OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915. Assi one Exercise Six. The myth of objectivity

Bazin and Sekula

“for the first time, between the originating object and its reproduction there intervenes only the instrumentality of a none living agent. For the first time, an image of the world is formed automatically without the creative intervention of man…in spite of any objections our critical spirit may offer we are forced to accept as real the existence of the object reproduced, actually, re-represented…”

(Andre Bazin, ‘The Ontology of the Photographic Image’ in what is cinema? 1945, p7)

Barry senior 511915

I think there are two ways of looking at this, first of all, we must decide how we are using the camera and for what reason. Are we are using the camera to make a representation of an object in which case the photographer can be objective that is he can remove all personal feeling and or opinions in considering the correct approach. In this case, the personality of the photographer does not enter the image, he will have decisions to make, but those decisions are influenced directly by the object being captured if the wrong decision is made the Image will be poor.  So, in this instance, the objective is to make an accurate representation of an object through the lens,.

If a skilled artist wants to make a detailed drawing of an object but he makes the decision to use the wrong sized brush or pencil for a part of the picture the picture will have mistakes even if only one small detail the same as the photographer. The medium is different, but the first tools used are the same the tools being a lens, the lens, of the eye, the process of both start with the lens, of the eye every tool after is added by the Artist / Photographer a cognitive decision is made.

Are we any longer forced to accept as real the existence of the object, even in the pre-digital age darkroom tinkering would change an image add thing take things away a picture could lie? The only thing that is real is the flat piece of paper with some marks on it.

If we are using the camera to inform people of an event that is taking place, we are influenced by our own interpretation of what we think we should be captured this may or may not represent an accurate picture of events. We can only capture one moment in time, on viewing that moment the viewer could be sent down the total wrong path of imagination giving him the wrong idea of the events taking place, sometimes this is overcome by captions and or connotations.

“However the definition also implies that the photograph is an incomplete utterance, a message that depends on some external matrix of conditions precipitations for its readability” ( FILENAME: sekula_photomeaning.pdf accessed 23/09/17)

To be able to read a photograph we should have some prior knowledge of the event being portrayed without that knowledge we are in the realms of fantasy and can read anything we want into an image. This fantasy is in my view one of the reasons photography is so popular if someone sends a selfie of them enjoying themselves the precipitant viewing it is now in a state of imagination even if only for a short period of time.

How we read an image is influenced by the knowledge we have gained in the past, similar to common sense it is learned. If you live in the city all your life you learn commonsense of the city, i.e. don’t go down there at night don’t do this that or the other, common sense to a native that lives in the jungle will be very different than ours. We wouldn’t live long with all our city learned common sense.

If we look at the picture below by Bresson with no knowledge of were the picture was taken, and the story behind it would you be able to read it could you know the story.

I remember watching a TV documentary the person being interviewed was talking about the picture above, saying things like it the best street picture that was ever taken the timing the content, describing the rings as children’s toys left in the rubble, see (picture below). At that point, he lost me because I didn’t see children’s toys left in the rubble I saw the remains of a burnt beer barrel the same as I have seen many times as a young boy he was reading the picture with his own perception and telling it as if it was fact. This is the point of photography, and why it is so popular, it is the reading of the picture that makes a picture special because everyone sees something different in the image the viewers bring something that is individual to themselves.