By Méri Charitonidi.
Capturing images is not a nostalgic representation, an artistic product or a testimonial documentation of life; it is all, none and much more. Visual communication serves as key factor for the social regeneration of our cyber era. A moment in reality and a photograph are often interpreted as equivalent or even identical fragments. Visual media is based upon this aspect, only with a tiny bit of a twist.
Media’s fast spread constructed reality formations portray optical illusions that effortlessly manage to force visual addiction.
Although, we do not necessarily accept dealing with the dilemma by questioning the feed. Let me explain: what we visually consume lingers between the uncertainty of what we see and the notion of comprehending what we see, resulting to the need of seeing more and more.
Doubt easily slips the mind, as the flow of diverse visual material is constant and we NEED to "refresh". The repetitive surrendering to the aesthetic beast of our screen must portray some perspective of reality, or so we hope. Capturing a particular moment, situation or feeling, may not represent facts about a time as we remember it. A snapshot is the time - based leftover of an incident. A photo’s subject of focus stands out by shading the rest of its surroundings.
For instance, if an orchid is dying of dehydration and a blossom is still holding on and we choose to frame the latter instead of the whole plant, the reality of its suffering is erased. We might be unaware of this choice, but this innocent ignorance directly conceals the mentioned fact. Showing this picture to someone else, without providing the above storyline, will never reveal the truth.
Since “photography implies that we know about the world if we accept it as the camera records it”1 images are depicting one thing by ignoring another. How much of what we see is intended to be captured by the lens?
The subconscious choice of “captivity” and style inevitably provide some kind of outcome. This choice alters perception and meaning.
This choice simply called framing.
Is that so bad?
And what about focusing on a false happening by avoiding to “embrace” the whole image for manipulative and deceptive intentions? Well that is almost the same. Usually, if no obvious editing sign disturb the context of a picture, no questioning will rise regarding its verity. Then again, is that so bad?
Personal taste, education, culture, mentality, critical thinking and a myriad of other parameters control the narratives of images. Photo- fabricated stories ceaselessly emerge in our phenomenal digital era. Postmodern unlimited access enables cross-check, thought that is too much trouble to go through unless stated otherwise. Photography represents fractions of reality by dissociating elements. After all, as Diane Arbus justly said “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”2. Coming across a photo, in whatever media, can only let us know so little about it.
Photos seem to have an amazing ability of ideally shaping an iconic experience of a moment.
Smartphones can imitate the CLICK sound of cameras’ mechanical shutter. Wondering about this fake effect, during a casual mobile photography moment, a theory popped up: It is probably a fetish!
This sound stands for “the job is done and the photo is owned”. Is any kind of instant photo as fake as this sound? The CLICK creates an ambience of safety about freezing and acquiring a moment in time in relation to its locus in quo.
Click stimulates satisfaction.
In the visual media universe “nothing resembles itself”3 and the glorious concept of content creation spreads its veil upon us. Fantastical and fictitious imitations of reality convert into moments of colorful or colorless digital mosaics of delusion. Cultural and social constructions romantically push us to believe that “it is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see”(Henry David Thoreau). All in all, the truth is inaccessible and the problem of representation is a deadlock, that after all is not always as problematic. “Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy”4 of a phantom of some existence. Are images immortal data outliving memory? Well...I guess click, or it didn’t happen.
1. Sontag, Susan. "On Photography. 1977." Rpt. New York: Anchor (1990).
2. Bach, Hedy. "Composing a visual narrative inquiry." Handbook of narrative inquiry: Mapping a methodology (2007).
3. Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and simulation. University of Michigan press, 1994.
4. Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club: a novel. WW Norton & Company, 2005.