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Roy Samaha: Revenant (Sternberg Press / Research/Practice #5)

Roy Samaha: Revenant (Sternberg Press / Research/Practice #5)

Current price: $20.00
Publication Date: January 2nd, 2079
Sternberg Press


Artist Roy Samaha's examination of the uses of digital technology in the face of untimely disappearances and ghostly returns.

In June 2014, Roy Samaha embarked on a journey to the Aegean Sea that included a trip to Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. Scouting potential locations for a feature film, he encountered a folkloric tale about revenants and their perceived inability to travel across saltwater. A year later, having since returned to Beirut to continue work on his film, Samaha was confronted with images of refugees' capsized boats and the stories of them drowning in the Mediterranean. Recalling the earlier tale about Lesbos's revenants, Samaha submerged the smartphone that he had used during his trip to Mytilene in saltwater for forty days. As a result, the pictures, videos and messages that were stored in its memory were destroyed. Just as saltwater discouraged the passage of revenants and refugees, it likewise denied access to the images and information previously contained on Samaha's smartphone.

Focusing on the research that emerged from Samaha's initial journey, this volume enquires into how we represent historical events through digital means, especially if those events concern untimely disappearances and ghostly returns. Can the digital as a conduit negotiate the ephemerality or ghostliness of present-day forms of transmigration? What happens when we are left with an object of commemoration that speaks not only of an absence of images but the perennial ineffectiveness of digital technologies in the face of profound loss?

About the Author

Anthony Downey is an academic, editor, and writer. He is Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa (Birmingham City University).