Study Hangout 19/11/2017

Today I attended a study hangout with Anne, Bryn and Michael. We talked about very in depth subjects surrounding the ethics of photography including authentication of photographs as documents, subjectivity in photography related to the myth of objectivity, the death of the author and manipulation of the message. We related these in depth subjects with photography artists; the most prominent of these artists being Sebastião Salgado, closely followed by Don McCullin and then Martin Parr. Michael introduced us to the work of Simon Norfolk briefly who I aim to look at more closely as his work at first glance looked very interesting. I was not sure why our conversation was so theoretical but it may have been something to do with 75% of us having commenced work on the critical review or having just submitted it!

Balloon Vendor in Kabul - 2001 - From the Series: "Forensic Traces of War" © Simon Norfolk
Balloon Vendor in Kabul – 2001 – From the Series: “Forensic Traces of War” © Simon Norfolk

My opinions on the listed subjects were that it is very difficult to authenticate documents like photographs 100% as the viewer can usually interpret the evidence of photography being an indexical medium differently. This is even if supporting documents like text or (to a lesser degree) geotagging are included. I felt objectivity is a myth yet it is still possible to shoot in an objective style. Ultimately all photography is subjective (as even objective photography has its own aesthetic) but I would suggest some photography is more subjective than others. Relating to the death of the author, my stance was that this is true nowadays much more with the proliferation of images and ways of sharing them. Now it is not about who took the photograph but what the photograph depicts. The message of any photograph can be manipulated by means of supporting documents and other context like the photographer’s oeuvre.

We talked about the contrast in transparency of message between Salgado and McCullin where McCullin was very decisive in why he took photographs of war while Salgado’s reasoning seems more layered and less clear. We touched upon how my own critical review was going and I divulged that maybe the topic I’d chosen was proving to be too broad and therefore lacking direction. Finding relevant quotes and supporting work or photographs to back up my particular argument seemed like a way of tackling this.

4 thoughts on “Study Hangout 19/11/2017

  1. “I felt objectivity is a myth yet it is still possible to shoot in an objective style.”

    I like that…might have to steal it! Interestung reflection on the fact that our conversations have become more theoretically based-I wonder if this is the influence of the course or because we are more comfortable exploring this having ‘met’ and built up a relationship through the hangouts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael,

      Yes, it took me a while to come to the conclusion that you can shoot in an objective style but not be particularly objective but of course, you may steal it!!

      I think it may be a combination of the course and us having ‘met’, why our conversations have become more theoretical!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for reflecting on our last hangout Johnathan.

    I agree with Michael having a rapport over a number of hangouts there is a sense of continuation as opposed to forming and introduction. That said with three of us at the critical review stage and Michael’s in depth knowledge will have contributed too.

    I’m also thinking about how to simplify the message for the critical review. In someways I think how I approached the Ethics of Aesthetics exercise was more concise, and perhaps this just needs expanding and referencing rather than going down a rabbit hole.


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