Noon — A biannual magazine which explores art and commerce in contemporary culture

Noon is a biannual magazine which explores art and commerce in contemporary culture

Jonathan P. Watts

Absalon: A Life Unfinished

ABSALON: A LIFE UNFINISHED

‘The soul feels isolated, lost, if it is not surrounded by objects which seem to it like an extension of the bodily members.’ Simone Weil, The Needs of the Soul, 1949

Like the scion of modern architecture Le Corbusier, Absalon wasn’t born in his adopted city of Paris. Today, Le Corbusier’s name is synonymous with French cultural life, yet he was born in the Swiss region of La Chaux-de-fonds in 1887, and only later became a French citizen in 1930. Exactly a century after Le Corbusier’s birth,
in 1987, at the age of 23, Meir Eshel arrived in Paris, an émigré from his native Israel. After studying at the École des Beaux-Arts under Christian Boltanksi, Eshel would become Absalon.

Winning Over Fear

‘Exterminans – what a word to sum up Charles Manson’
(Ed Sanders, The Family, 1971)

Over the past ten hours, two of Joan Didion’s unforgettable passages had become mantras. ‘Many people I know in Los Angeles,’ I rehearsed, the Boeing doubling back over the Pacific to land in LAX, ‘believe that the ‘60s ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community.’ The other, Slouching Towards Bethlehem’s opening paragraph, interjected as the landing gear dropped:

The centre was not holding. It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes... It was a country in which families routinely disappeared, trailing bad checks and repossession papers... People were missing. Children were missing. Parents were missing. Those left behind filed desultory missing-persons reports, then moved on themselves.

Longing for the Future

LONGING FOR THE FUTURE

‘The consideration of the future makes us take responsibility for our nostalgic tales.’
(Svetlana Boym)

I no longer remember how I related to Blackstreet’s exorbitant display of emotion in Don’t Leave when it charted in 1997. Between school and shooting hoops up the field, as an 11 year-old I spent as much time as humanly possible at either of two best friends’ houses, mainlining on Nickelodeon or MTV. This had its localised effects: at that age I imagined myself into music videos so, as well as reciting lyrics, I could mimic dance routines, and had specific gestures and affectations mastered that entered my daily life. Small towns like mine became Transatlantic intersections between cable-televisual African-American culture and tepid Cool Britannia.

The Image Atlas in Motion

THE IMAGE ATLAS IN MOTION

Google search expresses it clearly enough: Aaron Swartz’s name finds its place among other visionaries of the age of post-ignorance Internet, among them, notably, Chelsea Manning and Lawrence Lessig. This motley gathering – idealists, skeptics, and whistleblowers – appears in the ‘Knowledge Graph’ to the right of the browser, a feature Google introduced in 2012 to enable its users to ‘go deeper and broader’ with their researches. American artist Taryn Simon’s collaboration with Swartz on The Image Atlas, a project they began after the latter’s attention had shifted almost exclusively towards activism for freedom of information on the Internet, is not immediately apparent. So it is: conditions of Internet visibility or, on the contrary, invisibility, and every latitude in-between, along national lines, is signal to this work.