Image without meaning
I have reflected positively before in here about the ‘thinking with’ approach that appears in the module notes. The notes also encourage the use of a notebook in which to write regular thoughts and get rid of the “boring stream of consciousness” (which I have always done anyway). It also says “Please don’t put all the boring stuff on your blogs!”. Spoken from the heart of a tutor/assessor, I think.
A few weeks ago, I had one of those ‘stream of consciousness’ sessions; it came out of a ‘what the hell am I doing?’ moment; and I did grab a piece of paper and write on it – before stuffing it into the notebook and forgetting about it. Today, coincidentally, I took it out and re-read it a few moments after I had been re-reading Chapter 8 of ‘Visual Culture’’’ by Howells and Negreiros, for Contextual Studies. It’s a chapter on Photography and, amongst other things, it looks at the relationship between photography &reality and runs through the arguments around photography as art.
So, here, in summary, is what was in my notebook reflections from a few weeks ago:
What am I doing?
I am constructing images (maybe not photographs?).
My images may …
- attract attention;
- invite further investigation;
- provoke questions;
- encourage thought and speculation;
- seem to promise meaning and truth;
But, like all images (maybe) …
- lack substance;
- hold no answers;
- provide no solutions;
- be ‘unreal’;
- fail to satisfy.
Ambiguity – I am creating ambiguity.
There was more, but I’ll adhere to the module author’s request!
As I said, the Howells & Negreiros chapter looks at the photograph’s relationship with reality. Personally, I long since abandoned any notion that photography presents truth and/or reality; and I recognise the need to question the meaning and relevance of those two concepts – certainly to recognise that they are open to interpretation. However, the chapter does acknowledge that but argues, even accepting what I’ve just suggested, that photography does have a “special relationship” with reality. They suggest that the photograph manages to be an “… hallucination which is also a fact …”. That idea certainly is important and relevant – the potential for a photograph to be read as real, or as a representation of the real, or to seem/feel real when it isn’t; the possibility of knowing that it isn’t what it seems to be yet being drawn to look and read and take something from the process – even just speculation about intent or process.
So, I combine a dip into my own stream of consciousness with a spot of contextual reading and seem to feel that something significant has been distilled out of the process. I was right – I am creating ambiguity.