iconoclastic polemics

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One way of beginning to look at images is to start from the commonplace understanding of images in academia. Images are understood as a kind of language, but instead of providing a transparent window on the world are now regarded as the sort of sign (a pictorial sign) that presents deceptive appearances of naturalness and transparence concealing an opaque, distorting mechanism of representation. That distortion is often understood as a process of ideological mystification.

S2artHarbourtown.jpg s2art, Harbourtown, Melbourne Victoria Australia, 2009

I say academia because many would still assume that photography provides a transparent window on the world--it is a natural sign rather than a conventional one. Photography, unlike traditional aboriginal painting, does not employ a vocabulary or language of conventional pictorial representation. So it does not need to be re-translated by those with special skills and training (not everyone has these) to yield up its information.

This is the traditional view. Photographs just look like the world. We can see what a picture is of without having to learn any pictorial codes.

'Like' here is understood as resemblance: photos are like or resemble the things they depict or represent.

The notion of the image as a natural sign is the fetish or, following Nietzsche, the idol of western culture, and it is contrasted with the false idols of non-western art with their stylized or conventions of pictorial representation. Photographs, however, work by customs and convention, are imperfect and riddled with error.

How are we to read s2arrs Harbortown. Does the title mean anything? Does it give us clues about the meaning of the picture. Is it about arrows? Is the photo a snapshot of a carpark? Is it about the formal qualities of the photo? Is it a comment on modernism? Is it a comment on the state of photography today, given that the tags say lo fi, low res mophone. Is it a social comment--eg., carparks are places for lost souls. Is it a comment about linear perspective that is seen as natural ever since the Renaissance?


Can I say it's about all those things, and more? The time and date information forms part of this image's title and is my way of making a comment about the technology [phone-camera], and it's pervasiveness, along with ideas about, the publishing of and distribution of images.

Ultimately I also am exploring notions of movement and time.

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This page contains a single entry by Gary Sauer-Thompson published on April 29, 2009 10:24 PM.

Picture Of The Week was the previous entry in this blog.

photographic puzzles is the next entry in this blog.

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