The Image Out of History: Ben Russell’s "Let Each One Go Where He May" and Cultural Memory

By Giles Simon Fielke.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 26, 2014 $US5.00

Ben Russell’s film “Let Each One Go Where He May” (2009) may not at first appear to recall German cultural theorist Aby Warburg’s idiosyncratic image organisation,“Der Bilderatlas Mnemosyne” (1926-29). However, their investigations into the image and into gesture as it acts upon language draws the two works together. Considering the emergent methodology of cultural memory, an analysis of Russell’s recent film in this paper argues that the film’s images appear ‘out’ of history in such a way that it allows for a reflection upon contemporary notions of historiality, particularly as examined by Bernard Stiegler in his ongoing “Technics and Time” project. The phenomenological experience of the discrete image, out of time, in the theatrical site of the cinema, is a question both of contemporaneity, in the sense of being oriented alongside of time, and of the efficacy of the image as the basis for any historical project. The Warburgian paradigm that recalls the Western concept of memory, and the science of culture (Warburg’s “Kulturwissenschaft”) allows for a critique of modern theories of the image, and art histories that seek to abbreviate the image in order to translate it into text. It is the resistance of both Warburg and Russell’s works to this dominant narrative of translation, their challenge to taxonomic distinctions, which posits new modes for the archiving of visual concepts.

Keywords: Art History, Cinema, Movement, Gesture, Historiality

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 4, Issue 4, August 2014, pp.93-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 26, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 518.754KB)).

Giles Simon Fielke

PhD Candidate, Art History Department, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia