on photography

an interesting question came up on Photography during exams–”does Photography aspire to reality?”.

Interesting, because of the scope of expression rather than understanding–of metaphysical indulgence rather than empirical truth-finding; which i don’t think is particularly bad from time to time; as long as it doesn’t become your leitmotif.

my answer went (in short) so:

A Photograph is essentially a recording of an event–it is the “flattening” of the dimensions of space and time within a context, allowing you to remove that event/image outside its own context for preservation or dissipation. The Universe is never static, and things are constantly evolving and adapting–in short, they are changing continuously. The click of a Photograph then, records the death of one moment as it transcends to another; while simultaneously transcending the death of the event by becoming an (for all real purposes) eternal record of that death–that moment which is gone and will not come.

I have since looked at the ideas of “Photographs” and “Art” and even the post-structuralist thought that went into that answer and found it lacking in many ways. I think that the words and implications of that answer are true, and they are beautiful. But that does not help in any way understand the Photograph–understand the art.

Understanding implies development of empirical proofs. Proofs, which really are not readily available. Post-Structuralism in itself provides tools to attain those proofs, but often drifts into inane self-reflective discussion.

Post-Modernity itself, with its incredulity towards meta-narratives often does the same. Without an attempt to reach a consolidation–an “agreement” (and agreeing to disagree isn’t one) there is no real dialogue, no discussion; and we often play with meaning and words we use, to avoid doing so–making a committment/taking a stand on a particular issue.

It is perhaps true, that Art cannot be “judged” or assigned values, as the “art” itself is supposed to reveal itself in the mind of each viewer rather than collectively–that the “reality” of an art or a photograph then lies in individual interpretation and understanding.

But that is not in itself a valid argument, and rather once again used as a shield in order to shirk the (quite tedious, I imagine,) task of coming to an agreement on any of these issues.

An art then, is developed by the collective historical and cultural influences of society and the individual, and the individual expression itself, formed along certain specific lines of syntax or thought processes, and the talent or ability or training of the individual to execute. And it’s reality is itself decoded by those same processes, relating cues to known signifiers (this is like “xxxx”) translating to their newly assigned meanings (this is therefore “xxxx”) and being relayed as spoken or written word in communications of all sorts, together with the politic and intent of the communicator and the medium of communication.

A photograph on the other hand, I believe is different. While you may assign it a visual stylistic element, and a politic that emanates from the photographer’s intent or understanding; a photograph is essentially made to be beautiful first–it is in it’s conventional sense, about visual appeal with other elements being input by the photographer, or chance. Other elements being things such as the choice of the “centre” of the image, or the importance you deliberately or inadvertently assign to objects by their placement within the photographic frame. An aspiration to reality is dependent upon the intent of the photographer; with secondary meaning being often that–secondary.

The true reality of a photograph then, is what it gives you from its intent (which therefore needs to be understood within its context, its politic. The secondary reality is the one you generate for yourselves, with the cues you pick up from a photograph; that you translate as meaning other than the intent of the photographer.

Intent, then is important in Art. Artists often say that they “leave you to interpret your own meaning into their art” and that “intent really is unimportant”. That by the logic of this argument I’ve written out cannot quite be the truth.

The intent–the politic, exists whether you understand it or not, whether you accept it or not; (as Barthes said, you cannot escape meaning) and the willingness of the artist to state his intent is then perhaps a reflection of his willingness to take responsibility for his work.

Does Photography aspire to reality then?–Maybe, maybe not… but it certainly should.

vorsprung durch technik


hide and seek

Originally uploaded by Ilúvatar.

And I have no compass,
and I have no map
And I have no reasons,
no reasons to get back
And I have no religion
and I don’t know what’s what
And I don’t know the limit,
the limit of what we got
Don’t worry baby,
it’ll be alright
You’ve got the right shoes
to get you through the night
It’s cold outside
but brightly lit
Skip the subway,
let’s go to the overground
Get your head out of the mud baby
Put flowers in the mud, baby,

No particular places,
no particular songs
I’ve been hiding,
what am I hiding from?

Don’t worry baby,
it’s gonna be alright
Uncertainty can be a guiding light
I hear voices, ridiculous voices
I’m in the slipstream
Let’s go,
let’s go overground
Take your head out of the mud baby

She’s gonna dream up the world
she wants to live in
She’s gonna dream out loud
Dream out loud

– “Zooropa”, U2


Today is gonna be the day
That they’re gonna throw it back to you
By now you should’ve somehow
Realized what you gotta do
I don’t believe that anybody
Feels the way I do about you now

Backbeat the word is on the street
That the fire in your heart is out
I’m sure you’ve heard it all before
But you never really had a doubt
I don’t believe that anybody feels
The way I do about you now

And all the roads we have to walk are winding
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding
There are many things that I would
Like to say to you
I don’t know how

Because maybe
You’re gonna be the one who saves me ?
And after all
You’re my wonderwall

quantifying ethic


carpe diem

Originally uploaded by Ilúvatar.

turning and turning in the widening gyre
the falcon cannot hear the falconer
things fall apart
the center cannot hold
mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
the blood-dimmed tide is loosed
and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned
the best lack all convictions
while the worst are full of passionate intensity


ever wish the world was simple?
ever wish the world could relate to you, your codes of ethic and your understanding of right and wrong?

when you quantify ethic–your ethic, you are told that everyone has a right to their opinion–that the world is different for everyone

but is it really?–i don’t think it is. the inconsequentiality of life assures me of that answer. the average lifespan rarely exceeds 80-90 years today; and over the next 50 years, may increase by another 10-15 years. in the grand narrative of things; life was here before you, and will be here after you; and your existence is but transient.

which in the existentialist ethic implies to me the complete opposite of what many do propound–the post-modernist incredulity towards meta-narratives is often taken as an excuse to be different; or freedom from social constructs and constraints; both of which are very different from “making conscientious choice” which is what is proposed by those thinkers.

life may be about shades of gray; and there may be no real “truths”; but there are instincts of right and wrong–when you cheat, you know what you’re doing is wrong. when you hurt others, you know what you’re doing is wrong. justification is irrelevant to the action itself–the action can be defined within the constructs of ethics, moralities or legislature; as can the justification. the truth then; for all it’s lack of existence is define-ably real; and is manifest in law–the quantification of ethic, the quantification of morality and the quantification of justice.

so stop hiding behind the screen of subjectivity–to the discerning eye it’s barely more than idiocy–and take responsibility for your actions; and demand of yourself an answer to this question: what do you do that matters? why should anyone care for your subjective existence?

darwin’s theory you should remember was two-fold (and people always forget the second one) evolution is constructed by “the survival of the fittest” and the “propagation of the species”. subjective truths then; are embedded in objective realities–in the grand narrative of history–and your only claim to subjectivity within that objective reality is a lack of a universal observer. (God of course; would be that observer in most forms of thought–the “unknown” that quantifies all; but “feedback” in that context is perhaps more discreet and through other channels)


“This administration has an excuse for everything…
Classified, Classified, Classified…
Maybe Clinton should’ve just stamped his ****s classified.”
-Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

cinema et al

cinema paper happened today; but couldn’t do two of my three favorites in the year (Wild Strawberries and Daisies) for assorted reasons; so i’ll write my essays for them here


a terrible beauty

I have met them at close of dayComing with vivid facesFrom counter or desk among greyEighteenth-century houses.I have passed with a nod of the headOr polite meaningless words,Or have lingered awhile and saidPolite meaningless words,And thought before I had doneOf a mocking tale or a gibeTo please a companionAround the fire at the club,Being certain that they and IBut lived where motley is worn:All changed, changed utterly:A terrible beauty is born.That woman’s days were spentIn ignorant good-will,Her nights in argumentUntil her voice grew shrill.What voice more sweet than hersWhen, young and beautiful,She rode to harriers?This man had kept a schoolAnd rode our winged horse;This other his helper and friendWas coming into his force;He might have won fame in the end,So sensitive his nature seemed,So daring and sweet his thought.This other man I had dreamedA drunken, vainglorious lout.He had done most bitter wrongTo some who are near my heart,Yet I number him in the song;He, too, has resigned his partIn the casual comedy;He, too, has been changed in his turn,Transformed utterly:A terrible beauty is born.Hearts with one purpose aloneThrough summer and winter seemEnchanted to a stoneTo trouble the living stream.The horse that comes from the road.The rider, the birds that rangeFrom cloud to tumbling cloud,Minute by minute they change;A shadow of cloud on the streamChanges minute by minute;A horse-hoof slides on the brim,And a horse plashes within it;The long-legged moor-hens dive,And hens to moor-cocks call;Minute by minute they live:The stone’s in the midst of all.Too long a sacrificeCan make a stone of the heart.O when may it suffice?That is Heaven’s part, our partTo murmur name upon name,As a mother names her childWhen sleep at last has comeOn limbs that had run wild.What is it but nightfall?No, no, not night but death;Was it needless death after all?For England may keep faithFor all that is done and said.We know their dream; enoughTo know they dreamed and are dead;And what if excess of loveBewildered them till they died?I write it out in a verse -MacDonagh and MacBrideAnd Connolly and pearseNow and in time to be,Wherever green is worn,Are changed, changed utterly:A terrible beauty is born.

listen / hear

In The DeepThought you had all the answersto rest your heart uponbut something happensdon’t see it coming, nowyou can’t stop yourselfnow you’re out there swimmingin the deepLife keeps tumbling you heart in circlestill you let gotill you shed your pride and you climb to heavenand you throw yourself offnow you’re out there spinning in the deepwords: bird york music: bird york and michael beckerbeen listening to this song for a while, and like it more and more each time



won best Picture. Yay


seeing the film i couldn’t imagine how any other film could beat it on content; and therefore couldn’t comprehend all the fuss around Brokeback Mountain.

gay rights as a political statement in a film is bold; but it’s a political statement; and Crash is a better film