Evidencing The Digital


Deepwater Horizon by Tom Estes- created for BP Loud Tate.  In the work artist Tom Estes pixelated a work from the Tate collection


Paul Levinson  emphasised the ability of photography to capture or reflect “a literal energy configuration from the real world” through a chemical process. Light sensitive emulsion on the photographic negative is, according to Levinson transformed by light passing through the lens and diaphragm of a camera. Levinson relates this characteristic of the photograph to its objectivity and reliability, echoing Andre Bazin’s belief that photography is free from the “sin” of subjectivity.

The camera record and justifies. A photograph passes for incontrovertible proof that a given thing happened. Photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we’re shown a photograph of it. In one version of its utility, the camera records and incriminates. Originating with their use by the Paris police in the roundup of Communards in June 1871, photographs became a tool of modern states in the surveillance and control of their increasingly mobile populations.

‘Truth claim’ refers to any concept or doctrine that says it alone is the truth and other opinions are false. In her book ‘On Photography’, Susan Sontag challenges the “presumption of veracity” associated with photographs, arguing that they are “as much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are”.  She describes the role of the photographer in determining the exposure, light, texture and geometry of a photograph. Today the digitisation of photography undermines “the very reliability of the photograph as mute, unbiased witness of reality”because of the fallibility of technological manipulation and the potential for human refinement of production.

The photograph may present another version of reality, and the picture may distort; but there is always a presumption that something exists, or did exist, which resembles what is in the picture. Whatever the limitations (through amateurism) or pretensions (through artistry) of the individual photographer, a photograph — any photograph — seems to have a more innocent, and therefore more accurate, relation to visible reality than do other mimetic objects.

The ‘truth claim’ of photography was the term used by Tom Gunning to describe a prevalent belief that traditional photographs accurately depicted reality. He stated that the truth claim relies upon both the indexicality and visual accuracy of photographs. 

Photographs, which fiddle with the scale of the world, themselves get reduced, blown up, cropped, retouched, doctored, tricked out. They age, plagued by the usual ills of paper objects; they disappear; they become valuable, and get bought and sold; they are reproduced. In the above image, photographer Alexander Khokhlov and make-up artist Valeriya Kutsan have come up with a project to transform models faces into 2D images along with Veronica Ershova who had led the process of retouching and post-production. In this instance the optical takes precedence over such traditional elements as subject and pictorial space in a desire to evidence the illusionism in photography.

To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge — and, therefore, like power. The term ‘indexicality’, coined by Charles Sanders Peirce, refers to the physical relationship between the object photographed and the resulting image. In linguistics and in philosophy of language, an indexical behavior or utterance points to (or indicates) some state of affairs. For example, I refers to whoever is speaking; now refers to the time at which that word is uttered; and here refers to the place of utterance. For  indexicality is one of three sign modalities (see further down), and is a phenomenon far broader than language; that which, independently of interpretation, points to something — such as smoke (an index of fire) or a pointing finger — works indexically for interpretation. Social indexicality in the human realm has been regarded as including any sign (clothing, speech variety, table manners) that points to, and helps create, social identity.

To collect photographs is to collect the world. Movies and television programs light up walls, flicker, and go out; but with still photographs the image is also an object, lightweight, cheap to produce, easy to carry about, accumulate, store. Humankind lingers unregenerately in Plato’s cave, still reveling, its age-old habit, in mere images of the truth. 

 Photographer Alexander Khokhlov and make-up artist Valeriya Kutsan have come up with a project to transform models faces into 2D images along with Veronica Ershova who had led the process of retouching and post-production. You can see more images from the project by Alexander Khokhlov, Valeriya Kutsan and Veronica Ershova  using different techniques of face painting – from sketch and graphic arts to water-colour and oil-paintings by going to: Twisted Sifter


About Art Selectronic

Art Selectronic is an artist-led initiative, that supports grass-roots contemporary art that remains unswayed by fashion, trends or the whims of government funding. The project involves ongoing research into the placing of contemporary art, it’s audiences and it’s relationship to the everyday. We place great emphasis on context. Our mission is to support new works of contemporary art and foster an audience from a wide range of backgrounds.
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