272 pp., 6 x 9 in, 50 b&w illus.
- Published: November 19, 2019
A multigenre investigation of the personal and cultural annals of memory, identity, and spectatorship, both on and off the screen.
In exchange for studying what each fraudulent cell looks like under a merciless commercial and commodified lens, viewers enable late-capitalism to run more smoothly by calling in with their votes, as is the case with Reality TV. From the inside, secrecy appears eradicated, as though secrets or coded transparencies comprise the totality of injustice, rather than just one part. Justice is reduced to a vantage point. We see and we see and we see ad infinitum.
—from Picture Cycle
With her debut collection Beauty Talk & Monsters (2007), Masha Tupitsyn established a new genre of hybrid writing that melded film criticism, philosophy, and autobiography. Picture Cycle continues Tupitsyn's multigenre investigation of the personal and cultural annals of memory, identity, and spectatorship, both on and off the screen. Composed over a ten-year period, Picture Cycle is a pioneering collection whose sharp and knowing vignette-like essays form a critical autobiography of the daily images in our lives. Deftly covering a range of theoretical and cinematic frameworks, Tupitsyn traces here the quickly vanishing line between onscreen and offscreen, predigital and postdigital. The result is a unique intellectual study of the uncanny formation of our life's biographies through images.
Like all good criticism, [Masha Tupitsyn] takes the esoteric or ineffable elements in art and renders them obvious, instinctive. What is so envy-making about her writing is that she does this with such graciousness that she makes it look easy.
Picture Cycle is a brilliant work of cultural criticism. At once lyrical and incisively analytical, it investigates, with great acuity, intellectual range, and undercurrent of mourning, “the new emotional schematic,” where lives and screens become hauntingly inseparable. In essays that reach back into pre-digital childhood and fast forward into an ever-spreading simulacrum, Masha Tupitsyn's gaze is always vibrant, curious, and compellingly alert to the telling detail and revealing contradiction. These formally inventive essays bring to mind both Gertrude Stein and John Berger, as they illuminate with beauty and tenderness a world that “stopped being The World and became something else."
Laurie Sheck, author of A Monster's Notes
Masha Tupitsyn's Picture Cycle is not just a socio-political argument for formal complexity, it is also an artwork that pushes criticism, art, and philosophy towards the immaterial, spectral, and sublime while maintaining exemplary attention to formal detail. Pressing against our lossless digital surfaces, Tupitsyn uncovers cuts, dissolves, frames, gaps, and junctures that revive our capacity for making sense.
Felix Bernstein, author of Burn Book, Notes on Post-Conceptual Poetry
Masha Tupitsyn's Picture Cycle rescues films of our generation from the memory hole to which everything but box office is now consigned. Her writing is intimate and analytical, laced with radiant perceptions about movie stars, memory, and lost time.
A. S. Hamrah, author of The Earth Dies Streaming
Words which cut through the noise of our time with precision, clarity, and elegance. Tupitsyn's singular essays shape shift between analysis, intervention, critique, and lyric essay, meeting her subject matter where it needs to be met. Tupitsyn makes the familiar unfamiliar once again and, at their best, her essays return and transform their subjects back into the strange, unfamiliar, unknown things they once were when we first encountered them.