Today, we began by covering a brief introduction into using Camera Raw and Bridge. As a starting exercise and recap of last week’s session we were instructed to shoot some images with varying depth of field but firstly, shooting in Raw and then changing the depth of field by altering shutter speed, aperture and ISO to achieve the desired effects.
We used “Camera Raw” to adjust the image settings, making the image look clearer. Settings such as colour temperature, exposure, clarity, contrast and lens corrections were all used to adjust the appearance of the image. Today was mostly an introduction to using Bridge and Camera Raw, explaining the differences between shooting RAW rather that in JPEG format was discussed as well as the different file extensions such as “CR.2” and “XMP”
Here are the altered Images…
We were also asked to answer a set of questions that relate to a piece by the name of “The Subject as Object”
Why is the photographic body in crisis? In what ways, do you think it is in crisis?
I believe the photographic body has been in crisis throughout history, in particular, the text mentions, photography as a tool for identification. With Phrenology, Physiognomy and the invention of biometric technology such as fingerprint scanners and the categorisation of the human body “…there are competing discourses of the human body (as vulnerable, ‘armoured’, contaminating for instance) and bodies are differentiated according to such ideas.” (Henning, M. 2009: 197). This concept links with issues around objectification because biometric technology is identifying and focusing on small or singular characteristics or features and categorising them as if they were items in a stock check.
Biometric technologies and security also raise the issue of ‘illegal bodies’ for instance… “It has been argued that in the USA and the UK these bodies belong to those groups historically marginalised (women, the elderly, manual workers, people with dark skin and dark eyes), because the technologies are calibrated to bodies assumed to me ‘normal’ i.e. young, white, male, white-collar workers, just as photographic film was historically calibrated for light-coloured skin (Murray 2007: 351-2; Dyer 1997: 90)” (cited in Henning, M. 2009: 119) also that “This inability to capture all bodies might seem a positive thing in the context of a Foucauldian analysis of disciplinary power, but when establishing one’s identity becomes a condition of access to citizenship and to right, to be illegal or invisible and outside the archives is to be at risk.” (2009; 199). This implies that photography can be a tool of control and restriction over vulnerable minority groups thus causing a crisis of fairness and equality.
In modern society, the sheer volume of photography and commercialisation has lead to the commodification of the human body. Due to the pervasiveness of photography, we are bombarded on a daily basis with the circulation of ‘human ideals’ and sold the prospect of ‘perfection’ within mainstream media. I would argue that we are losing our sense of nature in favour of prosthetic perfection. ” Reciprocally, the human being become perceived and represented as objects. The rise of fetishistic and representations of women in both pornography and advertising photographs is connected to the development of the capitalist economy, and to the fetishising of commodities.” (2009: 204) the text also supports this by outlining that “while these photos seemingly reassure readers about their own bodies, they also encourage them to view them critically by finding potential flaws in every anatomical part.” (2009: 205). This is a fundamental issue as we are embedding within society a condition of anxiety, low self-esteem and unrealistic expectations. I would also argue that today more than ever the human body is in crisis because increasingly, the lines between public and private and being blurred.
In what ways, and to what ends, has the censorship of images been used for?
The censorship and regulation of images have been implemented since throughout photographic history. When content features volatile content such as illness, homelessness, sex, nudity or children. For instance, “Sally Mann’s book immediate family had elicited outraged responses when it was published in 1992 because it represented the children as too knowing, too adult, and (it was argued) implicitly sexual.” (2009: 207). Censorship is implemented as to protect the interests of the subjects and viewers and to prevent exploitation or harm. “Though some photographers have been accused of exploiting their child subjects, the main accusation refer to the illicit paedophile viewer.” (2009; 207). I wish to pay particular interest in the photographer, Sally Mann, with reference to a more recent photographic project titled “Proud Flesh”. Featuring a selection of images that focus on particular parts of the human body and anatomy. For instance…
I find these images particularly inspiring because they bring into questions issues around censorship and body objectification. Mann has made the conscious decision to display these images in black and white to draw attention to the tonal qualities of the body. In some instances, Mann has used the tone, shadow and fractals/image grain to censor or mask intimate areas. I would argue that the use of black and white creates a strong sense of intimacy between photographer, subject and viewer with subjects bare skin exposed giving the whole series a raw and stripped down feel.
Why do we feel the need to photograph bodies in transition?
I would argue that we make the conscious decisions when photographing the human body in transition for a number of different reasons. For instance, in an attempt to document change, preserve time and the essence or likeness of the subject but also to reflect. “…’All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.'” (Sontag. 1979:15). I will reference a brief section from ‘Camera Lucida: Reflections of Photography’ by Roland Barthes (1984) who discusses the loss of his mother and how photographs helped him grieve by retracing the life of his deceased mother…”I had worked back through a life, not my own, but the life of someone I love. Starting from her latest image, taken the summer before her death (so tired, so noble, sitting in front of the door of our house, surrounded by my friends), I arrived, traversing three-quarters of a century, at the image of a child: I stare intensely at the Sovereign Good of childhood, of the mother, of the mother-as-child.” (1984: 71). Henning, M. 2009 also mentioned that “The living person photographed may subsequently die, but remain preserved in the photograph, while the dead body photographs is ‘horrible’ since it is given the same ‘immortality’.” (2009: 226).
An artist named Jan Langer created a photographic series titled “Faces of Century” which documented portraits taken show the facial similarities between a hundred years. The artist states that “This set of comparative photos (of archive portraits from the family album and contemporary portraits from the present time) explored the similarities and differences in appearance and physiognomy. The characteristic of personality change throughout life but it seems as if individual nature remains rooted in the abyss of time. The pairs of photographs are accompanied by brief facts from the people’s physical and psychic world.” (Jan Langer, 2016)
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