University College Falmouth, Cornwall - UK
Nancy Ann Roth is an independent writer and translator based in Cornwall, UK. Holding a PhD. Degree in art history from The Graduate Center, City University of New York, she has worked variously as an art critic — with a particularly strong interest in photography — a curator, and as a teacher of history and theory in art education. She has translated three of Flusser’s books from German, and is currently translating Luxus, the most recent work of the phenomenologist Lambert Wiesing, into English.
Articles of Nancy Roth
The Protreptic Writer
Focussing on the text of the essay “The Gesture of Smoking a Pipe,” this paper proposes that at least some of Flusser’s writing can be usefully identified as protreptic. Having arisen in ancient Greece as a form of speech or writing for the explicit purpose of persuading an audience, protreptic also served to display the author’s skills and attract students, persuading young men to take up philosophy. It was never confined to a particular genre of writing, but always addressed its audience in a specified situation, that is, in circumstances shared by writer and reader. Applied to Flusser’s writing, the “communicative purpose” becomes a way of examining both the compositional structure and the implicit dialogue between writer and reader that appears in the text. Questions about the implied identity of the reader and of her relationship to the writer lead to a conclusion that even as the text argues about the right way to classify the gesture of smoking a pipe, it is also performing a phenomenological inquiry. The reader plays the role of audience to the performance, and so becomes the object of persuasion at another level as well. The paper further suggests that study of rhetorical structures in Flusser’s writing may reveal a new level of coherence across its languages, disciplines and genres.
Photographic Migrants: John Goto’s West End Blues
Treating Goto’s new images themselves as migrants--exotic, digital constructions uncomfortable in the land of “straight” art photography--the essay proposes that Flusser’s understanding of photography as projection, rather than record, offers a way of reconciling significant conflict in contemporary photography. Drawing on the writing of John Szarkowski to represent the “native” position, it argues that Goto’s “migrant” images bring the native’s strengths and limitations into focus. It draws on Flusser’s conviction about the migrant’s creativity to propose that an expanded understanding of “photography” does not damage or diminish any existing canon, and offers a structure in which the value of digitally
manipulated images can be considered in their rightful context, namely the entire history of photography.