Places and spaces

Both places and spaces define a geographical location, however they differ in meaning.  Space is considered more as an abstract thing with no substantial meaning.  It is an open location that has no social connection or values to people.

On the other hand, place is more than a location, even the size of the location does not matter.  It can be as small as a corner in a room or as big as earth itself.  A place has a history, memory and meaning and people perceive it in terms of self-reflection that includes experiences and achievements and also in terms of social integration such as symbols and values.  A place can be seen as a space that has a meaning.  When people get familiar with a space and link it to their personal experience and social values and symbols; it becomes a place for them.

“Place is security, space is freedom:  we are attached to the one and long for the other” – (Yu-Fu Tuan, 2001, p.3).

The course material mentioned Robert Harding Pittman, a German-American photographer who has undergone a photographic project called “Anonymization”.  Pittman spent 10 years working on this project where he travelled around the world photographing the loss of culture and the destruction of the environment caused by development.  Pittman captured suburban and urban sprawl across the globe in Las Vegas, Germany, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Spain, France and Greece.  Pittman documented the construction boom and development in these countries that are imposed without regard to the local culture, environment or climate.

 

 

 


Bibliography / References:

Bierend, D.  A Disorienting Survey of Suburban Sprawl, From Dubai to L.A.  [online].  Wired.  Available From:  https://www.wired.com/2014/05/robert-harding-pittman-anonymization/   [Accessed 24 June, 2017].

Lens Culture.  Anonymization:  The Global Proliferation of Urban Sprawl   [online].  Wired. Available From: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/robert-harding-pittman-anonymization-the-global-proliferation-of-urban-sprawl[Accessed 24 June, 2017].

M. Hunziker, M. Buchecker, T. Hartig.  Space and Place – Two Aspects of the Human-landscape Relationship  [online]. Available from: http://www.wsl.ch/fe/wisoz/publikationen/Publikationen_07-12_07_-_Space_and_Place_-_two_aspects_of_the_human-landscape_relationship.pdf [Accessed 24 June, 2017].

Malou van Woerkum (2012).  Space vs. place [online].  About Geography.  Available from: http://geography.ruhosting.nl/geography/index.php?title=Space_vs._place [Accessed 24 June, 2017].

Smithson, A. (2015).  Robert Harding Pittman: Anonymization  [online].  Lenscratch.  Available From:  http://lenscratch.com/2015/05/robert-harding-pittman-anonymization/   [Accessed 24 June, 2017].

Yi-Fu Tuan.  Space and Place:  Humanistic Perspective  [online]. Available from: http://geog.uoregon.edu/amarcus/geog620/Readings/Tuan_1979_space-place.pdf [Accessed 24 June, 2017].

 

 

Research point 2: (p.104): Still Life

Still life is a visualized form of a quiet genre of photography and painting that levels its gaze to things.

The course material gave many examples of photographers that avoid the use of human figure in order to communicate truths and stories about humanity.  I was inspired by photographer Penny Klepuszewska who was mentioned in the course and I will write about in here.  I was also inspired by the photographer Takashi Yasumura in his photographic series “Domestic Scandals 2005) while searching in this area.

Penny Klepuszewska:

Klepuszewska Focused on life in old age and issues regarding isolation and loneliness in her series “Living Arrangements”.  She explores the space and objects that we surround ourselves with.  With her process of collection and collaborations and eye-catching photographs she managed to create both the real and fiction world.

Klepuszewska managed to trace the human existence of the elderly people in the homes or shelters they end up in living alone and it becoming their island of isolation.  She focused on things rather than humans carefully composing her photographs to represent domestic interiors and daily home life.

 

 

The carefully folded blanket or shawl on the chair, the individual plate with spoon, the folded hands on the table, the singular red chair and bag.  All of the things that gives us the feeling of calmness, isolation, separation and trembling feeling of loneliness.

 

 

Klepuszewska also payed attention to lighting, colours, shapes and backgrounds which added beauty to the images and made it more appealing such as the blue accent colour of the hanger in the wardrobe, the light blue cup against the similar muted earth colors of the brown objects, the minimalist capture of the light bulb and red table, the depth of field in the folded hands on the table and the empty plate with spoon. The background is always black and dark which helped focus on the objects and added to the feeling of isolation.

The series left me with sadness and a bitter feeling and made me understand the feeling of the elderly people without them being in the photographs.   It shows how the focus on the overlooked and the unimportant objects can evoke feelings and memories and serve to remind one of meaningful things.

 

Takashi Yasumura:

Takashi Yasumura is a photographer who lives and works in Tokyo.  His work “Domestic Scandals” reframe our attention to the interior domestic object world and quality of everyday life which we do not pay much attention to.  It proves that they are no longer familiar when presented in photographs.

The photographer demands us to look at the banal aspect of the domestic interior such as  doors, watering hose, a pink stapler, rubber gloves etc and offer their materiality to us so we can notice what’s compelling about them, and what might be odd or unusual.

 

 

Domestic Scandals project does not generate a narrative when put as collective images instead they ask us to view things and turn them into objects by Yasumura’s attention to the traditional and modern, the useful and the decorative, the patterns, texture and quality of the surrounding surfaces.

 


Bibliography / References:

Churchill , L. (2011). Occupation: ruin, repudiation, revolution: constructed space conceptualized.  Abingdon: Routledge.

Curtain University.  Domestic Things: Takashi Yasumura’s interiors. [online].  IDEA. Available from: http://idea-edu.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/P45.pdf   [Accessed 19 June, 2017].

University of the Arts London.  The Sproxton Award of Photography:  Penny Klepuszewska  [online].  University of the Arts London. Available from: http://www.sproxtonphotographyaward.org/winners/penny-klepuszewska/   [Accessed 19 June, 2017].

 

 

 

Images and Text (2)

Artists combine words and images to create a twist in the connection viewers make of the images and texts’ narratives.  Roger Hilton, an abstract painter quoted: “Words and paintings don’t go together” referring to the explanatory text we usually see of a certain painting.  He believes that one can understand a painting better by just looking at it, the more words that are written to explain the painting; the less people will see the painting.

However, text being part of the image may create a twist, portray emotional experience, enhance the experience of viewing and stimulate imagination.  Combining both image and text in photography prompt different set of questions for the viewer. The viewer will look at the image, interpret it, read the text, get clues from the text, goes back to the image and reinterpret it. Peg Grady, a contemporary artist loves using text in her artwork, she explains that it slows people down and draws them to see the piece.

Text can reinforce a message but can also mislead if a misleading title is used for example. The strength of that leads the viewer to believe in one thing or another.  The result provokes unexpected responses and forces the viewer to make an assumption or question the work.  It gives the mind a space to think and unfold a story of its own.  Some artists like to include handwritten text to their images such as Francesca Woodman and Duane Michals for example, to convey personal thoughts and emotions and to invite the viewer to get closer to the image and engage with the artist on one to one basis and it is up to the viewer to make a connection and give a meaning to the narrative.

Johanna Ward:

In her series “I shall say goodbye with my strengthening love for you, forever and ever”, Johanna ward draws upon the narratives of her parents’ relationship until their separation using combination of landscape, still life, photographs of domestic life and love letters from the late seventies.  She draws on myth, private emotions and fairy tales using the text of a love letter from her father to her mother.

From the series ‘I shall say goodbye…’

© Johanna Ward

From the series ‘I shall say goodbye…’

© Johanna Ward

From the series ‘I shall say goodbye…’

© Johanna Ward

From the series ‘I shall say goodbye…’

© Johanna Ward

 

The landscapes in Ward’s photographs are rich in memory and it gives the viewer the chance to connect to it.  Her ability to capture the inherent beauty and provide context and narrative to her series is fascinating.  Ward used the images to visualize the text in a way that invites the reader to take part of her storytelling and create their own interpretations to the work.

Below is a video of the photographer’s photo book:

I Shall Say Goodbye with my Strengthening Love for You, Forever and Ever

L A Noble Gallery

 


Bibliography / References:

Alexander, J. (2015).  Johanna Ward: ‘I shall say goodbye…’  [online]. Perspective on Place. Available from: https://perspectivesonplace.wordpress.com/tag/johanna-ward/ [Accessed 22 March, 2017].

Artspan.  Words & Pictures   [online]. Available from: http://www.artspan.com/art-articles/136/Words%20%26%20Pictures [Accessed 25 March, 2017].

Dennis, J., D. Combining Image and Text in Photography and Art [online]. Available from: https://juliedawndennis.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/combining-image-and-text/ [Accessed 25 March, 2017].

Noble, L. Telling Tales #4 Johanna Ward [online]. Laura Noble Blog. Available from: http://lauraannnoble.blogspot.ae/2014/06/telling-tales-4-johanna-ward.html [Accessed 22 March, 2017].

Images and Text (1)

“Placing words and images in the same perceptual space is not as easy as it looks. The artist has to keep track of four phenomena, not just the apparent two. First, the words have accepted, coded meanings and contexts that affect what we see in the adjacent images. Second, the words invoke mental images that might also conflict with what we see. Third, images have meanings and contexts that may alter our engagement with the adjacent words. Fourth, images can call up words in the mind of the viewer. The coordination of image/word/word/image is not easy, but the more difficult it is, the more possibilities present themselves for qualifying or clarifying the larger world”. – Rod Slemmons Conversations: Text and Image

Karen Knorr:  Belgravia

A German born American photographer who lives in London (January 5, 1954).  Her black and white series (Belgravia) combines images and text to describe class and power between international and wealthy during the beginning of Thatcherism in London during 1979 and 1981.  The photographs are non portraits meaning they are not to show the truth of the people in the photographs or their ideas, they all remain anonymous.

Knorr used the witty combination of the text and image to provoke humor and exaggeration.  She used key words that can be found within the text to create meaning to the work.  The photograph and text do not illustrate each other.  Her text are laid in a poetic style.  Her photographs are staged where she goes to the people homes and choose the scene and clothes then talks to her models and constructs the text during the conversation.

Knorr enjoys seducing the viewer into making them think about what she is presenting through the captions and beauty of the image.

As seen from the images above, Knorr has worked on the presentation of the text quite well.  She used what Roland Berger calls the third meaning.  We look at the beauty of the images, make our own assumptions then read the text below and go back and forth to the image and text to re-evaluate.  The text is broken into lines similar to poetry and Knorr chose the font and capitalized the key words in her text such as Habitat in the left image and Privilege in the next.

Looking at Knorr’s work makes it clear to me that we should pay a lot of consideration to the text and image and the relationship between them.  The font as well as the way the text should be presented is also an important thing to look at when wanting to convey ideas using both image and text.

“I’m an artist who works with pictures and words. Sometimes that stuff ends up in different kinds of sites and contexts which determine what it means and looks like”. – Barbara Kruger.

The meaning of a photograph can be altered by how they are situated and presented especially if text is added.

Sophie Calle:

France most famous conceptual artist.  She uses images and text in her work.  She said she added text because maybe her photographs were not good at the beginning, she claims she didn’t read for Roland Barthes or others because simply she doesn’t read!

She became a stalker in her piece “Suite Vénitienne” when she stalked a stranger she once met at a party and she followed him to Venice and started taking photos of him using a woman’s room opposite to his.

She also became a thief when she found a stranger’s Address book on a street and copied the numbers before returning it.  She then contacted the numbers asking for a description of the owner.

In her work “Sleepers”, she invited 29 people to sleep in her bed while she observed them sleeping and eating breakfast served by her.  Her most powerful work was “Take Care of Yourself” where she sent a breakup text she got from her lover and sent it to 107 women requesting their reactions.

I find Calle a very interesting artist and I enjoyed listening to her lecture, she is sarcastic with a dry sense of humor and very creative.  I loved her story about her mum’s ring and Channel necklace.  She took them after her mother died and buried them in a glacier in the North Pole because her mother’s dream was to go there.

Below is a video of a lecture by her.  Although the quality of the video is not very clear but the lecture itself is worth to listen to.

Lecture by Sophie Calle

California College of the Arts – CCA


Bibliography / References:

Barker, S.  Karen Knorr : Belgravia   [online]. The Eye Of Photography.  Available from: http://www.loeildelaphotographie.com/en/2015/11/05/article/159876158/karen-knorr-belgravia/ [Accessed 18 March, 2017].

Barrest, T. (5 ed) (2011).  Criticizing Photographs. New York:  McGraw-Hill.

Jeffries, S.  Sophie Calle: stalker, stripper, sleeper, spy   [online]. The Guardian. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/sep/23/sophie-calle [Accessed 19 March, 2017].

Knorr, K. Belgravia (1979 – 1981) [online].  Available from: http://karenknorr.com/photography/belgravia/ [Accessed 18 March, 2017].

O’Hagan, S. Strangers, secrets and desire: the surreal world of Sophie Calle [online]. The Guardian. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/mar/04/strangers-secrets-and-desire-the-surreal-world-of-sophie-calle [Accessed 19 March, 2017].

Slemmons, R.  Conversations: Text and Image (Feb 26 — Apr 17, 2004) [online]. Museum Of Contemporary Photography. Available from: http://www.mocp.org/exhibitions/2000/4/conversations-text-and-image.php  [Accessed 18 March, 2017].

Woodward, D. (2015).  Belgravia by Karen Knorr  [online]. AnOther.  Available from: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/7811/belgravia-by-karen-knorr [Accessed 18 March, 2017].

Fictional Text: Redheaded Peckerwood by Christian Patterson

Redheaded Peckerwood is a book by Christian Patterson based on a true crime story of teen serial killers “Charles Starkweather”, a 20 years old boy from Nebraska and his 14 years old girlfriend “Caril Fugate” who murdered 10 people.

The book is very disturbing yet a beautiful narrative tragic story.  Patterson included documents, and objects that belong to the killers and their victims such as maps, poems, confession letter, stuffed animal and others.  His book is very intriguing and provokes emotions.  It gives the viewer the chance to be more curious as it reveals bits and pieces of the crime.

Patterson followed the trail of the duo serial killers across Nebraska and documented every landscape, building, murder sites, personal letters and talked to local people, police officers and strangers.

©Christian Patterson

Patterson started his project by reading everything that is written about this crime story, he watched every film that dealt with the story, basically everything that is related to this crime.  He explained that:

“The book is a reflection of this process. Its photographs, documents and objects are often highly specific and true to the story but are at other times highly interpretative and subjective”.

The story is part factual such as the documents, details and discoveries and part fictive as in some photographs, paintings and shotgun blast as it is made up by the artist.

Redheaded Peckerwood is presented as a visual mysterious puzzle with clues for the viewer to connect and solve.

Christian Patterson talks about Redheaded Peckerwood
TransformerStation


Bibliography / References:

Augschöll, D.,  Jasbar, A.  Interview with Christian Patterson [online]. Ahorn Magazine. Available from: http://www.ahornmagazine.com/issue_9/interview_patterson/interview_patterson.html [Accessed 6 March, 2017].

Christian Patterson.  Redheaded Peckerwood  [online]. Available from: http://www.christianpatterson.com/redheaded-peckerwood/#1 [Accessed 6 March, 2017].

MACK. Christian Patterson Redheaded Peckerwood [online]. MACK. Available from: http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/15-redheaded-peckerwood.html [Accessed 6 March, 2017].

Sean O’Hagan. Christian Patterson Goes on The Trial of America’s Natural Bown Killers  [online]. The Guardian. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/dec/01/christian-patterson-photos-redheaded-peckerwood [Accessed 6 March, 2017].

The Written Word

Pictures speak differently than words.  They tell us about the sociohistorical context of its making while the words or captions are used to help simplify and identify the elements of the scene and it provides further information and description of the image.

American photographer Duane Michals born in February 18, 1932 is known for his hand written words on images, photo sequences (cinema frame by frame format) and montages.  The writing plays a significant role in Michals photography.  Michals do not believe that photographs is worth a thousand words, as it would not tell much about the subject he portrays.  He states that sixty percent of his work is photography while the rest is writing.  His text communicate narratives in a poetic, tragic and humorous way such as his work “Grandpa Goes to Heaven”.

img_0308img_0309img_0310img_0311

img_0312

©Duane Michals

Jim Goldberg is a Magnum photographer known for his project “Raised By Wolves”.  The project combines photographs, text, drawings, movie stills, snapshots, and diaries that document the lives of runaway teenagers in America.  I found the video quite disturbing but I think it should be as it conveyed the message but it was hard for me to watch.

His other work that strikes me though is “Open See”.  Golberg photographed the lives of immigrants and those hoping to have a better life in Europe.  His photographs were written on by the people whom he portrayed in their own language which makes the viewer more curious about what is written.

 

Goldberg portrayed the man against a white wall and outlined him in red while the young man has written all over his portrait in his own language.  Goldberg’s photographs are mysterious and self questioning, he tends to approach his photographs using variety of mediums.  Here we can see how he incorporated text with photographs and asking the subjects to integrate their own writing in their own language on the portraits gives the idea of documentary storytelling.  Goldberg states that most of his work is about memory and loss.

“I can’t let go of the desire, the impulse, to want to believe in a society where things really will get better.  And, if nothing else, I hold out hope that my photographs and all the people I met can at least still speak for themselves.” – Jim Goldberg 

 

 


Bibliography / References:

Aaron Schuman.  Interview:  “Open See” – In Conversation With Jim Goldberg 2011.  [online].  Seesaw.  Available from: http://www.seesawmagazine.com/jimgoldberginterview/jimgoldberginterview.html [Accessed 1 March, 2017].

DC Moore Gallery.  Duane Michals  [online]. Available from: http://www.dcmooregallery.com/artists/duane-michals?view=slider#21 [Accessed 1 March, 2017].

Eugene Reznik (2014). Interview:  Duane Michals on 50 Years Of Sequences and Staging Photos [online]. American Photo. Available from: http://www.americanphotomag.com/interview-duane-michals-50-years-sequences-and-staging-photos [Accessed 1 March, 2017].

Jim Goldberg.  Open See [online].  Magnum Photos.  Available from:  https://www.magnumphotos.com/newsroom/conflict/jim-goldberg-open-see/ [Accessed 1 March, 2017].

Randy Kennedy. This Is What Wealthy Looked Like.  Jim Goldberg Hopes His Pictures Still Make a Difference [online]. The New York Times. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/arts/design/jim-goldberg-hopes-his-pictures-still-make-a-difference.html?_r=0 [Accessed 1 March, 2017].

Siobhan Bohnacker. The Last Sentimentalist:  A Q. & A. with Duane Michals [online]. The New Yorker. Available from: http://projects.newyorker.com/portfolio/michals-empty-ny/ [Accessed 1 March, 2017].

Wells, L. (ed) (2003) The Photography Reader. Abingdon: Routledge.

 

 

(Hjordis, I Miss You) by photographer Erik Simander

Witnessing my grandmother losing my grandfather (her husband) and staying over with her, I so relate to Erik Simander’s series (Hjordis, I Miss You).  My grandparents were so close to each other, my grandmother told me after he passed away: “I never saw this coming, I thought we would stay together forever! We never once had a big fight”.  It was hard seeing her not able to cope with her loss, she did not want to leave the house she lived in with him although I offered to have her live with me to take a better care of her.  Simander brought back so many memories with his series.

Erik Simander is a Swedish photographer, his series (Hjordis, I Miss You) was created after the death of his grandmother.  Simander stayed with his grandfather who suffered from AMD (age-related macular degeneration) after losing his partner.  Simander recorded his grief over his wife and how he was coping with the situation living in an empty home.

(Hjordis, I Miss You) by ©Erik Simander

The series conveys lots of emotions and connects the viewer to his own experiences.  Simander’s images are subtle and quiet, sort of Scandinavian style photography.  Everything is organised and details are rich in meaning but in a very minimalistic simple style.

 


Bibliography / References:

Erik Simander. Hjördis, du fattas mig  [online]. Available from: http://www.eriksimander.com [Accessed 27, February 2017].

FotoRoom.  Hjordis, I Miss You — Erik Simander Takes Heart-Breaking Photos of His Widowed Grandfather  [online]. Available from: http://fotoroom.co/hjordis-i-miss-you-erik-simander/ [Accessed 27, February 2017].

Lensculture. Awards:  Erik Simander [online]. Lens Culture.  Available from: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/erik-simander-hjordis-i-miss-you [Accessed 27, February 2017].

Images and Texts: Rhetoric of the Image: Roland Barthes (1964)

‘Taking photographs out of the boxes at random, he tried to look into the faces without seeking either signs or secrets…To keep himself from getting pulled into these faces’ stories, he avoided reading the captions …’ – Orhan Pamuk, The Black Book (2006: 282-3)

Image-text relationships has been shaped by the writing of Roland Barthes.  Barthes identified three possible image-text relations, text supporting image (Anchorage), image supporting Text (Illustration) and the two being equal (Relay).

The Anchorage is the most common one.  It can be found in news photos and advertising while others where there is a complementarity between image and text can be found in cartoons and films, it is where the text helps to move the action forward.

Image and text are unequal in status if one of them overcomes the other trying to modify it.  The modifying element is considered to be dependent on the modified one.  If both image and text are joined equally with no sign of modification from one element on the other; it’s considered independent.  When both image and text are equal and modify each other it’s considered complementary.

Rhetoric of the Image: Roland Barthes (1964):

 

img_0267

Panzani Advertisement

Barthes used the advertising image of (Panzani) to address the different messages conveyed by a system of sign.

Barthes explains that the word image comes from a Latin term meaning “imitation” and he uses the advertising image to evaluate the true function of the images and the messages they convey:

The Linguistic Message:

Its support are the captions and the labels.  The sign Panzani is the name of the firm as well as its assonance and it suggests Italianicity.

The Symbolic Message:

The idea of the image the advertisement represents is:

  • Return from market.
  • freshness of products
  • The half-open bag signifies unpacked.
  • The tomato, the pepper hue colours (yellow, green and red) signifies Italy flag (Italianicity).

Other signs are:

  • Culinary service which is represented by the different objects in the image.
  • Overall composition of the image evokes reminiscent of a still life.

 

The Literal Message:

The non coded message in the image is that a signifier and a signified are the same which means the tomato in the image signifies a tomato and the same goes for the pepper and other objects in the image.

In “Rhetoric of the Image” Barthes gives an example of an Italian pasta brand that is aimed at the French customer.  Barthes addresses the message that the viewer not understanding the things spoken does not stand on the way of associating Italian with quality pasta.

 


Bibliography / References:

Barthes, R.  Rhetoric of the Image [online]. Available from:  https://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Barthes-Rhetoric-of-the-image-ex.pdf [Accessed 17, February 2017].

Dulcie M. Engel. Every Picture Tells a Story: The Language and Function of French Newspaper Captions  [online]. Available from: http://wjfms.ncl.ac.uk/engel.pdf [Accessed 17, February 2017].

McCabe, H. (2009). The Rhetoric Of The Image – Roland Barthes (1964) [online]. Traces of the Real.  Available from: https://tracesofthereal.com/2009/12/21/the-rhetoric-of-the-image-roland-barthes-1977/ [Accessed 17, February 2017].

Martinec R., Salway A.  A System for Image-Text Relations in New (and Old) Media [online]. Available from: http://www.bbrel.co.uk/pdfs/06Martinec-Salway.pdf [Accessed 17, February 2017].

The Cultural Reader (2011).  Roland Barthes / Rhetoric of the Image – Summary, Notes and Reviews.  Available from:  http://culturalstudiesnow.blogspot.ae/2011/08/roland-barthes-rhetoric-of-image.html  [Accessed 17, February 2017].

Windows: Memory and the Gaze

Hirsch Marianne (POSTMEMORY definition)

Photos are like a unique aroma from childhood.  A certain scent or perfume would take me back to memories linked to a smell that is linked to part of my life.  For example, a perfume called (nude) reminds me of my days at college when I used to wear that perfume and it brings back memories.  Photos are the same.  When images were first made; their role was to evoke the appearance of something that was absent then represent how somebody looked like or how others remember him.  Photos became records that are more precise and rich than any other type of art.  However, when an image is used to be presented as an art work; people see it in a different way making different assumptions about it.  Those assumptions concerning its beauty, form, taste and truth.

Studies showed the person’s direction of gaze whether direct or avert impacts his/her future memorability.  According to Baron-Cohen (995), detecting the presence of eyes and determining where they are looking is one of the primary objectives of the social brain (brothers, 1990).  The way we see things is affected by what we believe or know.

Gaze means looking long and steadily with affection and admiration or surprise or thought.  It was a term that was put into usage by a Psychoanalyst called Jacques Lucan.  Lacan argues that the subject loses sense of self when realizing that he or she is a visible object.  Jean Paul Sartre a French Philosopher regard gaze as a place of conflict between the self to define and redefine itself.  When we are confronted with the gaze of the others; we become aware of our self as object.  The gaze of others robs us of our freedom as a subject.

Gaze is considered an important way of communication.  There are several forms and types of gaze in photography:

  • The spectator’s gaze:  the gaze of the viewer at an image of a person or an animal or an object.
  • The intra-diegetic gaze:  the gaze of one portrayed person to another within the same image.
  • The direct [or extra-diegetic] address to the viewer:  the gaze of a person portrayed in the image looking out of the frame as if at the viewer.
  • The look of the camera:  the gaze of the photographer (the way the camera looks at people).
  • The gaze of a bystander:  the gaze of another individual in the viewer’s social world catching the latter in the act of viewing.
  • The averted gaze:  the portrayed person looking away from the camera deliberately avoiding the photographer or viewer such as looking up or down or away.
  • The gaze of an audience within the text:  an audience watching those performing in the ‘text within a text’.
  • The editorial gaze:  ‘the whole institutional process by which some portion of the photographer’s gaze is chosen for use and emphasis’ (Lutz & Collins 1994, 368).

Looking into my archives; I found portraits that are examples of some of the types of gazes (click on images to view):

 


Bibliography / References:

Bruce M. Hood, C. Neil Macrae, Malia F. Mason (2004).  Look into my eyes: Gaze direction and person memory [online].  Memory.  Available from:  http://www.ucp.pt/site/resources/documents/ICS/GNC/ArtigosGNC/AnaMariaAbreu/16_MaHoMa04.pdf [Accessed 17, December 2016].

Catherine Lutz, Jane Collins. The Photograph as an Intersection of Gazes:  The Example of National Geographic. [online]. Visual Anthropology Review.  Available from: https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/nationalgeographic_gaze.pdf [Accessed 17, December 2016]

Daniel Chandler.  Notes on The Gaze:  Forms of Gaze. [online]. Available from: http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/gaze/gaze02.html [Accessed 17, December 2016]

Joh Berger.  Ways of Seeing. [online]. Available from: http://waysofseeingwaysofseeing.com/ways-of-seeing-john-berger-5.7.pdf [Accessed 17, December 2016]

The Chicago School of Media Theory.  Gaze. [online]. Available from: https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/mediatheory/keywords/gaze/ [Accessed 17, December 2016]

Portraiture

Human face is an important key to identification based on appearance and also the field of expressive action, filled with variety of looks open to different interpretations.

“Most portraits exhibit a formal stillness.  Either the sitter composes himself or the portraitist does it to indicate the solemnity of the occasion and timelessness of the portrait image as a general, often generous statement, summing up ‘a life'”.  (Brilliant,  1991) page 10.

Physical appearance is naturally visible yet it is unstable.  The rest is abstract and has to be expressed symbolically.  The artist depends on his memory of the subject and his own analysis of the character in order to express an individual’s personality.

Every picture belongs to the present memory of the individual represented.  It is an increase of being that is determined by personal significance.  That means the individual in the portrait tends to represent himself and the portrait represents him as he appears in the eyes of the people near him.

The great difficulty about pictures is the reception given to a portrait by the viewer.  If the viewer is someone close or familiar with the person portrayed, conflict may occur regarding representation.  The viewer might not see the resemblance between the portrait and the person portrayed even though it is the same person.  The camera might fail to take an honest picture.  That’s because the photographer might have made a false assumption about the appearance of the person he/she portrayed.

Portrait is like a caricature if it does not present a convincing likeness of the sitter; it is not a successful portrait.

Brilliant Richard in his book “Portraiture” states that the power in the likeness can be recognized even by a hungry tiger referring to a news item in The New York Times of 5 September 1989 about the Ganges Delta in India where Bengal tigers have been attacking woodcutters from behind.  The woodcutters started wearing face masks on the back of their heads and since then no one has been killed.

Full face portrait function as “I – You” relation. The sitter portrayed and the viewer speak as if looking at each other. ‘Looking at me, you look at me looking at you’.

Portraits establish the circumstances of the gaze and shapes the psychological process that involves the viewer in answering questions presented by the portrait “Who is” the “You” that I am looking at?

“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter.  The sitter is merely an accident, the occasion .  It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself”. – Oscar Wilde.


 

Bibliography / References:

Brilliant, R. (1991). Portraiture.  London:  Reaktion Books.