not a pretty picture. not a good. not a bad. picture. but an argument.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

man meets crow meets world




"Images are mediations between the world and human beings. Human beings 'ex-ist', i.e. the world is not immediately accessible to them and therefore images are needed to make it comprehensible. However, as soon as this happens, images come between the world and human beings. They are supposed to be maps but they turn into screens: Instead of representing the world, they obscure it until human beings' lives finally become a function of the images they create."

 (from Towards a Philosophy of Photography, Vilem Flusser)





9 comments:


  1. Ah, as writing is.
    As all human representations...
    As all human inventions.........

    I always get a kick when I visit "installations" in museums. The first time I saw an installation of a garage "fixed in time @ 1950" I found myself searching for parallels in my own life.

    Is that what we do when we see a representation of a moment?

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    1. rosaria, what a strange thing that we are born into the universe in the form of questions. (but how might it be otherwise? if it were otherwise there would be no point to existence at all, no momentum to it.) we are always grappling to understand our identities and our relationship with a world we can't even fully see.

      flusser seems to suggest (i can't claim to understand him exactly) that with each system we create to understand and decipher the world, we find ourselves at a greater distance from the original perception, as you say, with all of man's creations. we are mad to breach the distance, all the while making the bridge longer.

      xo
      erin

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  2. More often than not, I find myself frustrated when trying to capture nature with my camera. I see, then look through the lens, and I want to stomp my feet and scream because the camera cannot capture what *I* see. Do you understand? (We could talk of this for hours, I'm sure)...

    But your series here tells me a story, a poem even, particularly the photo with the stop sign and all the telephone poles. (Someone told me recently that all those giant windmills built in California to use the wind to make electricity, have killed millions of birds. This tore at my heart...)

    I read this quote recently which I'm still digesting: "Contrary to what Weston asserts, the habit of photographic seeing---of looking at reality as an array of potential photographs---creates estrangement from, rather than union with, nature." ~Susan Sontag, from "On Photography".

    An awesome post, Erin, very thought-provoking. xo

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    1. marion, susan sontag is next on my reading list for the philosophy of photography but then everything we read is towards an understanding of photography, isn't it, for photography is just as writing or any other art is, a translation of the world.

      i think photography does both things simultaneously, which might seem counter intuitive but is (i believe) how the whole of existence operates, it is the bridge toward understanding and perceiving while simultaneously being the bridge away from understanding and perceiving. this is the metaphor of living inside the body, which is the bridge in both directions also, as is language and every other system of symbols we necessarily create because of our existence with distance (separateness) between us and the whole or all or god.

      but what is this thing, this strange thing that happens between how we perceive the world, as you say, and how it is that we are unable to capture it and reflect it exactly in the same way? what metamorphosis takes place between our initial perception and that which we produce to reflect it? and what does this say of the multi-fold reality of what exists outside of us? it is incredible and strange, really, a mystery.

      yes, we could talk hours about this, days, weeks, years. in fact, we are doing just this:)))

      xo
      erin

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  3. J'aime beaucoup le texte de Vilem Flusser que tu as choisi en accompagnement de tes photos que j'aime aussi, beaucoup.
    Amicalement.

    Roger

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    1. roger, vilem flusser's text is a challenge to me in so many ways. i make my way through it very slowly. he helps me to ask the questions i never quite thought of asking.

      it is good to see you here again. i think of you in the world creating your temporal images, wondering what sweet resonance is taking place in your life right now.

      xo
      erin

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  4. Direct experience is painfully beautiful. I have felt its intensity a handful of times the way I mean. And so I look for that ecstasy in representations, as a sort of substitute. I don't mean to, but I do. Because there is ecstasy in your photographs, in your words, in feeling life through your screen. These images tell me something I don't know, but I do know, or I didn't know until just the moment after seeing them. Same with your words.

    But we are really not taught to explore our own selves this way, to see, really see what is here, which is every bit as beautiful as the representation someone else [like you] shows us.

    This should really be our cause, to seek, to see every bit of our life as wild and beautiful as this, as normal. But maybe we would not tolerate such intensity. Or maybe the intensity would seem less so over time. Ah, to strike a balance between intense beauty and normalcy, as one.

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    1. ruth, your articulation always astounds me.

      we are not taught to seek ecstasy. and why is this? how might we be controlled if we became so reckless and alive? how might we be tamed as consumers of fear and mistrust? afterall, this is what fuels the modern machine of our society. this is what pays the bills and pushes development onward.

      i resist the balance, ruth. i don't even want it. do you know how upsetting this is to those around me? (although there are fewer and fewer around me.) do you have any idea how unable i am to function appropriately? i want only the ecstasy. the normalcy destroys me but the world forces me to pass through it. in these times i become bereft.

      i don't think the intensity can become less over time. i think it can not help itself but become hotter and hotter, the burning. damn the consequences for the alternative is death through living, a somnabulistic weave through time.

      xo
      erin

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    2. ruth, i come back to this in the fear that perhaps i seem prickly. and i am, but not toward you, only in me. i consider your george eliot quote today in terms of our dialogue. i intend to hold your chaff and grain together:) (although i don't see the chaff clearly). it's my chaff that makes me difficult. you have such ability to articulate softly and i am always so full of outward direction.

      xo
      erin

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"Words at the limit of hearing, attributable to no one, received in the conch of the ear like dew by a leaf." (philippe jaccottet) or even a quiet presence is appreciated))