Tuesday, August 23, 2005

More On Photography

If the meaning is all in the motion and the individual frame's significance is compromised without the frames that preceded or followed it then what of the whole practice of still photography?

As the film is stopped and the individual frame shown, so the meaning of movement is replaced by a density of detail. Where it not for the "revelation" of this normally non-visible detail (Muybridge's horse with its four hooves aloft) the evaporation of meaning would be apparent, but the detail helps to disguises the void. This disguise though is only fleeting and the expanding chasm of emptiness that is inherent in photography functions something like a black hole sucking implication and association towards it as a cover for its nakedness. This makes photography an ideal coat hanger for context.

One thinks of those Taschen books of iconic photographs of the 20th century all apparently pregnant with meaning but in reality merely supports or fronts for content. A content which in large part the viewer supplies. This is less about a reading of the image than a writing of it. Here there is some overlap with the Barthes view of the constructs (social and otherwise) around photography particularly in press photography. However Barthes's view of photography as a perfect analogon ("certainly the image is not reality but at least it is its perfect analogon" from the Photographic Message) fails to appreciate that the "qualities " of the photograph arise not from it being an analogon but the exact opposite, the antitheses of normal vision.

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