Diderot and The Last Luminare
1992, 32:00 minutes, colour, English
Diderot and the Last Luminaire attempts to give new perspective on the aims, processes and structures of the Age of Enlightenment by skewing underlying similarities and examining the evolving differences between the scientific revolution of the past and contemporary nostalgic constructions of the notion of "progress" tinged with fear and desire. Diderot's writings on the function of culture and politics in society and his concept of the distribution of knowledge are made manifest in the plates accompanying the Encyclopedia. These plates structure the video. his subversive model of visual knowledge, designed to democratize information, is used as a springboard to examine current concepts of knowledge control, dissemination and threatened collapse. The tape is an "updated" 20th century encyclopedia with all of the attendant impossibilities, a ludicrous desire to interrogate larger questions through the structures of the past. In a sense it longs for the speculative order of the Enlightenment while realizing the impossibility of its replication. It is about the gap between these two impulses.
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