Through ambiguity to seeing more clearly

An Image Without Meaning

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;
  • entertain;
  • please;
  • frustrate.

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.


1 thought on “Through ambiguity to seeing more clearly

  1. Pingback: Semiotics and the ‘Textbook’ Project | Stan's Creative Space – 'Body of Work'

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