Spring Ulmer’s The Age of Virtual Reproduction disrupts and redefines established patterns of seeing as she looks both at and beyond suffering and slaughter for an ethical way to live. Relentlessly in relation and in isolation, Ulmer meditates on moral and emotional anesthesia – our age of numbing. On the road in Rwanda, investigating executions, meditating on photographs of the past, Ulmer interrogates her own and others’ often romantic obsession with what is disappearing and asks how to be in touch with the real and reality – either through the self or through its loss. Looking at work by August Sander, Walter Benjamin, Congolese painter Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, John Berger, William Gedney, Jean Genet, Kenzaburo Oe, Wim Wenders and others, she finds, with Benjamin, that there is no cultural document that is not at the same time a record of barbarism. The Age of Virtual Reproduction offers a catalogue (of people, stories, nature, and art) that maintains that more than just surviving, life can be overwhelmingly and beautifully patterned, and thus, critically, recognizable.
 
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Essay Press is pleased to announce the two winners of the 2016 Essay Press Open Book Contest judged by Carla Harryman: Litany for the Long Moment by Mary-Kim Arnold and Of Sphere by Karla Kelsey, which will be published in Fall 2017.