Thursday, 8 November 2012

Representation And Its Double


We abstract the world in order to know it better. Perhaps this sounds counterintuitive, but to understand something one needs to separate oneself from it. The distance we create from the world when we abstract it-when we codify it and model it and formalize it into ideas and notions-gives us the space and time and means to contemplate it. Turning away from the world allows us to understand the world more fully. And certainly, photography is a tool that helps us to do just that. Written and spoken languages are means of conveying abstracted notions as well. All are tools of abstraction and can be possible vectors for meaning. They separate, abstract and emphasize significance, allowing insight into the subject of their attention. But meaning and significance are never static qualities or quantities as they rely on interpretation. Interpretation, however, is fungible, slippery and subjective-for meanings may, at times, be self-evident, but at other times meanings can become evasive and evanescent.

This is not a pipe: on the Treachery of Images

Years ago my wife would joke with me saying that I was a pervert. And she was right. What I do, as an image-maker, is to pervert reality. This I would never deny: my images decontextualize reality; they pervert it, abstract it. I present my modified decontextualized "realities" as best I can. Interpretation and depth of meaning aside, my "best" will forever be something other than reality. When we abstract we make a pointed reduction of something. It is an attempt to project meaning through representation. But meaning created and conveyed through representation is never an ensured quantity. Interpretation ensures just that. Plus, there is a certain level of "noise" at any of the three junctures of synthesis, transformation and conveyance of ideas: the three places where interpretation holds sway. Meanings also tend to be "sticky." They adhere correctly or incorrectly to the object of their description. Many times (but not always) an image will supplant an observable reality and leave in its place an empty visage where a once observable and meaningful past existed. Baudrillard talks about this extensively in his Orders of Simulacra.

I started thinking directly about these ideas again six weeks ago, when I attended the Bursa Photo Festival in Bursa, Turkey. One of the themes of the festival was education. There were many vibrant talks and seminars on the work on display and about photographic practice and education. It was pointed out to me, although I have to admit it hadn't gone unnoticed, that the work of August Sander was evoked often as a touchstone for a variety of ideas in several of the talks. I found it wonderful and remarkable that his work should have significance to so many people in so many ways across such a stretch of time. And I wondered about how the work had become so much more significant as time moved forward: significance the work only (perhaps) hinted at to a small number of people during August Sander's lifetime. I wondered what the work of August Sander meant to these new initiates to the world of images, since many in the audience were likely seeing and hearing about Sanders work for the first time. I wondered what his work represented to them. I wondered what exactly was being communicated. I wondered how that meaning was being metabolized, not only across cultural barriers three times removed, but also across shifts in time and space. I worried: had the meaning of Sander's work became a kind of shorthand for something else, something other than itself?
We live in a forest of signs, in a sea of signifiers. Postmodernists seem to think this is a new phenomenon.  But the world has always held multiple and layered meanings for us. Certain work attains iconic status. Sometimes references become worn and cliché as meaning is emptied. The meanings associated with objects and representations change, multiply, evolve and decay.
Meaning can be lost and meaning can be gained or meaning can be replaced with a sign, an abstraction that, at some point, will lose its semblance of meaning or resemblance to what it once referred to. We struggle with the beast of meaning so that we can understand the possibilities that exist in the world. We express our understanding via languages that speak us as much as we speak them-sometimes to the point that we simply can't know who is really talking, who is mimicking, who is projecting and what exactly it is that is being said.

They say the work of an artist goes beyond what an artist can explicate or even ever know. Some of us have a pretty good idea of what we are doing. But what we won't ever fully know is the emotional weight our work has on others or where that work will lead others intellectually, now or in the future. As creators, we exist, not in some exalted state of infinite objectivity, but wallow blind in subjective and relative myopia, mitigated only through the abstractions of culture and language and the efforts that we make to draw meaning from our unique perspective in time and space. We can draw meaning if we give ourselves enough distance-the distance that only time, space and reflection can provide.

---

On another note, I want to mention this item again. There is a free eBook study of my long out of print analog book, Invisible City. Previously available only on iPads through iTunes, the eBook is now available as an enhanced pdf, compatible with other eBook readers and all PCs. Invisible City has proven itself to be of perennial interest and an analog reprint is planned with Steidl.

Ken Schles (Foam Magazine #5/Near)

15 comments:

  1. Are you a student on vacation? You can learn a little bit of money here https://essayclick.net/blog/online-jobs

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thats azming thanks for sharing this.useful for Us.
    ESPN For PC

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the information you shared, I will contact them now!
    subway surfers

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Stylish Hero Jason Statham Leather Jacket

    ReplyDelete
  5. Phillips66 Survey | Are seeking the online article in which you can find the Phillips66 Customer Satisfaction Survey Guide, Phillips66 Guest Satisfaction Survey Rules, Requirements, and Phillips66 Survey rewards, then let me tell you.click here..Phillips66 Gas Visit Customer Satisfaction Survey
    .


    ReplyDelete
  6. website designing company web content and design patterns are considered as the core elements for every tailor-made web development company prior to taking hands-on-practice to build powerful and resource-oriented websites.

    ReplyDelete
  7. custom shopify app development canada an Unified and Trusted Shopify App Development Company

    ReplyDelete
  8. 美国写了留学行业最知名的互联网品牌。这个与互联网很好融合的平台的出现,对我们学生来说是一件好事,文书代写的质量有所提高。我觉得我以前不需要修改我的内容。在联系了我的牧师导师后,我发现图森的画坏了! 我的导师指出了我在内容上的许多错误,特别是重点不够,层次不清。一些我认为非常重要的经验,事实上,对申请不是很有帮助(如学生俱乐部活动。我想报考的是生物化学,要强调学历。导师告诉我,写一份文件最重要的是您的背景和学校与您的专业相匹配。如果不匹配,再牛逼的体验也帮不了多少。

    ReplyDelete
  9. Selecting our gorgeous, verified, and experienced Independent Escorts Service and Call Girls in Aerocity would provide you spellbinding escort services that will offer you complete fulfillment and satisfaction and leave a long-lasting impression on you.Your Aerocity tour is always half-done without our Call Girls in Aerocity the real beauty in the city. We have the most gorgeous,Its so much insist of our loved customers our agency is happy to provide our Call Girls in Aerocity. We have hot and sexy females who are ready to hookup. Everyone are respectful with a quiet character. We have a wide range of Female escorts in Aerocity. Simply call us and recruit via given whatsapp option to the footer section.we are accessible day in and day out all over in Aerocity.To hire our Call Girls in Aerocity, you can speak with our call girl representative over the call. It is effortless to get Call Girls in Aerocity now. So, let us tell you about the benefit of our Call Girls in Aerocity because when you first desire something, you look for the pros of that thing. Call Girls in Aerocity, Delhi. One of the oldest Agency over hundreds of customer satisfatiction.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hello guys you! You will meet many Aerocity escorts but she will not give you full satisfaction. If all of you want to real & erotic satisfaction then you booked your Adorable Escorts Service in Aerocity. And take full enjoy with Gratifying Aerocity escorts services. Escorts Service in Aerocity perfectly delightful movements and they are ready for sensuality anytime you crave.You will be able to find Hot Escorts Service in Aerocity, Elite escorts, and others as well. There are galleries for all of these girls, making it easy for you to hand-select the girl you want to spend time with. Booking requires a simple phone call. Escorts Service in Aerocity are often available day and night. The sooner you book, the easier it will be to have a larger selection. The girls working with our Delhi escort agency as escorts are college girls, Escorts Service in Aerocity, and housewives. Our other young babes such as the College Escorts from Model Female Escorts Service in Aerocity and Mahipalpur agency are light-hearted and always seem to have a spring in their step.Individuals who are not wedded or have enormous sex advance ought to employ a Escorts Service in Aerocity escort young girl like me to get unwind.

    ReplyDelete