Photo Opportunities: Object or -ness?

After conducting an online keyword search and sifting through photo sharing sites, Swiss/French artist Corinne Vionnet carefully layers 200 to 300 photos on top of one another until she gets her desired result.

We are looking at a monument that we somehow already know. As a part of knowing that we have also been there, we need the photograph to fix the memory of our visit. By pressing the shutter button, time becomes event, a unique moment. The significance of the representation of the subject is shifted to the presence of the photographers themselves.

The images made by tourists are picture imitations. They demonstrate the desire to produce a photograph of an image that already exists, one like those we have already seen. It is in fact a style of manipulating the viewer. Why do we always take the same picture, if not to interact with what already exists? The photograph proves our presence. And to be true, the picture will be perfectly consistent with the pictures in our collective memory.”They demonstrate the desire to produce a photograph of an image that already exists, one like those we have already seen. It is in fact a style of manipulating the viewer. Why do we always take the same picture, if not to interact with what already exists? The photograph proves our presence. And to be true, the picture will be perfectly consistent with the pictures in our collective memory.”

[Interview with Welmer Keesmaat in YVI #2 Consumption, 2008]

It’s not so much the sheer quantity of photos available on the Internet, appropriated through total strangers without their knowledge, as well as examining photography simply as a record, or the gee-ain’t-that-neat technical meme of digitally “creating an Impressionist painting” but the similarity of the resulting images that is truly startling because it confronts our ideals about expectations and memory. How do we envision a place, person or event to look, in terms of appearance, in anticipation (before it happens), or reflection (after it happens) of the subject? I think it would look something like these photographs. Hundreds of pictures of the thing from slightly different angles, but not an exact representation of the thing itself. Plato’s cave. What is real? The shadows on the wall? The objects creating the shadows? Or the light behind them? …What is more important in human consciousness in imagined and expressed visual and verbal expectations and memories of a person or thing? The Eiffel Tower the Object? Or capturing/narrating Eiffel-Towerness?

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