Wretched of the screen > Hito Steyerl


The poor image embodies the afterlife of many former masterpieces of cinema and video art. It has been expelled from the sheltered paradise that cinema seems to have once been.18 After being kicked out of the protected and often protectionist arena of national culture, discarded from commer- cial circulation, these works have become travelers in a digital no-man’s-land, constantly shifting their resolution and format, speed and media, sometimes even losing names and credits along the way.

Now many of these works are back—as poor images, I admit. One could of course argue that this is not the real thing, but then—please, anybody— show me this real thing.

The poor image is no longer about the real thing—the originary original. Instead, it is about its own real conditions of existence: about swarm circulation, digital dispersion, fractured and flexible temporalities. It is about defiance and appropria- tion just as it is about conformism and exploitation.

In short: it is about reality.