Sunday, January 08, 2006


A whole lotta babbling to do. This is what happens after one day devoid of human contact!

But wait! First, a utterly useless piece of information: Dave Barry's brother, Phil, lives in
Sunnyvale, California!

After spending half-a-day lazily scanning through books at the library, this is one which really left an impression:

by Philip Toledano

and this:

Kerry Skarbakka's series, "The Struggle to Right Oneself", Aperture's Summer 2005 issue.

BUT! The real bloody kicker of the day was the frenchie that terrorized me in Media Culture and Analysis class a year or so back. Simul-your-head-crum lah!

I picked up the book because my the smallish size of it looked easy to handle and I really was damn tired of all these enormous photo books with its sprawling photographs and immense waste of white space... but ya anyway... Luc Delahaye's
L'autre :

A series of photographs of unknowing people in the French subway. Because I lack European sensabilities, I failed to appreciate it. Till I read Baudrillard's essay hidden at the back.

It was titled "Poetic Transference of Situation", which of course in any typical circumstances would be enough academic gibberish to make me close the book and throw it away in horror, because we all know I only bother entertaining gibberish like this and this.

But ya, thanks to that class, I remembered that Mr Frenchie (and all academics lah) has this incurable illness that makes him believe his otherwise coherant and rather intelligent observations will not be understood by the mass population unless he dresses them up in as many unnecessary words as possible so as to make easy reading an impossibility.

Anyway, I very much enjoyed his critcism of contemporary photography, which he claimed to be afflicted with "the image virus". Serious bashing.

He thinks Delahaye's work signifies a reversal of sorts, where "It's no longer, 'Reply to my questions' but, 'Tell me what questions I am to ask you.'"

Which contains a "glimmer of a solution to the problem of our notorious 'lack of communication', to the problem of the non-response of the Other.'

He goes on to explain, that we impose "forced signification" on what we photograph in an attempt "to ward off the emptiness and fragility of exchange".

"Few photographs escape this forced signification. Few photographs do not short-circuit the otherness of the object - that minimal chance of an upsurgance of otherness - by forcing a signification upon it or, in other words, by mediating it through an idea of one sort or another - in particular, the ideas of objective reality and testimony or witness."

Ok, nevermind, no need to go into his whole thing about what is reality blahblahbla

He says what we do now is a very "moralizing photography" which is "unable to render the real... it presents only the shameful version of it", "an abusive representation of that which does not wish to be represented."

Wah. Kenna bash.

"Contemporary photograph, operating as it does in the name of forced signification, knows only how to capture banality... in the guise of testimony, the photograph has become a security video..."

More bashing!

"..raiders and predators who plunder customs and cultures, faces and landscapes that are really none of their concern. Having nothing to do with them, they don't even really see them. And those who are to view their images do so in the same distant offhanded manner."

The solution? Along the lines of Delahaye's work:

"Good photography, in this way, takes its leave of misfortune and the aesthetics of misfortune to reveal what is neither of the order of morality nor of 'objective' conditions but remains indecipherable within each of us.... it bears no witness to anything."

Well, he's not really saying anything that new regarding objectivity/reality, but at least he offered an alternative.


Lars said...

Seems to me that every comment on escaping forced signification is a wish for an objective reality. A dream or a nightmare. :-P

明扬四海 said...

interesting. does frenchie say anything about getting photographers to reveal where their biases lie?

Lars said...

I saw this photobook entitled "Things as they are". Brilliant..... The title that serves as a comment on how photojournalists view their profession. It's adhering to a way of looking at the world that was given up by science two hundred years ago. Every reference towards how things really are, is shit. You would have to have journalism as a profession to still be able to make sense saying that sort of stuff. Scientists would cry, artists would laugh.

You are telling your story, whenver you are comunicating and whomever listens is reading whatever they like into it.

When Baudrillard says that we are imposing moral into our images. He does the same thing. He lays claim to how things really are. He tells his own story and it still comes with the same quality he critizes. The meaning is not in the images, the meaning is in you.

Fuck it. It's all just shooting breeze.