“…no soul without profundity…” I Barbari – Alessandro Baricco
I often happen , and I am perfectly aware, to talk about Photography assuming - venial sin but not too much - that who is reading about this topic understands this “term” the same way as I do. This is an original sin that I want immediately to dispel on the attempt of discussing with everybody. Even with those I intimately consider “impure”… eh, eh. Because, first of all, everyone has his/her own karma and secondly, the paths leading to the need of producing images are the most different. Even if less and less clear and more and more… channeled.
However, I believe that before talking about the cure it would be fair and constructive to talk about the Disease and about its forms. Photography, then. Even the secular and accurate Italian Dictionary “Devoto-Oli”, icily, defines it: Photochemical process through which… And just in a “minor” definition: Faithful depiction or description. Fortunately, the certainly more plebeian and often braggart, or at least… flighty, Wikipedia, gives a little bit of credit to Mrs. Photography defining it from its Greek etymology “Light Drawing”.
Light drawing. Well, but if we draw a parallel with something apparently less similar, at least for the hardware, pen writing, for example, how many types of writing exist? Could we define a doodle, a scribble, a number of random or non sense letters or words as writing? A twit as the Divine Comedy? I think the same way about Photography.
Yes, I am well aware that technology has set us free from the masochism
of analogical (brrr !) photography (endless films, focus, hyperfocal, depth of field, light measurement, exposure, development and print) thus making the object camera, when such, more and more similar to the ballpoint pen and
to its difficulties. But in an aggressive, invasive and exclusive way, to the extent that the “high” thinking of Roland Barthes * (1980) “In an initial period, Photography, in order to surprise, photographs the notable; but soon, by a familiar reversal, it decrees notable whatever it photographs” after only three years, was brought back to more earthly levels by Vilém Flusser ** (1983) who states “By now, due to the excessive power of the industrial companies, we see too often photographic apparatuses equipped with a human being as functionary.. Inasmuch, human beings and apparatuses (when we are lucky) are bound up. And subjugated.”
Therefore, my concept of Photography – an instrument to tell a story and, therefore, closer to Literature than Painting, but still being a mediation for reality – is also at risk of “inner conflict” with the common mistake to change the finger for the moon. And in order to tell a story it has to contain, somehow, answers to the universal questions: who, how, where, when and why! Well, here we are again... eh, eh. Meanwhile, the Disease goes on. In 2014, according to a Yahoo source, the pictures taken will be “at least” 880 billion. How many of those will meet the necessary requirements to be considered as such? At last, some food for thought, do you agree?
* Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida (Hill & Wang) ** Vilém Flusser - Towards a Philosophy of Photography (Reaktion Books)