Each day our correspondances, our emailing, tweeting, posting, and sharing produces the equivalent of six newspapers a day. Only a quarter of a century ago, that figure was two and a half pages worth of newspaper. It’s no great revelation to say that we live in an information age, but has this deluge of information, of images, produced any greater understanding of why what moves us, and lingers in our brain, does so?
Our acceptance of the image as a daily part of our world, whether the making of, or the viewing of does not mean we are fully comprehending what we see, and neither do photographers fully grasp how to produce an image which truly moves. This is perhaps to be expected. Although we take photography for granted, the medium has existed for less than two hundred years. In comparison, monoliths and runestones contain fragments of poetry. Cave paintings in Australia are tens of thousands of years old. Photography then, is just a baby, and a rush to define it based on one particular era or style shouldn’t be made.
In ‘The Documentary Impulse‘ the photographer Stuart Franklin, who is best known for his images taken in Tianamen Square in 1989 makes the same point. Franklin states, ” That ambiguous photographs may possess a power equal to that of more didactic images I can only assume is because there is a great deal that we don’t understand about the way we read photographs. There is uncertainty too, about how photographs trigger responses or memories held in the unconscious mind.” It is this uncertainty which interests me, as it lies at the heart of what draws me to photography. The fact that when we view a photograph it is so much of real life, and yet so different. A perfect rendition of a face. Yet one dimensional. A moment from a face which existed for a thousandth of a second. Yet fixed forever.
I make my own attempts to carve out a line of uncertainty and unease. Photographing the normal, my fence, the bathroom window, ventilation pipes. Do they work,these images? Or are they just…normal. Not for me to say, as always.