Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Ian Copland, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. Does the 'sense' of place, person or object in an image that is produced by some photographic means make it a photograph?

    This young lady thinks so.
  2. Does the 'sense' of place, person or object in an image that is produced by some photographic means make it a photograph?

    This was the question that started the ongoing philosophical discussion. Without thinking much, I answer affirmatively that question, from the viewpoint of historiography. The photograph, much more than an artistic expression, is a way to remember moments of our lives. Look at photographs taken in the past. Many of it remember the scenes and people within a given time. The photograph was created to facilitate the registration of the historical fact at the moment it occurs. The historical fact covers places, people and objects in a given time. The invention of photography gave more fluidity to historiography. Initially, the work of the photographer to obtain images of people and scenes of daily life, rural or urban, recording the historical fact, was similar to the work of a Renaissance painter. A lot of creativity and a bit of spontaneity. The action of the photographer was very limited. Today, with the use of digital techniques (hardware and software), the picture was more spontaneous and dynamic, facilitating creativity, artistic expression of the common people and the immediate record of historical fact. Any human being of today can be a photographer or filmmaker with work published on social networks (Youtube, Facebook and Instagran, for example). Just have a smartphone in hand and an idea in head, you will be able to register certain historical fact in real time. If the technology allow the preservation of these historic records of today, made by means of digital photography, in 100 years people will comment on each other: “As it was difficult to shoot in the 21st century”. However, even in the future, an everyday image, made up of places, people and scenic objects, obtained by any means, will be a historical record. But, the artistic quality always depends on the taste of the observer.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
  3. ...............
    "The photograph... "

    1/125th of a second.

    That's what 'the photograph" gets. That's an infinitesimally tiny bit of visible dander. What "registration of the historical fact at the moment it occurs" do we get from any particular 1/125th of a second?

    If every camera, including cell phone cameras, were shooting 24 hours a day, all day, every day, we'd still get an infinitesimally small sliver of the visible. It's a human conceit that we are ever getting more than that.

    We suspect (but don't know) that pictures "may hold some clue concerning things of value that have been won and lost, and that might some day in some new guise, be won again." [John Szarkowski]

  4. Well, let's take one of the photos in my parents' wedding album. What I get to see is them bowing their heads over the wine goblets, with the well-known Brooklyn twin Cantors blessing them, each of their sets of parents standing by while a bunch of familiar and unfamiliar family members and friends long gone look on in the background. I see the looks in their parents' eyes, the style of the times in their dress and makeup, in my father's top hat and tails.

    So my answer to your question is, quite a bit, actually. It's not a fully narrative history. It's a gut level one. It's contact of a kind I don't get elsewhere. I get to touch a "historical fact" in a way I would not without that picture.

    But to have this experience, to touch and be touched by this photographic historical fact, I won't find it in the words of a dead art critic or theorist like Szarkowski. I have to go to my shoe box or my family album and look at the pictures.

    Having said this, I think the following also overstates things in the other direction:
    Because a lot of important photography is more an artistic expression than a way to remember a moment of our lives. In quantity, probably more photos are like the wedding pics of my parents, or vacation snaps which serve as reminders. But some very important photography is about something other than specific memories. These photos are a more transcendent expression looking as much toward the future as the past and are as much about human emotion and desire both in the concrete and the abstract as they are about remembering specific history.
    Norman 202 likes this.
  5. Supriyo, your image is quite self-explanatory. To you, the image is a portrait of your daughter. To others, it may be a still-life. To the PN folks, who knows? And does it really matter, except to those who revel in putting things into little boxes made of ticky tacky (with apologies to Malvina Reynolds), which genre best suits the image?
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
  6. Fred, what you stated here is what I should have stated in connection wit Supriyo's image.
  7. ................
    "People give more to pictures than they take from them." — Marcel Duchamp

    "To use a horse to show that a horse is not a horse is not as good as using a non-horse to show that a horse is not a horse." — Chuang Tzu
  8. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    "Gordon is a moron" - Jilted John.

  9. The sound of one hand clapping is silence, Julie.
  10. ...........

    The St. Louis Zoo

    by Carol Frost

    [ … ]

    In late-summer air thick with rose and lily, I felt the old malevolence;
    the snake tonguing the air, as if to tell me of its dreaming: — birds of paradise

    gemming a pond; the unspooling; soft comings on, soft, soft
    gestures, twisted and surreptitious; the shock; the taste; the kingdom.

    [ … ]​


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