Indifference in identity

Rodovia de Covas, © Cláudio Reis (courtesy of the artist)

Susan Sontag’s concerns, which led to her well-known essay On Photography, may today be easily understood within the context of the emergence of photography and following Walter Benjamin’s remarkable essay on this new, yet mechanically reproducible, visual art. Nevertheless, both authors’ concerns and doubts about the art of photography seem now solved or taken as facts, given to us by the infinite probabilities of photography, not only as an interpretation of itself, but also through the multiplication of different viewpoints, of different subjects relating to those same viewpoints or searching for new ones, in and out of the photographic image, instead of taking it as a “miniature of reality”, which itself (the reality) has proven to be infinite as of both the unconscious gaze and the camera itself, as Benjamin had stated. Today,  it seems evident that photography is no longer just a document, capable of replacing a bygone reality (although it may work as such), nor is it merely the result of the photographer’s desire to keep a memory alive (not just his memory but a collective one). Photography isn’t pure fiction as well, an invented narrative, albeit on the surface all may be fiction, all elements may be manufactured, invented, masterfully arranged to create a troubling picture between fiction and reality, or a latent ambiguity between document and narrative. Not even Demand’s photographs reenact that doubt today, since what is interesting is not the manufacturing of reality through models later photographed by the author, but the fiction told by those models transformed into images, making the process of storytelling visible, without any ambiguity. Similarly, the ambiguity can be generated not only around the dichotomies imaginary-reality or document-fiction, but also around several parallel dichotomies, in all the frontiers capable of creating a visual disarray, where photographers start (and have started) by questioning the genres and their identities, following, once again, the history of facts, the different struggles cities, societies and cultures have faced.

Continue reading...

ARbD’14 – Fourth International Conference on Architectural Research by Design: Unifying Academia and Practice through Research

From a tree to a landscape