This week we analysed a text based around artifice and authenticity…
-Mitchell, W.J. (1994) Intention and Artifice. In: The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth In The Post-Photographic Era. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press pp22-57
The text was based mostly around how we can determine and interpret photographs by comparing the act of photography and art. The text discussed how images and photos have previously established relationship between reality…
“…a photograph depicts something, that it is not just an abstract pattern resulting from a chemical reaction. Whether photographs depict through resemblance (as suggested, for example, by James Gibson) or through the action of a denotive symbol system (as vigorously argued by Nelson Goodman) is an interesting and vexed question, but one that need not detain us here.” (Mitchell, W.J 1994:2).
The text also outlines how photographs have been regarded as “Fossilized Light” (Mitchell, W.J 1994:2). Although authenticity of images has become a growing issue. Mitchell discusses in the text how we can begin to consider and recognise images in a alternative way firstly by exploring an images correspondence to reality, Cited by Songag ; “… A photograph is not only an image (as a painting is an image), an interpretation of the real; it is also a trace, something directly stencilled off the real, like a footprint or death mask.” (1994:2) thus encouraging us to adopt a different stance when looking at photographs and shifting focus from the depiction of reality to a more abstract and ‘open to interpretation’ way of thinking.
Throughout the text the medium of art and photography are compared frequently,
in particular using the example to Eadweard Muybridge’s horses in motion piece to outline how photographs capture more than the human eye can see; the motion captured by the lens of the camera revealed more accurate details as to how the horses move which would not of been depicted / reflected through art or the human eye.
Intention and Objectivity is also a crucial segment of the text as it raised awareness to the construction and intention of photographs and explores further, some images beg to persuade or depict, outlining a relationship of tension between intension and objectivity. Again by comparing the two mediums of art and photography by exploring “…the differing intentional relations of the painter and the photographer” (1994:7) describing art as an intentional depiction of a subject through the creation and appearance of the outcome whereas he described a photograph’s relation is casual because it follows a subject that exists as the subject appears the same as the photograph. “In characterizing the relation between the ideal photograph and its subject, one is characterizing not an intention but a casual process and while there is, as rule, an intentional act involved, this is not an essential part of the photographic relation.” (1994:7) I believe this is linked to the purpose of the medium.
Coherence is another fundamental factor in establishing a photographs true authenticity, if an photo depicts an image that is not a true record of its subject we try to demonstrate how this image is inauthentic. If the images origin, composition or appearance seems diminished or inaccurate we begin to question it.
As technology has progressed it has become harder and harder to determine whether an image is a true depiction of its subject. Images are no longer singularly used as evidence and in contemporary media especially, are often used as expression similar to the Avant-Garde movements.
Muybridge, M. (1878) The Horse in Motion [Photograph]. At: Washington: Tate Britain [Online]. Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/eadweard-muybridge/exhibition-guide/horse-motion
Mitchell,W.J. (1994) Intention and Artifice. In: The Reconfigures Eye: Visual Truth In The Post-Photographic Era. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press, pp22-57