Eliza Steinbock
On Affective Exchange in Portraiture: To Follow J. Jackie Baier into the Photographic Dissolve
– How to Do Things with Affects: Affective Operations in Art, Literature, and New Media
Book Chapter 2019


Filmmaker and photographer J. Jackie Baier stated in an interview that she ‘follows the protagonist, always.’ Her portraiture projects begin with establishing a collaborative relationship through and in the camera. The result is often the black and white grainy aesthetic of night photography, which captures someone barely emerging in the mist of the night, on the prowl. In my following of Jackie into the photographic dissolve, I contend that affect’s analysis—there, at the point of indication—involves at least one subject that participates in the affective exchange, and also I argue that affect is a virtual force with the potential to be activated. The exchange of affect in portraiture as I analyze it here is 1) between Jackie the portraitist and her muses, 2) between those muses’s bodies forming in her portrayals and the viewer, but also 3) between the re- searcher and the protagonists of my research portraits. I propose that Jackie Baier’s dedicated aesthetic of following her trans feminine muses—in the documentary film JULIA, and photographs of REAL COOL TIME, and the Royal Project—activate the affec- tive operations of interest and love to capture individuation on the brink of dissolve.

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