Appearances

This is a photo of a section of a tin wall in  Myers Lane in Adelaide's CBD. 

This wall was just opposite where I used to live in the city, which  was in the process of change during the shift from  an industrial to a postindustrial or information capitalism. Our  image culture changes into a digital culture with this shift.  This  was a time of rapid technological change, due to the emergence of digital technologies, such as the computer,  the mobile phone,  the internet as a information superhighway,  computer generated imagery,  video surveillance in the shopping mall and the high tech Desert Storm of the Gulf War.       

This is a photography of appearances, of the look of things, the ephemeral, the particular. It is an older way of seeing  that is being dislodged by the post-photographic tendency in a digital culture  to  devalue and deny the representation of appearances and sight in favour of the emancipation of the image from its empirical moorings. 

Introduction : the post-photographic age?

This is the introduction to the book.

The impact of digital technology on photography  was initially seen in the 1990s as a threat to, and a  undermining of,  the practical tradition of visual representation of the photographic. This was usually expressed in terms of the death of photography, the loss of the real, and the emergence of the post-photographic age.

This kind of understanding  signified both a sense of the displacement of photographic practice by the use of digital technology and a sense of epochal change in our visual culture. Digital imagery meant  new ways of seeing based on a freedom from the  inherent constraints of automatism and realism that tied the analogue photographer to being a mere recorder of reality--a mirror held up to the world. The duality between the photography and  the digital image  is stark and it is understood in terms of technological means of production. 

chance

There is a view that film photography after digitalisation provides a way to create poetry because the convenience of digitalization  also tidies things up, correcting mistakes and eliminating chance.  If this analogue media of contemporary art  involves a backward glance to what has been, as we become ever more immersed in digital media, it also keeps photography  open to chance.  

You don't know what you are going to get with film, even when the photo has been carefully scoped and theme of the shoot  carefully selected.  

seaweed still life

This snap of a found still life was made along the coast between Petrel Cove and Kings Beach in Waitpinga whilst I was on an early morning poodlewalk:

 I have been looking at an exhibition  of the early 35mm work  made by Joel Meyerowitz between 1963 and 1978. The exhibition is entitled "Joel Meyerowitz: Towards Colour 1962-1978",  and it is at   Beetles and Huxley, a photographic gallery  in London. These Leica snapshots  are   from Meyerowitz's very early days shooting in black and white on the streets of New York  to the year he published his first book, "Cape Light", the pictures of which were made with a large format camera. 

Meyerowitz worked in advertising for four months of the year to support his family and devoted the rest of his time to photography.  A number of the pictures in Mexico and Florida   were made with  a Guggenheim Scholarship to take pictures on the theme of 'leisure time'.

The snapshot tradition

The pictures made with the film Leica are snapshots and, and as such, they belong to the tradition of the snapshot image culture. Traditionally, snapshot photography is  one in which the images  are almost always produced for and circulated within,  the private realm, and its meaning and significance are  imbedded in individual and rarely rational affective responses. 

The snapshot  tradition has been interpreted as a form of vernacular photography,  and  this culture  is usually interpreted as  pictures made by everyday  folk about their everyday life;  or more specifically,   "the unself-conscious efforts of common people . . . to create satisfying patterns in the realities of everyday life. 

This results in a gap between the unruly vernacular culture and the modernist,  hermeticizing discourse  of the art institution, with its emphasis on autonomy, authorship, uniqueness and universality.   

 This vernacular culture insists on lived experience, or a rhetoric of authenticity, works within specific social and cultural conventions, and emphasises personal narrative. For most of us, snapshots mean something because they preserve a memory, capture a moment, or depict a friend, family member or loved one. -These are the  same themes that Kodak promoted for decades. From a personal point of view the significance of snapshot aesthetics often revolves around what we see and feel when viewing snapshots, rather than what they mean to art historians, curators, and collectors.