Camera Query


María DeGuzmán






Duty & Sass
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán


LGBTQ College Guide

Atlanta Pride

¿Arte queer en España? (Spain)

Barbara Hammer Films

Bint el Nas (Daughter of the People)


Colombia Diversa (Colombia)

Derivative Duo

The Disposable Boy Toys

Bending la luz © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

Experimental Performance Institute

The Fabulous Pages


GALA Visual Arts

Gay and Lesbian Arabic Society


Gender Advocacy & Education

The Gender Frontier


David Walter Gilbert



Homo a Gogo


Intergeneration: Queer Community Across the Ages

International Queer Hotlist

Jon Sims Center

LarryBob Hotlist


Berlin Bar © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Lesbenseiten (Germany)

Lesbian Cyberspace Index

The Lesbian & Gay Studies Project

Letra S (Mexico)

Movimiento Gay Revolucionario (Venezuela)

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force

National Youth Advocacy Coalition

North Carolina Pride Parade & Festival

The Other Queer Page

Project QueerLit

Queer History Links

Queer Matters

Queer Resources Directory


Queer Visualities

Radical5 (Montreal, Canada)

Rainbow Flava

Rainbow Sauce

Raíz Diversidad Social (Perú)

[r]Evolution of Gender

Richmond Pride


Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League

Simeon Solomon Research Archive


SONG (Southerners on New Ground)

South Carolina Gay & Lesbian Pride

Shadow of a Gender, © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

The Sylvia Rivera Law Project

Transgender Education Society

Transgender Forum

Trembling Before G-D

Triangle Community Works

True Colors

Urban Hermitt

Warhol: Education

Miel: Honey Bear Mystic © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Would you fling a heart of glass? © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Dream of accompaniment ©2003 by María DeGuzmán

If you would like more information about Camera Query, would like to exchange ideas or chat with María about photo-text work, collaboration, and/or the uses of visual/verbal media, or would like to invite her to give a lecture on her photo-text work at your institution, please write to the following e-mail address:

Five languages are understood: Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, and Italian though replies will be made in Spanish or English


Please bear in mind that, unless otherwise indicated, all photo-text is copyrighted to María DeGuzmán. None of it may be reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without written contractual permission granted by María DeGuzmán of Camera Query.


Culture & Copyright Sites

Creative Commons

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Illegal Art




María DeGuzmán

María DeGuzmán is Professor of Latina/o Literature(s) & Culture(s) in the Department of English & Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is also the Director of Latina/o Studies at UNC. She has published many articles on Latina/o writers. Her first book titled Spain's Long Shadow: The Black Legend, Off-Whiteness, and Anglo-American Empire was published in 2005 by the University of Minnesota Press. Her second book, Buenas Noches, American Culture, was published in 2012 by Indiana University Press. Her research and teaching include transcultural and comparative ethnic studies, visual culture studies, queer studies, and aesthetics including the study of soundscapes.



Memory cemetery
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Memory fragment
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

OBSESSION "the persistence of an idea in the mind, haunting" !En los archivos negros, no!

Render the present past, or how do you know which is which, anyway? What is past for some is prologue for others. For me, every moment contains every other. Yes, it's quite a trip. Don't need to drop acid to feel it, see it, know it. Time's warped, alright. And space? Ah, space. Funny how it poses as itself-- kind of solid, until it's not. Some philosophers have given a name to this-- time compression. How about space-time condensation?

Refuse bitter resignation

Defy those who would bury the past to reinvent themselves, those who compartmentalize, those who exclude and segregate, those who cultivate a studied amnesia and ask you to do likewise, those who would archive your existence or simply remove you at whim. Defy their stated and unstated regime of fragmentation and forgetting, of repression. Theirs is not the road to joy, but to foreclosure and a confining sadness, an enclosing reserve, quite unlike a delirious, flaming sorrow that heats up the flow of desire for connection. Defy, defy, defy. Freedom is communicating. Burn brightly those synapses of memory, those words of light --from west to east, from south to north! Project a thousand pictures, five thousand pictures, for each of those days and nights coursing on blue, green, red paths their phantom images to the brain from the systole and diastole of the heart,

Heart in hand © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

from the heart that is the motor of this projector, this projector not merely of the colonizers but of all who have been asked to keep silent, to close their eyes, to be still, to play mute. Ah, there will be time enough to be still in damp burial earth. Meanwhile ...

Disposable Soul, or the Red One with the collaboration of Debbie López © 2004 by María DeGuzmán welcome to the monstrousity of images, of the living who will not die just because someone has asked them to fill that role.

Latina/o Arts

Latina/o Art Community

Andanzas at Web Latino

ASCO (1971 - 1985)

Bookstore of the Americas

Culture Clash

El Puerto Rican Embassy

Lourdes Portillo

Tia Chucha's Cultural Cafe

Queer Latina/o Arts Coalition

Antonio Lopez & Juan Ramos

Alex Rivera



La Vitrina
Mexican Cultural Institute
of New York


"The changing of Bodies into
Light, and Light into
Bodies, is very conformable
to the Course of Nature,
which seems delighted
with Transmutations."
--Isaac Newton, Book 3, Part I,
Opticks or a Treatise of
the Reflections, Refractions,
Inflections, & Colours
of Light

Ghost of an angel
or fleshly remainder:
transformation of light
into a body
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán,
from Prismatic Prismatricks


When your shadow walks
away from you ...
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
with the gracious
collaboration of Yoko

What is the status of integrity in the wake of a break? Can you split to integrate? Or must one acknowledge self-contradiction and ambiguous outcomes? Not the magic of transfiguration for which you hoped? Whatever transformation may result will be uncanny and beyond our control. Anamorphosis of the incalculable filtered through formulas of perception. --Freud and Jung grumbling from beyond the grave.

pass over with cursor
Sun between her fingers,
or fort-da 
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán


Living in twilight under a rainbow and
running toward a horizon that receded
ever further and finally froze into
a mere picture, a mere picture for 
memory's sake. Pretty, huh?

Under the Rainbow 
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán 

2002-2003. It was a year of rainbows, 
from April to April and into the summer.
Down south, anyway. With all the 
rain droplets lying about on
vast quantities of green.
Wishes, prayers, imaginings
springing to the sky from behind
eyes shut tight, a glad game,
in a world hanging by a bare thread
of hope. Remember?



Sunbeam trapped in a maze
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
from Prismatic Prismatricks

You know, it's true. Vibrations
in the air came to me from afar.
This was to be our pyrotechnic,
synaesthetic swan song. 
Such a beautiful
last ditch-effort.
But, I've always been a sucker
for beauty.
How strange that it involved
the fracturing of light,
a covenant displayed
at its very undoing.



In the obsidian mirror
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
from Prismatic Prismatricks

"In ancient times the Mexican Indians made mirrors of volcanic glass known as obsidian. Seers would gaze into a mirror until they fell into a trance. Within the black, glossy surface, they saw clouds of smoke which would part to reveal a vision concerning the future of the tribe and the will of the gods." --Gloria Anzaldúa, "Enfrentamientos con el alma" in Borderlands: La Frontera (1987)

pass over with cursor
Of mourning and militancy
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Ryder in the Eye of the Beast © 2003 by María DeGuzmán with the collaboration of Hadji

Boca con una rosa © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Garçon, what's with the tux?
Tux for a wedding, tux for a funeral
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

"In the flâneur, the intelligentsia sets foot in the market place— ostensibly to look around, but in truth to find a buyer." --Walter Benjamin, "Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century"

© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Fountain of her being
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

"All seemed transparent for a moment to the gaze of Fanny Wilmot, as if looking through Miss Craye, she saw the very fountain of her being spurt up in pure, silver drops." --Virginia Woolf, "Slater's Pins Have No Points"

Long Ago Double Sappho
for Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper
(aka Michael Field)
from Prismatic Prismatricks
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Ring fingers
from Prismatic Prismatricks © 2004 by María DeGuzmán "Art thou so glad the sardonyx Becomes thy shapely hand?" From "Long Ago XXXV" by Michael Field

A "Y" is an "X" that diverges from itself.

"The addict is a non-renouncer par
excellence ... ."

Avital Ronell, Crack Wars:
Literature Addiction Mania (2004)


Floating Ruin
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán

Listing from side to side
between inevitability and possibility...
Announced on the news today. The next
big trend: foreclosure. Hard times. 
Someone's admitting it. Abandoned
properties in disrepair full of 
garbage, rotting food, and missing light
fixtures. Lack and loss. Loss and lack.
Literally. Materially. Psychically, too,
of course, for how can one separate any
of these things?

Melancholia and mourning vie with one 
another. Some say melancholia is 
endless while mourning is finite. Some
say melancholia is a malingerer while
mourning has a job to do and does it 
well. Mourning has a work ethic and
melancholia is a bum. Or so some say.

Read Freud's essay on mourning and
melancholia and you too can join the
fracas and take sides, if you wish,
while one thing and another is fore-
closed in a world of haves and have 
nots and happiness comes in pill form 
and sheer terror lies in an optimism 
that insists it has nothing to lose and
everything to gain--that nothing much
has been lost. That loss and lack
can be defied with the right touch,
the ethical equivalent of the Midas 
touch. "Opportunity world," a friend 
once said. 

For a while now she had been walking
the decks of a becalmed and ruined ship.
People kept waving to her and calling 
out, "Hey, get off that sinking ship and
go cruising, girl. Enough is enough."
She waved back and continued her vigil.
There was much to see and trace. A
tremendous amount. Her lost lover's face
for instance. Bits of their past
together. Her friends, missing in 
action. Last night in her dream, a dead 
friend came to dinner. There he was, 
sitting in her livingroom. She
could see him very clearly, but he
was also transparent. Just like a ghost.
Just like the convention of a ghost.
Another friend, a dying one, stopped by. 
In her dream she had become so small she 
had to get down on the floor to converse
with her, to hear what she was saying.
Just as in Alice in Wonderland. Toward
the end of the dream, her lost lover
appeared, as often happened at the end
of dreams. She too was transparent
and darkly so, a shadow it seemed,
flitting about the house, the ship, the
foreclosuring structure she refused to
foreclose floating upon the waters.

Regard © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

"As a passionate erotic glance desires its object, anxiety looks at sorrow in order to desire it. As a quiet, incorruptible glance of love is preoccupied with the beloved object, anxiety preoccupies itself with sorrow." -- Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life (1843)

Opening, or Crystallization
 © 2004 by María DeGuzmán
from Prismatic Prismatricks

This may look and sound like
falling in love. But, in reality,
it is a fugue state ...

© 2004 by María DeGuzmán

"Night falls like fire; the heavy lights run low,
And as they drop, my blood and body so
Shake as the flame shakes, full of days and hours"

--Algernon Charles Swinburne, from "Laus Veneris"
Rushing flow of light through the dark
places, silent annunciation of that
which cannot entirely speak its name
even if it tried within ephemeris time.
This communiqué that permeates
everything despite the dead space,
the silence and white noise, the 
terror, the boredom and betrayals, the
closing doors of possibility and the
closed doors of perception, the flow of
oil and blood that brings nothing but
smog and despair, the killing fields 
and burning lakes, all the mutilations
here and there. Rushing flow of light
beyond good and evil, acceptance and
rejection, horizons and prison bars.
Rushing flow of light--an ecstasy, a 
drunken-reeling, an ineffable delight,
and an unreconciled swift-moving sorrow 
for so much beauty in this place 
of fear and pain and restriction. 

Spirit Guide
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán
Somebody said spirit guide. Concentrate
now. The animal moving in the field
stilled itself, face turned toward
you. One of the mares who broke away
from the nightmares, for a while anyway.
What word casts a spell to stop time
or make it go in circles of ecstasy,
outside ourselves and shimmering in that
space between? Something in another
tongue, unknown to us but floating on
the downwind.

Treading Light: Fluxed
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán
"You silly, desperate dreamer. You idealist,"
she reproached herself. "You of the cities
of night and the night lights; the street
signs invested with significance; the desire
for a lost silken shoulder and the fallible
human love for a fascinating jigsaw puzzle; 
the glimpse of an angel and those angelic
conversations (when they were angelic); the
play of light on reflecting surfaces; the
galloping night horses of ghostly visions;
the telescopes and binoculars and cameras
and magnifying lenses with which to see more 
and more and more; the rainbow-making prisms 
of glass and water; the veil and sequin
masquerades; the shadows that you chase;
the full moon; the sun between your fingers;
the searcher's swinging lantern; the skies
aflame and the tracery of bridges burned;
the grief-induced travel within a space-time 
warp; the queendoms, divadoms, on the rocks;
the plays on perspective (a new angle, 
please); the hankering for eternity and
perfection (oh, no!); and the rude, exhausted 
awakening to finitude and failure. The
party's over, you overreacher."
Take me to the discoteque where I can drown my sorrow in curtains of light and those anthems of mournful joy. In something like Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" re-arranged by DJ Tiësto. In the drugstores, the supermarkets, on the newsstands, billboards, and TV, cartoon characters, celebrities, and heroes by the culture-ful (sackful doesn't quite catch it!) peek out at her and everyone else. Eye-candy for kids,teeny-boppers, and warmongers, serially and all in one, rocking and rolling together. Tonight, at the discoteque, she closes her eyes. The DJ is playing the re-arranged "Adagio for Strings" by request. She's not the only one who has asked to have it played. She's heard it more than once, at the discoteque and floating out car windows in the cities of the world. As the music begins to swirl up and away on joy curving around the dark side of the moon, she remote views someone she knows, one of those angels, flying into a black hole of the universe, the kind made by intimacy miming, calculatedly, a fearful anonymity. And she imagines how the angel will emerge on the other side of that black hole, the picture of estranged recognition.

Passing Through © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

You run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking ... too late, it's all too late. And yet still you run, just in case, in the spirit of, for example, Pascal's bet about God or was it really a deal with God? Running up that hill? Just in case. I saw a girl (or was it a boy?) streaking by with a pile of scripts. Youth or hope or urgency? Who can tell who is who and what is what anymore? At any rate, a reminder of something lying in my (or is it your?) chambers of the heart, convolutions of the limbic system, a blind desire to live though no one really knows exactly what that means or where any of us is going. The stateless reside in airports, detention centers, subterranean passageways. You pause. You stop. When did the mourning begin? It has been going on around you, beside you, all along. Now it's within you. Impossible to extirpate. It feeds on the central fact that two people within the same space-time stepped out into different spaces, different times, from one another. It feeds on that fact magnified a billionfold. Last night my friends came over to dinner. They ate the food in my refrigerator. They flopped on my bed. They pranced around my house. And, for a little while, they made me forget.

Alien Self © 2005 by María DeGuzmán

Now all that's solid has melted into air.
Someone dragged our idealism through
smouldering landfills. Who has done this
thing? (Oh, will you stop lamenting!)
Hegel lies bound and gagged. The zeitgeist
is system-wide spoilage. I heard a rumor ...
someone said that someone said 
you told ... an untruth to singe the 
soul, for convenience and efficiency, because
it is easier to forget and feel no more.
I stand at the window, sentinel who refuses 
cynicism as a second skin or as protection, 
the protection of the refrigerated morgue
vault. Some claim the world has become a 
manipulable play of surfaces and effects and
unreconcilable fragments. Who can deny that?
And yet pulling the rug from beneath
certainty's feet has gotten old --
a trick without a tale to tell that reaches
into the depths of the alienation to 
which we have sunk or risen beyond the
earth's thin rind of breathable atmosphere.
The picture of estranged recognition
begins in the mirror turned inside out.

© 2005 by María DeGuzmán



Grand avenue of los sueños...

when you've lost your dream,

take a ride

into la noche

and read the signs of the times.

Check this out, for instance:


Welcome, bienvenidos, to or Camera Query brought into existence summer 2003. Camera Query was conceived and is designed and managed by María DeGuzmán formerly of SPIR: Conceptual Photography at

As the name Camera Query suggests, this project and entity practices its photo-text work to pose questions about reality, identity, identification, subjectivity, and agency in time and space. It approaches photography as conceptual performance (visual practice as applied theory) and views the play between visual and verbal signs as media for philosophical and political exploration and production. As you will see for yourself, this is a multi-issue site deliberately inter-relating musings on location, movement, stasis, appearance, affect (especially melancholia, wistfulness, and whimsy, though shock, grief, and joy, too), memory, projective imaginings, belief, desire, materiality, dematerialization, virtual materiality, spectrality, phantasmagoria, the politics of identity and identification, subjectivity and the uses of visual media (photography in particular, but also the web page itself, hypertext), and so on. Such an assemblage may seem confusing at first. This site is not laid out on the minimalist tabular genealogical tree-like basis generally encouraged in web design. Instead, it invites you to read areas of the page in relation to other areas, somewhat simultaneously, while scrolling up and down and side to side without having to leave this page if you do not want to, though there is plenty of opportunity to do so through the links. Think of it as the reading of an illuminated manuscript and/or emblem book, the digitalization of very old traditions of vision, interpretation, inquiry, and speculation, if you wish. This photo-text website is indeed an example of conceptual photography. Though much conceptual photography follows a minimalist aesthetic and minimalist praxis may be a way of questioning and deconstructing the very status of the "art object," not all conceptual photography is or must be minimalist by any means. Clearly, this page is not. It is neither minimalist nor "modern" but rather revels in the baroque and what might be taken as anachronistic, even "old-fashioned." But, those of you who contemplate the strange workings of (un)consciousness in space-time know that the avant garde often prepares us for what is to come and that what is to come is composed of broken fragments of history's déjà vu (paramnesia) spirallings! If we're feeling vertigo, is it any wonder?


Street of Thought/Deep Thought/Speculation
The European Graduate School
Speculative philosophy and the interpretation
(construction?) of experience


And, yes, for those of you who were wondering about the moniker Camera Query, it is supposed to be evocative—visually and aurally—not only of "querying" as in "questioning" but also as in "queerying," or making "queer" in all senses of that word, including the libidinal. "Queer" as sensibility and practice calls into question and toes a highwire strand plaited from (among other attributes) the impish (from the mildly mischievous to seriously bad attitude), the ecstatic, and the urgently grave. Enjoy.

pass over with cursor
Leap & Last Ray
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán,
for Walter Benjamin,
who did not want to be a survivor,
and his angel of history
To redeem the hopes
of a demolished past, 
of a future soon obliterated?





"Hell has to do with justice,
not anger. Hell begins with
If we didn't have any hopes
we wouldn't suffer.
Hell begins with the idea that
things can be made better.
Paradise is rest, isn't it?
Repose. You go to paradise
after you've worked
three shifts running,
twenty-four hours without a
You stop and there's the pure
pleasure of stopping, doing
nothing, lying down.
You don't know anything else
exists. No relations in
Undistilled egotism,
Paradise! It's only in hell that
we find each other."
- John Berger




"Satirists as disappointed romantics do not deal well with irrational fantasy because they recognize it as the path to disillusionment."--Patricia Juliana Smith, October 2003


I dreamt Brother Blue sang,
"Why did you ...?"
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

In her ear Brother Blue's song began and ceased and began again with tremulous cadence slow, dragging out an eternal note of sadness, comingling with other verses of Sappho and Sophocles and whatever else came in on the riptide of a faithless sea churned up by one more lady from the sea,

Lady © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

one more of those huracanes (when did the eddy become a hurricane?) driven east to west and south to north, those whirling vortices que nos hacen saber que este mundo que aparenta ser tan varioso, tan bello, tan nuevo posee ni certidumbre, ni paz, ni bálsamo para el dolor.

Temptation comes in many forms—masquerading as the angel of light, the arc of promise, the art of persuasion, the manufacture of identities, the tympanic sympathy of voices vibrating in unison while their purpose is singular—to shoot a ghost with a gun, abolish the specter whose heart began to break long ago. Specter with a heart of glass and eyes wide open, an anti-type of Oedipa standing before the riddles of the Sphinx, blinding herself as long as she could but foreseeing into the distance how the dice would fall, the wheels of opportunity turn. Such turns of the wheel are predictably confused by sleepwalkers with lines of escape and the fantastic (or are they infernal?) desiring-machines of which the poet-philosophers speak. Oedipa's anti-type sighs sharply as she recognizes the wellworn pleasures of pre-programmed elopement, over hill and dale, mistaken for resistance and rebellion, mistaken for a radical politics of desire.

An accident. Desire is an accident.
It does not know itself.
A derailment, if this were a train wreck.
But it was a car accident.
Machinic limbs. Limbic machines.
Libido is a machine.
Watch what you set in motion,
riding in what drives you.

pass over with cursor

Had a ticket to ride, or
too "unreal" for fiction
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

("love is a Stranger 
in an open car
to tempt you in
and drive you far away"--Eurythmics)

© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

One of these tender nights I shall speak as myself full fathom five from the riverbed. The sound of the traffic passing on the roads through town, the doppler effect, brings a fathomless ache of distance—and the world turns to water again, blurred of time. The clocks and wrist watches lie.

The cars go by, ceaselessly, go by. The dark waters glimmer and gleam, motes in my eye, plunged into the heart and gone.

© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

I traverse the arc of the footbridge, back and forth and back again, Rilke's panther in the night hungry for an ideal that won't take a dive, descend like Orpheus into the underworld in search of Eurydice who never surfaced again. Like Orpheus (mistaken for a goat) later ripped to shreds by the claws of some careless Bacchae on a joy ride.

And yet still outwardly intact, lack is my coat and lack is my hat and lack is my blanket in which I wrap myself up. No lack of Cadillac. "Everything is far and long gone by." Everything is long and far gone.

Reading before a windowless train
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

But, you will be haunted, Memorial to Storrow Drive, by the ghosts of a joyous twosome

© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

who arced round and round! Blinded by temporality, their story betrayed and abandoned its fabulousness, became an ordinary one—like so many the world over.

"Tired of Tragic Poets Shamelessly Mourning their Ideals?"

--Quentina Compsonita in The Sights, Sounds, and Furies of Passion

Camera-veiled face 
among the roses: flores valientes
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán


Collected Visions

The Mirror Project

Duane Michals

Time warp cube or serpent with video screen for a head or the record of a fall
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
("every time I think of you, I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue" -- Bizarre Love Triangle, New Order)

"The great virtue of magic, and of alchemy, her daughter, is to postulate the unity of matter, with the result that certain philosophers of the alembic and the crucible have even conjectured that matter could be of the same nature as light and thunderbolts. That postulate carries us perilously far, but no adept of the science worthy of his name would fail to recognize the dangers." --Marguerite Yourcenar, The Abyss (1968) ALCHEMY & HERMETICISM metafísica en acción, experimental metaphysics, arte combinatoria, hands-on "natural" philosophy
Alquimia de hoy y ayer Francis Bacon Roger Bacon
Beware of the homunculus Giordano Bruno Cagliostro John Dee & Edward Kelly Donum Dei Ireneo Filateo Nicolas Flamel Robert Fludd The Golem of Prague Hermeticism History of Hermetic Philosophy The Jewish Alchemists Albert Magnus María the Jewess Pico della Mirandola Mujeres y alquimia Music from Atalanta fugiens Occult Tendencies, 17th c Purple Red or Rubedo Transmutation or Projection Powder Remedios Varo

What the night mares saw
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

"Sweet dreams are made of this …
everybody is looking for something"
(but will Senta choose 
the Farm instead?)
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
in collaboration with Martha Mockus
and Patricia Juliana Smith

"All this time the Guard was looking at her, first through a telescope, then through a microscope, and then through an opera-glass. At last he said, 'You're traveling the wrong way,' and shut up the window, and went away."

--From Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll



"To the sea, back to the sea! To the sea
for all eternity! You have broken
faith, I cannot be saved!"
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
in collaboration with 
Patricia Juliana Smith

Walter Benjamin reminds us that Theodore Adorno writing about Kierkegaard observed that the sea is the image of eternity and that "the semblance to which the historical hour condemns things is eternal."

-- Benjamin, "The Interior, The Trace," in The Arcades Project

"It is recovered./What? Eternity./In the whirling light/Of the sun in the sea."

--Arthur Rimbaud, "A Season in Hell"

Joy and Grief

"That grief should be willingly endured, though far from a simply pleasing sensation, is not so difficult to be understood. It is the nature of grief to keep its object perpetually in its eye, to present it in its most pleasurable views, to repeat all the circumstances that attend it, even to the last minuteness ... ."

--Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757)


Listening © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

She felt herself beginning to turn a corner.
She knew she could not live on the spiritual
anemia of melancholic nostalgia -- 
a la recherche du temps perdu. 
Nor would she die of it, though
it was wasting the flesh off her bones,
literally, as if giving so much
thought to feeling, feeling
to thought, were sucking out the very marrow.
She cupped her hand to rest her chin,
facing, with eyes open but inward-looking,
the vertiginous despair she had been fighting
through denial.
Despair. There it was. There it was.
And there it was again. Every instant.
She would not try to annihilate it. 
She sat listening, breathing.
The world was often raunchy and raucous,
full of cheap thrills and
short-lived betrayals and venganzas.
She considered it might be time
to laugh, just a little.
But she also knew it would be a laugh
tentatively edged with an aureole of terror,
rings of color around the moon.

Moon caught on a branch: We're going there, haven't you heard? © 2003 by Maria DeGuzmán
Nothing. Emptiness. Void. Meaninglessness. Triviality. Again, nothing. Nada. La nada. It was ordinary, not extraordinary. An ordinary pain, she remembered some tune by Stevie Wonder. Wonder. What to do in the face of this nothingness? It was the sound of the cars on the highway, the drip of a leaky faucet, the papery rustle of a stack of unpaid bills falling to the floor, the hum of generators in some building. And, it was also the loss of love, miscommunication, silence, lies, alienation, isolation, the pettiness of competition, the daily given of the rat race to nowhere fast in the name of accomplishments, success, and the pursuit of happiness, maybe fame, maybe fortune at someone else's expense (always). She thought to herself, if she hurried enough, if she raced around as fast as her legs would carry her, she might not notice. This nothing might not catch her unawares. Then she remembered a dear friend had told her, "When this fatal nothing would find me, I would visit hospitals, old people's homes, the corridors of psych wards, orphanages, and jails to see beyond the cloistered ruins of my own life." The void morphed into rungs of hell and one held on to gratitude like hope, to humility like faith, to compassion like love.

Samples from a 
A Hard Day's Nightwood, after
Djuna Barnes's novel Nightwood (1936)

Done with the collaboration of Erin Carlston, Hadji, Carisa Showden, and Patricia Juliana Smith as well as Dominique Fisher, Frederica von Jagen, Candace Jean Kern, Annie Martin, Steven P. Preissler, Brian Toomey, Matthew and Susan Townsend, and with the cooperation of Acme Food and Beverage Co., Charron Andrews, and the Kern Residence

"'Doctor,  I have come to ask you to tell me everything
you know about the night.'" --Djuna Barnes

pass over with cursor

Pat as Dr. Matthew O'Connor
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

"Ah, mighty uncertainty!" said the doctor. "Have you thought of all the doors that shut at night and opened again? ... and all the windows, great and small, from which love and fear have peered, shining and in tears."

-- Djuna Barnes

pass over with cursor
Carisa as Nora searching for Robin
©2003 by María DeGuzmán

Alright, change of gears. Change of speed. Change of temperature. Some of us privilege duration and intensity; others intensity over duration. Some chronometric time; some psychological time. Isn't chronometric time also psychological--psycho-cultural, to be precise? Ah, never mind the complications. Burn your bridges in a day (or night). Here today and goners tomorrow. Love 'em and leave 'em and truly deceive 'em, first and foremost a form of self-deception in the name of the intoxications of desire, some lovely dream, some double delusion, some folie a deux, of course, mon amour.


"... seeing  Robin go from table to table, 
from drink to drink,
from person to person ... ." --Djuna Barnes

pass over with cursor
Robin and "the Other Woman" Exponential
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
"... looking out into the garden ... 
she saw a double shadow
falling from the statue ... 
she saw emerge from the darkness
the light of Robin's eyes ... 
Robin's eyes met hers." -- Djuna Barnes

pass over with cursor
Erin as Jenny Petherbridge
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Café de la Mairie du VI © 2004 by María DeGuzmán with the collaboration of Patricia Juliana Smith, Steven P. Preissler, Dominique Fisher, Carisa Showden, Erin Carlston, Candace Jean Kern, Annie Martin, Brian Toomey, and Acme

Signifying: Endgame
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

All her life she has been la leyente, la lectrice, the reader. Eyes scanning and scrutizing letters, words, phrases, sentences, pausing to let the type dimensionalize into images, following the story line however fractured and broken and scrambled. And there always is a story—maybe several intersecting one another, planes of space-time full of little worm-holes to crawl through from one to the other. She is practiced at reading, well-versed, so to speak. Of that, if nothing else, she can be quite sure. She likens this exercise to a combination of algebra and geometry.

Three Lives and A Whale of a Triangle:
Gertrude Stein meets Lotte Jacobi 
meets Herman Melville
from Prismatic Prismatricks
Copyright © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

And, by the way, there's more than one kind of geometry. Euclidean and non-Euclidean, for instance. Some people entertain themselves with equations involving numbers; but then again letters are also numbers, aren't they, and count in uncanny combinations of the continuous and the discontinuous, the solid and the spectral, the real and the imaginary, except that it is all interplaned, isn't it? For who can tell the difference between ... say, a smile and a veil, flesh and a mask, tragedy and farce?

Claude Cahun Ear
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán

She turns her dreaming head in the dark.

She was walking the decks of a tremendous rusting
Gulf Coast cruise ship with Hart Crane.

Sorcerer's Lantern 
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán

In her ear he whispered, "For those who step the legend of their youth into the noon." It was not noon but midnight. She marvelled at the hard glittering
star-spangled sky wheeling above their heads
and the echoing cry of gulls. Crane kept going to
the railing. The wind whipped his hair and coat
as he leaned over the bars toward the infinite
waters giving up little phosphorescent ghosts.

"Crane," she warned, "you really ought not to lean
out so far. Remember, your center of gravity resides
in your head."

He moved away from the railing and stood looking
out to sea. She walked on. Away in the distance,
up near the ship's prow, she spied, under the
blazing beam of a floodlight, two figures deep in secretive conversation. She drew closer, closer, on the balls of her feet.

One was saying to the other, "Oh ... I ... had ...
a terrible dream."

The other replied, "It's all right. Chance's with

And the first responded, "I feel as if someone
I loved had died ... I don't want to remember who
it could be."

And the second inquired, "Do you remember your

It was then she recognized these two. By their
voices. They were Princess 'Cause and Chance.

They were silhouetted against a cyclorama of
palm branches among the stars and then only of
sky and sea. Chance was pulling out a snapshot
of someone else, not Princess 'Cause, and
she heard the sound of lamentation in his-her
voice. The wind blew the words away.

In the dark, she turns her head back. Crane was
leaning over the railing again, perversely.

"Hart, stop that!"

But, he did not hear her.

Oh, no, not another no exit play.

Wouldn't a little intercession be nice?
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán
from Prismatic Prismatricks

A queer clairvoyance
(in memory of Michael Field)
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán
from Prismatic Prismatricks

Here s(he) comes, an angel of joy,
over the red purgatorial fields
towards the bluest depths of water

Minerva's Radar
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán

Minerva's radar, Athena's owl. Minerva of the State along with Jupiter and Juno. The matrix is all around, we know this already, and not a move goes unobserved (at least theoretically). In the control tower, the operators sit and watch the screen all day, then walk in circles. The dream is to be eagle-winged and owl-eyed. To be everywhere swiftly, to see all. But, the burden of knowledge is becoming heavier in this invisible web of instantaneity. We know what we don't want to know and reach for a plastic-coated anodyne, analgesic, to melt in the mouth. Propranolol against heart attacks and the adrenaline rush that burns memory into the brain. Minerva, goddess of handicrafts and war. Crafty, alert. I wait between planes. I see her bird perched out there beyond the terminal's polarized windows. Not the Raven of Nevermore for the lost Lenore (with whom I am only too well acquainted), but the Owl hooting in the night above my head dreaming on my pillow in a narrow bed, foreboding pouring from its great black pupils crowned by golden irises. As I sink into that space where the colors break from their forms, their frames, and bleed richly across a never-never sky, I imagine this Owl, this bird all feathers and two unsentimental eyes wide open, to be the one kind of guardian angel left. The sheets fold around me like snow despite the summer air wafting through the screened windows. Warm, tingling blood feels the chill and is not numbed.

Lady of the Sea and Her Kingdom on the Rocks © 2004 by María DeGuzmán
"A concert is being performed tonight. It is
the event. Vibrations of sound disperse,
periodic movements go through space with
their harmonics or submultiples. The sounds
have inner qualities of height, intensity,
and timbre."

From "What is an Event?" in Gilles Deleuze's
The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque

A concert, huh? One of those serendipitous musical experiences? Vibrations that come to you from the outside (or as if from outside) and disturb your emotions, deliciously. Ahha. The invasion of a welcomed body- snatcher soul-catcher sending you out to wander the streets with the strange exhiliration of walking on the edge of a precipice. A sacred restlessness that will not be tranquillized with the merely actual but instead yearns anxiously for the possible in the stony face of impossibility. All induced by that music, spur to a freed horse, ravisher of the soul, queen of the senses, distracting you from fear and sorrow under an inconstant moon--in this, our sublunary, existence.

¡Flaming O! 
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán

Stop mooning and moping and mucking about!
Something's hot in the night;
something wants to get out.
For too long now
you've been plagued by doubt,
your face the portrait
of a permanent pout.
And where does that get you
at the end of the night,
at the end of the night,
at the end of the night?
Bolt upright in bed,
wide-eyed and staring, and, I'm sorry to say,
looking a fright!


Id and Ego © 2004 by María DeGuzmán in collaboration with Patricia Juliana Smith
In a jaded age surely you aren't going to ask
if the mind can have a separate existence
from the body, are you? Outmoded Cartesian.
And yet the collapse of mind into body has
resulted in "happiness pills" and recipes
for chemical and behavioral control. Spinoza
on a doza with the dust of a thousand ground
lenses infiltrating his lungs like gypsy moths
do the summer trees. These doses may help some.
Many claim they are helped and feel better.
Who will quibble? But, meanwhile the pages of
Brave New World and 1984 and other dystopian
literature flutter in the wind, ominously.
"Be of good cheer. Sadness is a sin." At the
very least, undesirable. Rational self-interest
or the utilitarian control of the psyche?
To what ends? You can do it with drugs. You
can do it with mantras. In the mirror. Every
day in every way I'm thinking positively. The
power of positive thinking or thinking about
power? Goodbye yesterday; hello tomorrow. Or
is it "Bye, Bye, love. Bye, Bye, happiness.
Hello loneliness. I think I'm a-gonna cry-y."
Still, we're future-bound and not a minute
to waste on the melancholy who refuse to take
medicine or "be happy, don't worry."

Hmmmm. A thunderhead rises with a rumble into
the evening sky, mushrooming second by second.
Perhaps an image of remote immanence. Sublime.
Gorgeous. By a certain overdetermined 
connection of ideas, the One of a Twosome in
the aftermath of a Division (call it a Fall,
tragic or happy, the beginning of strange
knowledge, or whatever else you'd like) is led
to recall moments of shared vision on a 
terrace--mornings, evenings. Now some
philosophers postulate the continuity of
memory is essential to the continued existence
of "you." (Who? Who? Who? That's an owl in the
trees. Sorry. Shhhhhh.) But, memory changes,
shapeshifs, even evaporates like this 
magnificent suspended expanding cloud. It 
passes into other states, invisible, unknowable.
And then? The One who remembers, the Other one,
becomes a jet-propelled movement of flaming
sorrow--all motivation, volition, desire--
passing through an unreasonable universe
(so much for Natural Law) looking for sparks
of illumination. I know. I know. Even that
sounds, well ... too grand.

Thunderhead. © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

"Every language game is based on words 'and 
objects' being recognized again." 

"Certain events would put me into a position
in which I could not go on with the old
language-game any further. In which I was
torn away from the sureness of the game."

"... it is not a kind of seeing on our part;
it is our acting, which lies at the bottom
of the language-game."

--Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty

Wrong Way © 2003 by María DeGuzmán
And when we are torn away from the sureness
of the game, time stops though events continue
unfolding, borne away, bearing us away to 
other spaces, times, cells dividing, 
multiplying, atoms splitting, fusing, infinitely.
And yet time stops, the Mirror inverse of
something like, "I promise you a timeless
constancy. I do. Remember? Remember?" You
left me standing here a long, long time ago,
and other lines of that sort. Lines of a 
language game that when felt and believed
is no longer a game but a situation of living
and dying and living on even so, in the wake
of promises.

Gnosis of the bridge © 2004 by María DeGuzmán
And so living on, undead, she vows to 
bridge the wake, the chasm, the abyss because 
she cannot do otherwise, because she carries a 
visceral memory of murmuring joy 
along with a visceral pain of absence 
radiating chills up and down her spine. 
Castaway, she walks out onto the bridge 
of a hundred years with her own vow 
of constancy, a constancy without strings attached 
though made of cables of corded steel. 
A constancy the wind can blow through. 
She whispers, "Hart! Hart! Where are you?" 
Below her, black waters. All around her,
a world broken into a trillion splinterings
of light, sequined crucible, intimations 
of Atlantis gleaming. Above her, the stars 
of memory and a heaven obscure as
the rushing telepathy of wires. A gust of air
catches her coat, her collar, 
the fuzzy seashells of her ears. 
She hears, she thinks she hears, 
"Under your shadow by the piers I wait. 
Only in darkness is my shadow clear."

Synchromos, or Affinity
© 2005 by María DeGuzmán
with the collaboration of Ishtar
And then an old dream took on new life ... 
Once, a long time ago, she had a dream. 
She found herself floating at the top 
of columns as if in a Baroque-Classical 
painting, for example, Aurora by Guercino, 
where you see the bottoms of cherub feet, 
where things are inverted even though 
they're right side up ... you know what 
I mean. And someone, a Voice, 
was whispering in her ear and asking her 
if she wanted to go down ... descend into 
the world and ... well ... what did
that amount to? ... be born ... have 
a life, I guess. So, there she was, 
hovering between a YES and a NO, 
a NO and a YES ... for what seemed like 
all eternity in a moment, you never can 
tell with dreams. And now here we are ... 
at the base of some actual columns, 
strong, thick, temporal constancies 
in the wind and the rain and the heat 
of the sun, colored shadows cast there, 
spellbound in the night, by undulations 
of light from the giant floods, colossal 
candle lumens, making an altar out 
of evening fallen. Two shades more than 
shadows; green-hued auras, intermixtures 
of yellow light and a cobalt-black night. 

Formations © 2005 by María DeGuzmán
Descent into the world ... . Someone predicted, 
"You'll be working on a structure for a time"--
a structure or more like a formation with--ha!--
a life, many lives, of its own beyond whatever
craft is worked upon it. She looks out at that
landscape. A strange one. No doubt about it. 
Unanticipated. Unintended. Or so it seemed. She's
landed on the moon or Mars or some moon-Mars
hoping to find a habitable Venus ... the earth
before the terminal effects of war and global
warming or something like that. Astronauts must
be farmers, haven't you heard? Farmers to turn
the Martian desert into the paradise we never
produced on the blue planet, dearly beloved and
forgotten again and again in the blink of an eye.
Well, no matter, here she is (on earth, in this
our world) whether she wills it or not. Oh, in 
fact, here we are, wondering who we are in this
ancient new landscape where things stand out
starkly and we may wish that angels would do our
work and elucidate our deepest motives like so
many tactile points of view ...

"My soul has lost possibility.Were I to wish for anything I would not wish for wealth and power, but for the passion of the possible, that eye which everywhere, ever young, ever burning, sees possibility. Pleasure disappoints, not possibility." --Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

"Imagine a whole lifetime of dreams and ambitions and hopes dissolving away in one instant, being blacked out like some arithmetic problem washed off a blackboard by a wet sponge, just some little accident ... ."

-- Tennessee Williams, Sweet Bird of Youth


Crossroads © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

"Fidelity gave a unity to lives that would otherwise
splinter into thousands of split-second impressions." --
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Face on Your Shoulder: Anamorphosis © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

Nomadism, atopia, serialization, freedom, dispersal, shape-shifting, the powers of the false (hey, what happened to false consciousness and its agent, fashion?), the transformation of perception, psychedelic cognition.

Yeah? Maybe? Maybe not?


Pieces of the Puzzle © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

All the pieces are in place except for Hex and Why,
two characters out of an unfinished mystery novel
in which past-life narratives take over
the protagonists, narratives sensed obliquely
in the form of hunches, dreams, amd premonitions.
Or was it merely instrumental rationality
that unhitched Hex from Why?

Y © 2004 by María DeGuzmán According to instrumental rationality, everything has a value and, above all, a use, a usefulness to the evaluating eye. When faced with a dilemma, this is how you choose between A and B or Y and Z, though no reason to suppose those variables need to be represented by contiguous letters. Then again, is this a wall? And what happens to all those walled off memories, expectations, attachments? Do these become dis-integrated pieces, sharp-edged fragments? Rubble, brittle and brash?

The Looking Glass Meets the Rabbit Warren Effect

This page is an electronic rhizome, a plane of immanence, a glowing horizontal interactivity of elements with opportunities to take an illusory plunge beneath the mirrored surfaces.

Some of the visual images are also links to relevant theory and practice or to popular song lyrics.

Try your luck.

All-purpose research tools for the Humanities:





Reality fantasy, or
fake it to make it (gracias, EC)
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán 

JUBILEE ARTS is now THE PUBLIC, Birmingham, England
promoting socially engaged public art exploring
homelessness, questions of internet access, etc.
"Dreamers, thinkers, doers, lookers"--

"Developing Forms of Democratic Evaluation"
article by Roz Hall, UK

Those beguiling eyes will 
always contain a question about 
a sense of an ending, 
like double question marks,
like hovering fish hooks luring one on...

Here's looking at you, kid, or
throw me a life (line) 
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán


"Romanticism. Idealism. Believing in ARGO [¿was that ARGUS?]... or Alguien, Someone, written in big capital letters." --From Puppet by Margarita Cota-Cárdenas

Persona: the I 
one chooses to remember
or this is not an eye
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

I was at a party the other night and someone
said, "Hey, did you know there was this 
nineteenth-century tradition of wearing
the eye of your beloved on your lapel
in the form of a combination pin-and-locket?
Behind the eye, inside the locket, would be
a miniature portrait of your loved one."

And someone else replied, "The eye of love;
not the evil eye."

Now we all know the the future cannot be divorced from the past, nor the past from the future and that both are resistant to our deepest dreams and desires for wish-fulfillment. They cannot be divorced, but the time is nevertheless out of joint and suffused with the shock of being out of joint, verging on something other than where you are now. You wake up each day or night (depending on your shift) with the pressure of both the past and the future on your fluttering eyelids--usted sabe, ese peso, esa presión, sobre los párpados. And in that moment of coming up out of the dream-- and here I mean a dream of being in the remembered arms of someone who has left you (deliberately or accidentally) or being within reach of something you wanted and never got or lost--well, you know how it is, don't you, that sinking, sickening feeling because your geophysical and psychic time-spaces have broken apart, are dis-integrated, and you say to yourself, no you just feel these words: I don't get it. No entiendo. And you long for an understanding with a live person who is as good as dead. And you are, therefore, haunted by the past body, soul, and spirit of one who is still alive and yet to whom you are dead. And you are now yourself both living and dead, a revenant. But, revenant or not, you must rise from your bed anyway, if you can, and go out into the world, walk the face of this planet spinning in space. Spining, spinning, spinning faster and faster around the sun (new evidence shows), and labor in the world and also labor so that you can work with some satisfaction--increasingly difficult with growing poverty levels, oxygen restriction, and dwindling water tables or too much water but not a drop safe to drink (to name just a few challenges facing the majority of us now and in the future).

Too much water, too little water, looking for the living water, take me to the river and drop me in the water. Orlando has sunk far beneath the present moment. But when Orlando sinks far beneath the present moment, her eyes fill with fathomless tears, and these are the measure of how far she has sunk beneath the present moment and is haunted by time past as she prospects for an absent presence.


or Camera Query in action:
"Attributing the Substance
of Collaboration as
Michael Field"  February 28, 2004
at the University of Delaware

La foto de la mañana no salió, instantáneas fugaces, Rita Martin's relatos and Wittgenstein's Remarks on Colour at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, March 18, 2004

Temple of Thought © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

"The Photographic Thought of Latina/o Literature" at the University of Texas, San Antonio, April 1, 2004

"Bending la luz: Queer Latina/o Tales of Photography," at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, Alumni Hall, Highsmith University Union, 8:00 PM, October 13, 2004.

"The Pre/Post-Enlightenment Visuality of Djuna Barnes's Nightwood" at the Modernist Studies Association Conference, Other Modernisms/Modernism's Others, Vancouver, British Columbia, October 21-24, 2004

"Queering the Visual and Latinidad(es): Text as Imagined Photo and the Forensic Facultad
of Cultural Critique and Construction" at "InterseXions: Queer Visual Culture at the Crossroads," CLAGS, Nov. 12-13, 2004. Nightwood Series at the "Gender Difference & Cultural Resistance" GLBTQ Conference 2005, University of North Carolina at Asheville, April 2, 2005

"The Photographic Thought of Latina/o Literature and Cultural Critique" at "Elective Affinities: 7th International Conference on Word & Image Studies," University of Pennsylvania, September 23-27, 2005. Affinities.

Portion of "The Pre/Post- Enlightenment Visuality of Djuna Barnes's Nightwood" on the panel "Style and Substance III" at the December 2005 Modern Language Association, Washington, DC, Friday December 30, 2005.

"Angel Spittle and Ejected Vision of the Periphery: Latina/o Writers' Photo Stories or Off-Frame[d] Photography" at the 2006 College Art Association conference in Boston, MA, February 22 - 25, 2006.

"The Pre/Post-Enlightenment Visuality of Djuna Barnes's Nightwood (1936)," Wed. March 22, 2006, 4:30-6:00 PM, Bingham 103, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Afro-Latino Critique of Enwhitened Idealism: Miguel Algarín's 'Nuyorican Angels' of Night," Lillian Furst Lecture Series, Friday October 6, 2006, 4:00- 5:30 PM, Toy Lounge, Dey Hall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Visualizing the Noir of Night in Lucha Corpi's Detective Novels," for the session "Visual Culture and Chicana/o Literature," 2006 MLA convention, Philadelphia, PA, December 29, 2006.

"Afro-Latino Critique of a Kantian Enwhitened Idealism: Miguel Algarín's 'Nuyorican Angels' of Night," for the session "Troubling the Waters: Homoeroticism and the Politics of Identity in Black Visual Culture," CAA convention, New York City, February 16, 2007.

Lecture on Julio Cortázar's "Babas del diablo," Antonioni's film Blow Up, and Latina/o Writers' Photo Stories, Davidson College, North Carolina, February 28, 2007.

"Story as Polarizing Filter of Cultural Critique in Achy Obejas's 'Polaroids,'" on the panel "The Violence of the Photographic Image and Its Legacies 30 Years After Susan Sontag's On Photography," at NeMLA, Baltimore, Maryland, March 3, 2007.

Photo-text presentation on SPIR and Camera Query at Elin Slavick's course on conceptual photography, UNC-Chapel Hill, March 22, 2007.

2008 Presentations by Camera Query

"The Transport of Minikins, or Towards a Queer Phenomenology" about recent photography work with minikins, Fall 2008 at UNC - Chapel Hill, for the LGBTQ Center, 12:30 - 1:30 PM, Student Union Room 2518 B, Pit Level, Union South

Tuesday October 21, 2008


2009 Presentations by Camera Query

"The Transport of Minikins" at the 16th Annual Lavender Languages & Linguistics Conference, February 13 - 15, 2009, American University, Washington, DC.

Also, you can find work by Camera Query in the Bailout Biennial Show at Golden Belt Arts, Durham, NC, January 15 - March 15, 2009

Golden Belt Arts:


2010 Presentations by Camera Query

"Conceptual Photography: The Work of Camera Query in Relation to Psi," Friday February 26, 2010, Stedman Auditorium, Duke University Campus, for the Rhine Research Center, 7:30 PM.

Rhine Research Center:

"Bending a Rainbow Behind the Back: A Conversation with María DeGuzmán about her Photo Projects (including her latest conjunction of her photography and her own electronic music compositions)." Student Union. UNC - Chapel Hill. 7:00 PM on April 1, 2010.

Several of Camera Query's images will form part of the exhibition on Latina/o identities, identifications, and disidentifications entitled "Necessary Fictions" at Gallery 100, Golden Belt Arts, Durham, NC, May 21 - July 11, 2010.


Cadmus Prism

Cadmus Prism. © 2003 by María DeGuzmán, from Prismatic Prismatricks

And now we know, now we know ... that icebergs sing, great whales of ice. They sing ... under pressure.


Sitting on an iceflow, one's world oddly transparent, one's heart glacial as the polar caps melting under the eye to the sky in the ozone, while people run, walk, sit, stand, stare, looking for something when not merely surviving. And in the looking is the despair, isn't it? Because whatever it is you find is hardly what it seems, is hardly solid, but melting into air and water, and blood and sweat and tears. Tears blurring the signs there to guide you or confuse you or both. And, so now you close your eyes and you'd like to be done with secrets and signs, with shadows and light, with the cryptic and the clear, encoded emotions, but the next breath finds you looking again with a "useless" passion for a refraction, a bending of the light, in the heavy medium of concealment between us.


Mediating Obsolescence

Dead Media Project

Making Old Machines Speak

MirrorShades Postmodern Archive


Image and Text

Philosophy Research Base



Photography: A Mediatheoretical Approach


Visual Stories, Phototextuality, etc.

The Aesthetics of Audiovisual Stories



Visuality/Virtual Space/Remote Presence


The Cave (Plato, Plato, and more Plato)

Curating (on) the Web

Digital Salon

Franklin Furnace and Avant-Garde Art on the Internet


Half Machine

Mediamatic (On Paul Virilio and new technologies)

Virtual Reality Application Center



Visual Culture

Aesthetics and Visual Culture

Defining Visual Culture

Department of Visual Arts, UC San Diego

Strictly Film School

Visual Arts Glossary (Classical Antiquity to Postmodernity)

Visual Culture: Theory, Practice, Pedagogy

World Arts and Cultures Dictionary


Visualization & Cognition

Mental Imagery & Thought

Paranormal Optical Phenomena



Color Phenomena


Visión a ciegas (Blind vision), 
or life-game of statues
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán


Bomber or butterfly? 
Which shall it be?
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

One World España
Cultura contra la guerra
Take back the media



Rat and pig race 
while the world dries up ...panic!:
Under the sign of Mars
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán



Horns of a dilemma
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
in collaboration with José Ramirez



pass over with cursor
The Black Widow of the Red Bride
or the Apparition of the Opera
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
in collaboration with Yoko



pass over with cursor
Faustina, her assistant, and the devil:
to show thee what magic can perform
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
in collaboration with Theresa Hanson,
Corinne Blackmer, 
and Patricia Juliana Smith

sleight-of-hand light shows modes of lighting mirror tricks hypnotic words operatics grandiloquence playing with fire you know, the (un)usual stuff

Totem/Taboo: We have tigers, too © 2004 by María DeGuzmán, from Silence and the Power of the Eye
"'What do you feel? What do you see? Marvellous things, I suppose? Extraordinary sights? Is it really beautiful? and really terrible? and really dangerous?'" --Charles Baudelaire, "The Theatre of Séraphin," Les Paradis artificiels (1860)

Projecting Magic © 2003 by María DeGuzmán in collaboration with Yoko From Conjure, Don't Tell
"Then had come Lord Henry Wotton with his
strange panegyric on youth, his terrible
warning of its brevity. That had stirred
him at the time, and now, as he stood
gazing at the shadow of his own loveliness,
the full reality of the description flashed
across him."

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

Okay, okay. Let's talk about the medium's
power to haunt and to deceive—
ghost images all. 
What does it mean to split the ghost
from the living body,
to contemplate a virtual presence
over a "real" one, 
to lose ourselves so
among the shapes, colors, and shades
that stimulate the retinal cones,
the optic nerves, but not
other nerve endings?
A curious sort of "nerve bible,"
wouldn't you say?

"You, a magician who delivers illusion, you trick me with double images. You're here, then you're gone."

-- From Gulf Dreams by Emma Pérez

"Some time later, if one can speak here of time
at all, it became clear that after death 
human thought lives on by momentum."

--Vladimir Nabokov, The Eye (1965)

"And though it is impossible that we should
recollect that we existed before the body--
since there cannot be any traces of this in
the body, and eternity can neither be defined
by time nor have any relation to time--still, we
feel and know by experience that we are eternal.
For the mind feels those things that it conceives
in understanding no less than those it has in the
memory. For the eyes of the mind, by which it 
sees and observes things, are the demonstrations

Baruch Spinoza (Benedict de Spinoza), 
"Of Human Freedom," Book V of The Ethics

If this is so, then it is likely we shall meet again, if not here, then elsewhere ...

By momentum, and mourning. Not only that. By momentum and melancholia (joy turned inside out and upside down) that will not give up its incorporated ghost.

"I feel that strong emotion must leave its trace; 
and it is only a question of discovering how
we can get ourselves again attached to it, 
so that we shall be able to live our lives
through from the start."

--Virginia Woolf, "A Sketch of the Past" (1940)

Transportation © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Orphea began to travel. She went back to the places where she had once lived, existed—across the sea, far up and far down the Eastern seaboard, to islands in the sun, looking for she knew not what, for traces of Orphic joy,

Electrified © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

for traces of her past lives before the Wreckage traversed, double-crossed, her like neutrinos from outer space, collapsing distinctions between inner and outer.

Inside Out: Transparent People
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán
With the collaboration of Margarita Estevez Abe

Interiority, depth, refuge, shelter had been a stunningly beautiful hologram, complete with tactile sensations of warmth and safety and, above all, the intermediacy of eternal time within the often ruthless riptide of ephemerality.

Empty chair © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Despite what the poets have written, not all ephemerality is as gently evanescent as rainbowed soap bubbles in early modern paintings. Some ephemerality, transitoriness, impermanence, leaves a lightning bolt scar in the skin of the soul, a black abyss in each eye

Reflections in a hazel eye © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

from which there's no turning back, though the need to turn back is overwhelming. And turning back Orphea did—to those spaces where once she knew bliss untinged by the bitterness of mortal loss that now sent her wandering, restlessly. What did she hope to find? What could she possibly discover years later? A way to open a door that was closed forever?

Duplex Squared © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

A way back into lost time? A time that would not return? What was at stake in this desire for return? Of course, she could return to places. They were still there. They offered her things to touch, smell, taste, hear, and see with her fleshly eyes. But, the space-times she had known (and for which she longed with the desperation of the terminally ill unreconciled to their condition) flashed before her, transparent moments, turning her into a ghost walking through her own life collapsing in on itself. For the strangest effect of all was how pieces of the past became so very present, three dimensional and more, and the future foreclosed into the no longer possible--and she no longer knew where she was or why. She who had always had such a sense of purpose; destiny. She saw her other half clinging on to something called "desire" and something else called "humor." She saw that these were a creed, almost a dogma and certainly a mantra for some, and she understood these as elements in a formula for converting pain into pleasure in a world tilting madly on its axis.

Point of departure © 2003 by María DeGuzmán


Nocturnorama from Cities of Electric Desire © 2003 by María DeGuzmán

Lone Light after Gaslight
© 2003 by María DeGuzmán

pass over with cursor

Hey, have you ever been gaslighted?
After that you may derive consolation
from the movements of clouds
across the sky, ah the big sky
as the singer sings, and the drum
still beating in your chest ...

Red sky at mo(u)rning
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán
with the collaboration of Yoko

Left, creating illusions. A car sped away. She could see it in her mind's eye. Over and over. Speeding away. Miles of highway. Miles and miles and miles. The hub caps spinning in the sun, the rain, the dirt, the wind. Oh, the wind, whistling, whistling in the old hub caps. The landscape changing, growing ever more flat. Flatland. And she was left behind to inhabit a lost world. No, it inhabited her. It lived and breathed and had its remaining existence in her. A world of ghostly shapes flaring up in the night. A world of pyrotechnic color draining itself away. In the night, as she looked out through the glass of whatever window opened onto the darkness. And what was it that she saw? Maybe there wasn't anything to see. The hint of a face or eyes or a gesture committed to memory. What remained of what had been committed to memory. Committed to memory. No, not even that. Just the smallest of gestures, a breathing, a dark presence beside her. A presence that once upon a time had filled the space beside her, the empty air full of dust motes and infinity. That space was now irrevocably crossed by absence just as she always feared it would be, just as she always feared, Cassie, Cassie, Cassandra. And she wondered where all the streets went, all the streets of all the cities and towns they had ever walked down together—Albany, Ann Arbor, Assisi, Austin, Avila, Baltimore, Barcelona, Binghampton, Birmingham, Bologna, Boston, Brighton, Bristol, Buffalo, Buxton, Cambridge, Charleston, South Carolina, Charleston, West Virginia, Chester, Chicago, Detroit, Florence, Gloucester, Hanover, Indianapolis, Ithaca, Kansas City, Liverpool, London, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Madison, Madrid, Minneapolis, Montreal, Nashville, New Haven, New Orleans, Newport, Newport News, New York, Norfolk, Oakland, Palma, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Raleigh, Rimini, Rockport, Rome, Salem, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Segovia, St. Paul, Toledo, Toronto, Tucson,Wilmington, Washington, D.C., and on, and on, and on. Where did all the streets go, the sights, the sounds, the stories they told each other ...?

Stroll on the Planes
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán
from Prismatic Prismatricks

"...there is about Sorrow an intense, an extraordinary reality." --
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis (1905)
"Her influence is over you, though
she have no existence but in that momentary
image. ... You stand in the sunny
rain of a summer shower, and 
wander among the sunny trees
of an autumnal wood, and look upward
at the brightest of all rainbows ... ."

--Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Haunted Mind"

Have you ever been granted reprieve by an influence, by a suggestion? I think you have.
An angel of joy came and went and shifted
something inside. A definite change had taken
place, though exactly why or what for remained 
to be seen. Have you ever been a prisoner
condemned to an inside you just could not
escape, a bird in a cage of relentless bars?
You, flying against them over and over, expecting
that this time surely you would fly the coop?
A surprising joy had split her into 
prisoner and escapee; it was remarkable. 
Remarkable while it lasted—-to be inside
and outside at once. To be a songbird, prisoner
of her own sorrow; liberated captive of that
alien joy. Schrödinger's cat; Heisenberg's
principle of uncertainty, a particle oscillating
between two places at once, in neither and both.
And now? What was it? She missed the angel
intensely. She oriented herself by her absence--
compass without magnetic north, clock without
hands. The angel of joy had come and gone.
Meanwhile, she (not the angel) had ceased to
bat her wings, ceased to spring, ceased to
oscillate, or so it seemed to the casual 
observer. She was arriving to a still place.
She bowed her head. This place was not
resignation, nor was it despair. It was an 
elsewhere. She wondered if she had ever been
here, there before—-this place of no there
there, like the world behind Cocteau's mirror. 
She opened then lowered her eyes into 
a world of senseless beauty while the bombs 
went off--bursting in the air, bursting 
in the ventricles of the heart.

Bowed © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

"Every angel is terrible. And yet, alas,
I welcome you, almost fatal birds of the soul,
knowing about you." --

From "The Second Elegy," in 
Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies (1922)

Of wings, sails, and the ghost of bridges burned
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán

"Veronica's Veil," or Here Comes the Rain Again with the collaboration of Anon Emos © 2004 by María DeGuzmán
Failure and mea culpa. And yet here comes
the assuaging veil, over and over again
in the nick of time. The sun, the moon,
the stars [this sounds as if from another
century and those stars burned out long
ago], a cooling breeze, a steaming
cauldron of water, an extended hand,
an embrace, a glance scintillating with
recognition, a will to remember into
the future and not give over and not 
give up. Sometimes you can literally
feel this veil pass over your face, It
is sufficient to catch you when
you're falling and carry you from
moment to moment, except that you are
heavy, so heavy with the weight of 
gravity and time and illusions.


Dutch Remastered
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán
S/he is on the other side of the mirror. 
It is dark. It is almost pitch black in 
here. We are waiting. We are at the theater
where we mobilize darkness and night,
except that they have already been
mobilized, haven't they and with 
infrared and x-ray vision? But, back
to the theater, to the black box. That's
where we are now. If you are having
trouble imagining it, just close your
eyes. "I love the theater, but I do
not want to be in the Theater," s/he
whispered to the person next to her, to
the person on the other end of the line.
S/he tapped Morse code made plain but
in a coded way to the person at the
other end of the fiber optic cables on
another keyboard, or perhaps to no one.
Nobody. Rapping to those angels s/he
keeps talking about. Goodness, you'd
think s/he'd be done with them by now.
Didn't they, after all, fly away? Fly
away. Bye, bye. When s/he spoke lines,
s/he wanted most of them to be genuine,
though some, admittedly, were said for
effect, and some of them had incalculable
and unintended effects. Broken syntax.
A discourse of riddles dragged from the
deep. The Theater is always dangerous.
An experiment with a chemistry set. It 
could go wrong. It could blow up in your face. 
Panic! Theater on fire--like so many of them
in the past. S/he'd become its restless
phantom; she wanted to be, not to
appear. And s/he was tired, very tired.
Tired of all the roles and scripts,
predictable scripts. From the rafters
forty black suns shone down. Black
suns. They illuminated but did not warm.
The very definition of lucidity? Of being
stripped of one's illusions? Time to
curtain-call for re-enchantment, on the
double! It is cold in here. Cold. 
S/he was beginning to feel remote.

Undone © 2004 by María DeGuzmán

Remote and removed, and yet the bare floor pushes up against her heels. Yes, her feet are on the ground, on the stage. We are here and someone is tempted to abjure words altogether, words and perhaps images as well. Like Prospero throwing down his books and his magic sticks (stolen from Caliban) and whatever else he had up his sleeve. And how then will we communicate? Speaking of sleeves, that brings us to arms. Oh, not the kind you fire off, not the kind you deal under the table, unless we twist the metaphor one more notch and arrive at the sale of persons taking place at this very moment. Hold that thought. Look over here. Here. Someone is rolling up a sleeve. Someone is searching for the crook of an arm to lay a finger on a pulse and touch a vital sign. Touch a vital sign. Touch. A vital sign. Blind, silent touch. We've lost touch in this Theater, theater of cruelty and the absurd. We have, you know. S/he sits down on the ground. S/he puts her head in her hands. S/he drifts off into something like sleep. Semi-consciousness.

Prophylactic Blues © 2004 by María DeGuzmán S/he dreams of IV machines. They are jostling down a corridor, by themselves, in clusters, in groups--the bags and tubing swaying against the metal frames, the bags filled with liquids of various diaphanous colors. The IVs are whizzing past the rooms with people lying in beds as if lying in state. Someone begins to sing near her, almost in her ear and under her breath as s/he gazes after the rolling, thronging machines. Singing softly, "intravenous direct connect."
Welcome to "the psychedelic diorama of ghosts":
"someone punctures Santa Sebastiana, someone forces Marilyn to swallow those pills, someone injects Billie with heroin, y me atraviesan con esos rayos invisibles e inodoros, someone lights the fire under Juanita de Arco ... ." -- Francisco Ibañez-Carrasco, Flesh Wounds and Purple Flowers (2001)

"Coincidence of Destiny"
© 2004 by María DeGuzmán

Wild West Palimpsest
© 2005 by María DeGuzmán
Consumer culture as legislating desire machine. 
You must desire this and this and that. But, do 
you? There was no thing she desired. No thing 
like someone. Nothing. And someone. Someone amid 
this nothing. And, so, do you find yourself 
paralyzed, surrounded by "disreality" (RB), 
unreality that has lost its delirious 
fascination? That holds no fascination save for 
the power to fix you in place--without a dream 
to warm you, no body's luminous beauty beside 
you? "The world plays at living behind 
a glass partition" (RB). You endure absence,
surviving diminished, fatigued, breathing 
faint and low. Not yet numb, no. Amputated 
instead. One half of you the magician; 
the other half the assistant. Rolled, roled, 
into one--disenchanted, sawed in half, 
part of you projected against the evening sky, 
black veil of Maya cut into a shape, cast there 
by a network with the force of karma, 
tragic once, farcical twice. 

The Pig King's Vision
© 2005 by María DeGuzmán