PHO702: Week 2 The Index and the Icon

Week 2 Webinar: Seeing / Taking / Making

I’m a day late arriving here as the Webinar took place yesterday. 

As I am overtaken and had barely just begun image making, I was only able to respond verbally in the Webinar. However, as I said elsewhere I put down my books and did some initial image making that has now been posted and sent out as well. Having comprehensively discussed my practice and the theories we have learned I now detect a level of repetition, well at least in terms of the seemingly retrospective nature of the task.

Now I am able to refer to my Development Project as written up here.

Week 2 Activity: Further Questions of Authenticity

Week 2 Activity: Further Questions of Authenticity

My own position on really real is an interesting one in terms of the course and the other students. Given the dichotomy and the way moral views polarise for and against manipulation, I have to say I understand the argument yet, at the same time feel an immunity. 

This is me yet again, on a trajectory from post processing in digital where I worked with computer generated images before ever moving to DSLR camera work. I have principles to uphold that I take from being a professional in my main career work that I choose to impose. This is without reaction to other photographers who so often seem less sure of their position whilst they may wish to criticise my work – I don’t know. 

In my image work, it all starts with Authenticity and a subject I feel deeply involved in emotionally. So much so, that it calls for a break from time to time. The themes involved reach across the whole of my sentient life and an upbringing in another culture. My work uses metaphor and intentional levels of hidden meaning to represent a set of consist themes.

The work is Abstract Impressionism and Conceptual and the results take on different meanings for viewers. A parallel that is present that I try not to major on that serves to obfuscate would be the work of Clinical Photography and aspects of Biology pertaining to inheritance.

My pictures, I do try to make unique and whilst others work may be likened to mine the theme and the detail and so on can be discerned.

As always my work proceeds knowledge of theory such as that of Snyder and Allen, but I am open to ideas and especially if it helps validate my work. I’m more than happy to learn of their ideas and find them palatable from a perspective of Constructivism. I wonder where their works leads and I envisage a path that leads to Propaganda it’s recognition including in political and commercial areas the former I definitely would not wish to engage in.

So key points around vision, of the Fovia and the 150Hz jitter of the eye, and all of the lens based perspective etc, makes sense. So does the separation of subject from image  and if allowed how image transparency leads to suspended interpretation, a loss of cognitive meaning and dangers associated with accepting ideas as given.

I have two or three main readings I would reference at present in this area; (Barthes and Howard, 1980), (Sontag, 1977)and (Sturken and Cartwright, 2001).

And saying that I have gained some new perspectives on theory from (Barrett, 2010)and (Berger and Dyer, 2013).

As my work proceeds ahead of learning these theorists ideas, to some extent I have to retrospectively quote key points.

To make life simple, let me consider the one main idea at present. That would be that of Indexicality, that is described at present as a causal relationship. When I first learned of this 6 months back now, to me Indexicality was from Philosophy, a means of describing something in a way that was unique to it, in this case photography. For photography, this might be mechanical image making, light chemical processes and so on. Then from this the development of ideas of Studium and Punctum. This is all from Barthes (Barthes and Howard, 1980). The latter, Punctum as I interpreted it was missing from my early Close-up and Conceptual mix of photography. I had a moment where everything came together: persistent wounding of ancestors, minor trauma in our daily lives and rules of Biology for tracing back to specific others and then to the narratives of their lives. Their absence left gaps and now those gaps are filled. I make abstract images that create a genuine punctum and in my work I layer in a sense of landscape presence – the place we would have met, then as image further low key cultural reference to the use of tartan – as mode of dress, as uniform as symbol.

The peculiar nature of the photograph for me arises from the digital sensor being filtered to prevent IR detection, yet partial detection can be processed into a representation of glow that shows up in many of my images.

I decided to include in my Contextualisation of Practice Blog the requested completion of the Critical Review Development document.

Bibliography

Barrett, T. (2010) ‘Principles for Interpreting Photographs’, in Swinnen, J. and Deneulin, L. (eds) The Weight of Photography. Brussels, pp. 147–172.

Barthes, R. and Howard, R. (1980) Camera lucida: reflections on photography. London: Vintage.

Berger, J. and Dyer, G. (2013) Understanding a photograph. London: Penguin Classics.

Sontag, S. (1977) On Photography. Penguin Bo. Penguin Modern Classics.

Sturken, M. and Cartwright, L. (2001) practices of looking: an introduction to visual culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

Week 2 Presentation: Is it Really Real

Week 2 Presentation: Is it Really Real?

Reference reading and video 

[A] The importance of indexicality for photography.

[B] The iconic, indexical and symbolic characteristics of the photograph.

[C] How these ideas and visual practices inform your position on a presumed photographic veracity.

Within

[D] Do photographs hold more veracity than paintings?

[E] Which of these representations of Las Meninas do I find most authentic?

[F] Is this aesthetically/contextually specific?

[G] Why?

[D] Yes to a photographer photographs do hold more veracity

[E] If I consider myself a follower of Picasso and I would appear to be from my last assignment submission then of course I would be biased to Picasso’s representation as it allies to my practice of Abstract Impressionism.

[F] The context is side by side comparison on a monitor so both. There will be a loss of texture without the materiality

[G] I’m biased by my practise and preference as my work is often compared to art.

Baldwssari’s image looked like a scene of crime phot with the hand giving scale to a bullet

In my practice there are abstractions and imaginings. Colour a dominant red naturally fits with the theme. The layering always refers to landscape and doubles as a cultural representation of tartan even if sometimes vague or missing and if present low key in terms of presence.

Can I accept Snyder and Allen’s critique of the visual model of Icon creating truth and us learning to see as a camera? No, not exact agreement. We see as we see and we have learned how a camera represents. If we treat the photograph as transparent then we lose something of what is available to us and we have suspended belief. 

As for expecting the photograph to be iconic, then if it can be viewed as such it make our experience simple snd straightforward and require less interpretation.

In my practice my originally intended audience should get-it and yet still impose their own iconic interpretation, as I witnessed. The interpretation may diverge from the authors intent and even if  an author’s intent or titles guided interpretation. Right now the importance is how it affects the making as I am in early stage development.

  I leave it to the media and regulators to decide what is shown regarding the burning pilot.I guess you want to read the image as propaganda and make an interpretation, like we were as bad in the past, and yet hope the image might be constructed.

Transforming into a kind of painting is my natural intent. 

Subjective choices are addressed to the author of an image, but whether or not they are conscious of such choice is another matter. Personally, my trajectory took me along the path of image manipulation before using a DSLR camera. I do not suffer the same pains of many others of moral conscience and I am settled with this for as long as I do not make political point/propaganda.

In context there are guidances and rules, and sometimes laws and cultural aspects which the originator of the image should be professionally aware of by being given some briefing, and test perhaps but it is for the organising bodies or end supplier to determine for themselves. I am not responsible for them and their actions.

Indexicality is important for discussing photography. In releasing a shutter Indexicality is not necessarily in the mind of the photographer other than they might be making an image in a style they have seen and accepted in the past. Photographs originally constructed may serve as a model for another photographer to emulate. 

Technically, all photographs within reason are constructed – an image of a dark room looks dark so has no construction until the light level allows something to be discerned.

I construct in a way that retains trace, and from which saturation and flow are processed and then by layering I introduce a consistent theme like landscape (or tartan).

Regards the Mandarin spoken it is more opaque to me as I have not learned the language only some epistemological aspects of its construction.

I take Snyder and Allen’s comments as a positive assessment and particularly as this is conveyed in a scientific manner I am used to consuming. My work may have fallen down against the analysis and would have perhaps had to have stopped, if it were not for an authentic approach, I took in the creation of my abstract art images. I perhaps was aware of the moral dilemma many face in presenting work so have been guided by such interations.

The iconic, indexical, symbolic photograph is in a modern age the preserve of the critic who selects amongst the outcomes of media portrayal in the main.

I’m good over my practice, and I would never knowingly create propaganda and hope images I make are enjoyable to look at and allow the viewer to take from the work as much as they like from aesthetic thought layers of meaning if they stop awhile and look.

Week 2 Independent Reading Photography vision and Representation

As a strategy with the current reading (Snyder and Allen Neil Walsh, 1975) I decided to jot down rough notes, where these are not for the reader of this blog, serving as a means of distilling out some reminders of the content, to trigger discussion in a task that follows in Canvas VLE.

Independently reflect on:

[A] Any key ideas you agree or disagree with.

[B] Whether or not photography is a unique medium or if it has conventions it shares with other forms of representation.

27 pages 27 points

144 Naturalism

145 Painting versus Photography

146 As documentary are the photographs true

147 Surreal with nudes in a scene. Visual peculiarities reminds viewer s looking at a photograph. Physical reality versus not gaining perfection

148 Photography closely related to art but different to traditional art. [A]

149 similarity between camera and the eye. Lens characterisation

150 Choice of equipment and how image made. [A] if public take snaps maybe not aware, but photographer would be.

151 The equipment and position. Comment about accidental firing of image.[A] Wrote recently about accidental firing.

It is about light physics not the subject. Subjects do not contain images. [A] True of my practice.

152 Moment in time, staying still and one eye. 

The fovea and 150Hz – [A] Ah I wrote about this in module 1

Difficulty matching image to vision.

153 The rabbit duck figure. JM Cameron Alice Liddel photo taken below eye level.

154 Photo of rowing in lilies

155 JMC photo of Alice

156 Static dry goods image versus movement. Muybridges horse photo. We have learned to read fuzziness as movement. [A] With motion vision the spinning wheel appears to move backwards in video.

157 Maybe not hypnotic powers of the photographer. [A] sometimes a respectful and engaging personality is helpful.

From elsewhere photography akin to poetry or more so, music as a slice from a continuum.

Portrait and Landscape artists I’ve seen in action, painting, use tablet / iPad photographs as a reference to perspective or to recall elements that moving into and out of the scene etc.

P158 Photo finish camera

P159 ibid a trick photo also IR colour allocation so question of truth [B] not sure painting would be like this at all though not impossible if artist referenced the camera

P160 Exposure on face is correct but second person in the blacks

P161 ibid then for shaded face [B] a unique limitation of basic photography partly solved by exposure bracketing  

P162 Rules for exposure [A] probably true for video as photography, but an artist could paint the perfect picture.

P163 Constraints [A] burdensome and strict.

Search for universal theory like Szarkowski instead show overlaps and difference between presentation in each medium. 

P164 [A] The Kodak clinical photography manual ought to be a parallels to my practice.

Also see clinical photography guide (Nayler, Jeremy (Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street, Hospital for Children NHS Trust, 2003)

P165 [A] What is acceptable for taking photographs varies for acceptable results and that varies. James Dean at Cal’s grave demonstrates a number a wide number of critical approaches can be made.

P166 Photographer (Stock) probably had an idea of how he wanted to photograph Dean[A]

P167 Previsualisation must have taken place and the photographer known what kind of image to make. The scene is not one you would encounter normally in real life. [A] According to Barthes is the image appears contrived it loses effect. (Barthes and Howard, 1980)

P168 The photograph can be assessed on its own or in relation to other photographs, its subject matter and conventions it shares. [A] The contrast may bring out more meaning.

P169 Arnheim The documentary value of a photograph is not just determined Authenticity – Correctness – Truth. We should ask, who made it, what it means [A]

Bibliography

Barthes, R. and Howard, R. (1980) Camera lucida: reflections on photography. London: Vintage.

Nayler, Jeremy (Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street, Hospital for Children NHS Trust, L. (2003) Clinical Photography: A Guide for the ClinicianClinical Photography: A Guide for the Clinician. JnPostgrad Med. 2003. Available at: http://www.jpgmonline.com/text.asp?2003/49/3/256/1145 (Accessed: 8 February 2019).

Snyder, J. and Allen Neil Walsh (1975) ‘Photography, Vision and Representation’, Critical Inquiry. Available at: https://falmouthflexible.instructure.com/courses/202/files/37216/download?wrap=1.


Week 2 Module Leader Session – Alumni

One presentation I saw was of portraiture with mask then as face markings then another presentation was of photograms of bee material as a contact method. From these if it is possible to follow we arrive at body contact/impression.

I attended the latter part, and watched the earlier part as a recording, such were the demands on my time (and still growing state of organisation). I comment on the work of the two Alumni who actually attended and presented rather than the three invited who didn’t all make it.

In two areas I’ve learned. The second first were the ideas around CRJ. I really get the necessity and have tried hard to improve structure of my own CRJ. Time permitting I still have to go back and read the alumni blogs which I will have previously read as I did this when locked out of the very start of my course. However, no excuses, I still have to relook at their CRJs. I can tell my needs concern some kind of workshop on the mechanisms available in WordPress. The Lynda.com resource we have has helped but I have no time for full immersion on aspects relating to web design.

in terms of the first aspect covered the actual projects self portrait and photograms, I gained something from both.

The former started as mask then moved on to painted marks in face, In my abstract practice I photograph bodily healing and minot trauma as such provides a place for the eye to rest. However, in the absence of trauma I can still photograph for bodily glow. At this point I changed concept to the metaphor for early photography. I had rested against something and it left a trace upon my body, this being read as metaphor for photography. It was still showing life’s glow, an after image of the object. This is my response to the marks placed upon the self portraits.

For the photogram, I find it quite indexical of photography and again my capture of after glow and the trace of the item making the mark is analogous to the placement of bee related objects on photo paper.

One the one hand this seems fanciful but does open a line of endeavour from my bodily parallel to photography. Metaphor and analogy are strong themes in my world.

Week 2 Forum: A Question of Authenticity

In Camera Lucida (1980: 89) Roland Barthes states that ‘In the Photograph, the power of authentication exceeds the power of representation’.

The question at first is telling but not necessarily too complicated to address and here we are reading this in the context of a semi-nude construction of a centaur and that has been devised to sway the discussion, surely.

So, given the photograph contains a trace of what was present (and perhaps is now from a philosophical standpoint is now dead), the photograph could without cognitive effort be taken at face value for what it is. This of course can be one the one hand a simple loss to the viewer who losses the opportunity to engage. On the other hand photographs used as political instrument of bias might simply be accepted as true.

Post modernists might take the modernist approach of Barthes as seen in other photographers work and use it as a springboard to make a post modernist point and this could be agreement but expressed as a montage or collage or as the example of Witkin the Centaur.

Authentication means there was scope when the photograph was made for the artist to give a modernist representation of what existed before the camera and no framing adjustments or lens distortions were used to deliberately mislead. It wouldn’t stop this happening in the reading by the viewer as that depends on what they bring, their culture and the time in which the photograph was read.

Representation, I used to see as the photograph being a most perfect portrayal or the best that could readily be obtained as a likeness to truth. Now I shift towards Barthes inferring that the image could be made in a way that is not the true thing we see but perhaps a metaphor for something else. Mapplethorpe’s flowers are about sensuality.

Any such photograph to which Barthes statement might naturally refer, and not the contrived one of the centaur placed in plain view of the question, we need to consider the context and then taking the centaur we cannot suspend belief. We know there is no centaur just separate images processed into one and no doubt taken at different times, so not a true photograph.

For my own practice it is highly metaphorical in intent and in presentation but still remain true to several key factors. An image in my portfolio is a trace. It does extract glow our eyes do not readily see and in doing so lifts colours. Sometimes shadow has a guiding effect in tonality in the end result and I have been known to control colour if consistency is required across a group or make separate groupings of like images.

Barthes

Week 2 Introduction: The Index and the Icon

Definition (and I’ll try not to reference using wikipedia in future): In semiotics, linguistics, anthropology and philosophy of language, indexicality is the phenomenon of a sign pointing to (or indexing) some object in the context in which it occurs. A sign that signifies indexically is called an index or, in philosophy, an indexical. Link

[A] What sort of ‘truth’ you think photography can / might offer.

[B] How this might differ from other forms of visual and written representations.

These musings relate to inqury [A] and [B] above.

From Berger (Berger, 2013) et al. Photography offers a truth insofar as the lens can capture the image. The subject and image are two entities. One writer Nadar wrote of Balzac’s “vague dread” of being photographed as it would detach and use up one layer of the body  (Sontag, 1977, p.158)

In the case of Barthes, (Barthes and Howard, no date)none of the photographs of his mother sufficed as acceptable representation except a single image of her as a child, in which that younger face showed a kindness that he remembered seeing in her as his mother. The image seemed heightened by the presence of the brother alongside and parents standing in the background as soon they were to divorce.

In my abstract practice, the photograph contains the trace and after work in the digital darkroom,  with post processing, the art retains the trace, unlike the painting where the association is less or non existent.

Photographs carry more credibility than other kinds of images and especially require interpretation (Barret, 2010)

Photojournalistic and I certain contexts (competition) wildlife (doing something) photography almost entirely relates to the truth, again insofar as the lens is able to represent it and the picture editor or judging panel are able to enforce their moral standpoints. 

For reel film, inspection of the contact sheet, will show a more complete scope so surrounding images corroborate the truth. National Geographic require their photographer to hand over the whole card from their camera. Newspapers require JPEG images as having greater tamperproof ability.

Contextual specificity was mentioned above for wildlife photographs entered into wildlife category  competitions.

[C] What sort of “truth” do you think photography can / might offer?

[D] Is this different to other forms of visual and written representations?

[E] Is this contextually specific?

[F] Ane any aspects of this important to your practice?

The following musings relate to inquiry [C] to [F] above.

Compared to a text, a photograph provides a representation and the meaning may alter according to the crop applied. A text or writing on the same subject may be limited in how much information is conveyed and would largely depend on the reader recreating a past like image in their mind. The photograph provides a new instance of such images and so is more capable of discerning a more exact feel for what existed. 

My practice relates contemporary images right back to the same genetic ancestors over a hundred years earlier and without ever having seen them. The truth here relates to a) ancestor and person being correctly linked to family line and b) their being a true birth parent linkage across the years given that where secret adoption or surrogate mother situation may have occurred for example, these would break the narrative bond. 

However, the process of identification across a century would still hold as strong an emotional bond, for me, and may vary by individual if they identify less with the past and have less concern for the future of their daughter and daughters sons – this relates to my reading of gentic connections.

Bibliography

Barret, T. (2010) ‘Principles for Interpreting Photographs’, in Swinnen, J. and Deneulin, L. (eds) The Weight of Photography. Brussels, pp. 147–172.

Barthes, R. and Howard, R. (no date) Camera lucida: reflections on photography. London: Vintage.

Berger, J. (2013) ‘Understanding a photograph’, in Berger, J. and Dyer, G. (eds) Understanding a photograph. London: Penguin Classics, pp. 17–21.

Sontag, S. (1977) On Photography. Penguin Bo. Penguin Modern Classics.

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