Die Latenz der Fotografie. Zur Medientheorie des Erinnerns in Marcel Beyers Spione

Kai M. Sicks


With the advent of the “iconic turn” in the mid-1990s, studies on cultural memory gained a new dimension by focussing on the mnemonic role of images. In this context, photography and its relation to textual media like literature became a preeminent research object. The present essay analyses a text that develops, although itself literary, an intricate theoretical reflection on the matter: Marcel Beyer’s novel Spione, written in 2000. According to Spione, photos may not be considered as windows into former times, but as surfaces hiding a multi-faceted past. Photography thus appears as a medium of deception and latency rather than of elucidation. Consequently, the recollection of the past resembles the decipherment of delusive messages and the disclosure of mysteries—typical activities of spies who are prominently quoted in the novel’s title. (KMS; in German)

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