Refractions in Life and Time
Refractions in Life and Time

Rosa Menkman
installation, 2023

An interactive audio-visual narrative that tells the story of the Angel of History’s mission to, unlike the one by Walter Benjamin, look towards the future, not the past

In 1940, Walter Benjamin characterized The Angel of History as a figure weighed down by the wreckage of the past, unable to see forward.

However, in Refractions in Light and Time, created almost a century later, the Angel of History is aware that progress and repair cannot be achieved by solely focusing on the past, but rather by also looking towards the future. This realization has sparked the Angel’s search for a certain lineage of Cyclopes – those who have sacrificed an eye, and with it their vision of the present, for a glimpse into the future and of their own demise.

Rosa Menkman is a Dutch artist and researcher. Her work focuses on noise artifacts that result from accidents in both analogue and digital media. These artifacts can offer precious insights into the otherwise obscure alchemy of standardization and resolution setting. In her publications, she describes how the standardization of resolutions is a process that generally promotes efficiency, order and functionality in our technologies. But as a side effect, the setting of resolutions also compromises and obfuscates alternative possibilities. Her recent research into what makes things and images im/possible, she aims to find new ways to understand, use and perceive through the use of and interaction with our technologies.