated Sparrow's five-note song,
pleading and pleading, brings tears to the eyes.
Nature repeats herself, or almost does:
'repeat, repeat, repeat; revise, revise, revise.'
Larry Bole posted on 06/21/10

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