Unreal Nature

July 5, 2017

Nimbus or Fog

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:50 am

… Photography is essentially a way of making the world look back at the viewer.

Final post from The Photograph: A Strange Confined Space by Mary Price (1994):

Benjamin’s concept of aura has been critical in this discussion. It, as well as mask, holds the possibilities of both revealing and concealing, nimbus or fog. The critical point of Benjamin’s formulation is that the “seen,” the phenomenal world, does not count for aura. While he theorizes about the aura surrounding the sacred object and the disintegration of aura with the invention of mechanical means of reproduction, his own descriptions of photographs encourage further speculation about the imagined existence of aura. The aura of the photograph is the aura of the very temporality Benjamin recognizes in photography, the aura of reality, contradicting his first premise, that the phenomenal world does not have aura.

… Secular aura, as well as the traditional aura of the sacred, has to have something real to associate with itself. It cannot just float around like smoke.

… skepticism is not appropriate for photography because the photograph must be imprinted with what has been presented to the camera; it must literally receive something physical from out there, if only what can be described as interrupted light. This is the factuality of the photograph. The photograph authenticates the objects. The objects authenticate the photograph. The pleasures of factuality consist in acquiring or recognizing information, in achieving through verisimilitude the “resonance of the specific,” the “resonance of fact.”

If the specific has resonance, it is in subservience to a larger referential scheme. The question in photography is how to substantiate a claim that such a scheme may exist, when the limiting condition of the photograph is that its subject matter cannot be the invention of the photographer.

… Photography is essentially a way of making the world look back at the viewer. The fascination of photographs consists partly in the knowledge that peering into a photograph, studying it closely, will result not in finding ideas but in recovering what may be identified as reality; then in an instantaneous process ideas will be constructed to account for that reality. Ideas may exist already prepared to seize the appropriate visual conformation.

… The individual figure, photographer or viewer, enters a looking-glass land with eyes wide open, but cannot immediately interpret what he sees. To photograph is one way of arresting time in order to contemplate it.

My most recent previous post from Price’s book is here.

-Julie

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