Unreal Nature

October 5, 2016

The Tension Generated

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… what the camera shows is more important to me than what I choose to photograph.

This is from the essay ‘Photography and Art in My Case. What is Shot by the Camera? That is the Question for Now’ by Enokura Kōji [1972] found in Provoke: Between Protest and Performance: Photography in Japan 1960-1975 edited by Diane Dufour, Duncan Forbes, Walter Moser, and Matthew S. Witkovsky (2016):

… ordinary objects engulf our bodies, and our bodies become completely absorbed in them; this is the most fundamental interaction between bodies and objects. Yet our bodies tend to weaken or amplify this tension by involving the subjective self and our subjective illusions, dragging this tension into the world of our subjectivities. As a result, the quality of the tension present at this first moment of contact with the object is completely transformed.

[line break added] Similarly, to see and photograph an object through the camera’s viewfinder is to dominate that object by using the camera as a machine. It is to feel a certain tension in an object and to entangle that tension in our own subjectivity. However, the tension we felt during our initial contact with the object is transformed on its own.

[line break added] The image shown in the viewfinder and the tension generated from direct contact with the object are entirely different in nature. This is precisely because the eyes that look through the viewfinder belong to the human body, while the photograph is an image seen through the camera’s eye. The human eye can never maintain that fundamental tension with its subject matter.

… humans can be conscious of being in absolute darkness by being conscious of the feelings of darkness and realizing that they cannot visually observe (the human equivalent of the camera mechanism). Humans can thus capture darkness. Meanwhile, to a camera, darkness just means the impossibility of taking an image. One comforting benefit of the camera mechanism as an optical machine is that it rescues us from our swelling, vulgar emotions.

[line break added] I take photographs for no other reason than to experience the tension that exists between objects and myself, using the camera — the optical machine — as a mediator. In other words, I don’t press the shutter because it is a means to perceive, nor am I driven by an impulse to shoot. Rather, I try my best to press the shutter amid the tension between the objects and myself. When I look at objects, the camera comes into contact with the objects as well.

[line break added] Thus, what the camera shows is more important to me than what I choose to photograph. I wish to treat the viewfinder as part of the camera and present what it shows as a unique space in its raw state. By doing so, I reject enlarging the world seen through the viewfinder with unrestricted interpretations; I thereby seek to liberate the camera’s viewfinder from the human eye.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.




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