Notes of a rather semiotic or probably more accurately linguistically flavoured journal article – rather heaving going.
Photography can be taken two ways:
- as event – frozen gestalt, which doesn’t convey much of what is happening in real life. Event = abrupt artifact. Artifact = life outside continues, time flows by, captured object slips away. Example = press photo – freezes life that goes on outside. Instantaneous/snapshot. Snapshot = is theft/steals life. Shows unperformed movement -> refers to impossible posture. PARADOX = movement has already been performed, but in the image the movement is frozen. The paradox arises from the indexical nature of the photographic sign.
- as picture – autonomous representation which can be framed and hung, which stops referring to event from which it was drawn. Picture = natural evidence/live witness. As live evidence = designates the death of the referent/accomplished past/suspension of time. Example = funerary (relating to funeral) portrait – it depicts a life that has ceased offstage. Time exposure.
- Superficial series -> generates photo as semiotic object (image-producing)
- Referential series -> generates photo as physical sign (reality-produced)
- See Eadweard Muybridge’s Galloping Horse as example
- Paradox of unperformed movement and impossible posture = unresolved alternative. Reality is not made out of singular events, not gestalt. When photo freezes event in form of an image, problem is that that is not where the event occurs. Surface shows a gestalt and is disconnected from temporal context. Barthes calls this the “real unreality” of photography.
- Time Exposure: any portrait is funerary in nature -> landmarks of the past. It reverses the paradox of the snapshot. Snapshot refers to fluency of time without conveying it, time exposure petrifies time of the referent & denotes it as departed. It liberates an autonomous and recurrent temporality – time of remembrance. Offers possibility of staging that life repetitively in memory.
- Snapshot stole a life it could not return. Time exposure expresses a life it never received. Deals with imaginary life that is autonomous, discontinuous and reversible – life has no location other than the surface of the photo. Refers to death as the state of what has been.
- De Duve compares the snapshot linguistically to the present tense – too early to see the event occurring, too late to see it happening in reality. Conversely he compares time exposure to the past tense as a sort of infinitive/empty form of potential tenses (I’m assuming that would be the conditional forms of a tense).
Photography produces a new category of space-time. For the snapshot = “here” and “formerly” and for time exposure “now” and “there”. “Here” = superficial series -> place -> surface of photographed event. “Formerly” = referential series -> past sequence of events. “Now” = superficial series as if it were time. “There” = referential series as if it were a place. The focal point a photographer chooses is the choice to fill the indexical sign – the “now” is an absolute value.
The author then delves into reading procedure, trauma, temporal pauses, travail, work of mourning, and other psychoanalytical aspects mentioned by Freud which I really struggled to understand. This kind of journal article needs a lot of readings before it can be understood properly, so I hate to admit this, but I’d rather be reading Martha Rosler!
de Duve, T. (1978) ‘Time Exposure and Snapshot: The Photograph as Paradox’ In: October 5 (Summer) pp.113–125.
- Normal First Nation children’s life before removed from parents = fishing -> salmon; plowing/harrowing/clearing fields -> hay season; mountains -> chasing horses.
- In residential school = scabies all over body
- Resident bullies
- Boys = milked cows, cleaned gutters
- Detentions, punishments
- Problems showing inner emotions
- Code of secrecy
- Beaten if they spoke their own language
- Dinner = 2 slices of bread and jam and some milk
- Girls = sewing, dairy work, made butter, cleaned
- Always had cold baths
- Corn Flakes for Easter, egg and a jelly bean for a treat
Jack, A. (ed.) (2006) Behind Closed Doors: Stories from the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Penticton: Theytus Books.
Just some notes from a journal article on BC’s residential schools for background for A5.
BC’s Colonial Education
- Place & colonialism = place/site/event -> multiple processes which constitute it.
- BC residential schools located within larger narratives & processes of colonialism.
- Colonialism = never complete homogenous project. Always comprised of social & political constructs existing between the discursive and the practical.
- Colonial action in BC = centred on structural processes:
- geographic incursion
- destruction of socio-cultural structures
- imposition of external control
- requires ideological framework
- relied on the creation of the ‘Other’ over which colonialists were dominant.
- Residential schooling founded on Euro-colonial ideological system = Aboriginals needed transformation. Can be traced back to 1620 (New France).
- Boarding schools focused on:
- basic fluency in English/French
- instilment of European values/morals
- practice of labouring activities (belief existed that First Nations would be best served in trades, agriculture and “domestic arts”
1876 Indian Act
- Enforced education of Aboriginal children
- historical policy goals = protecting, civilizing & assimilating
- Would only succeed if boarding schools were implemented. Residential schools preferred as this limited contact with families & cultures. Known as “aggressive civilization” (p.2).
- Place = complex & contested concept
- Place has intimacy and ‘known-ness’ that the concept of space lacks
- Place = where “social relations are constituted” (p.3).
- Place can be generative event: “an active source of presencing [where] within its close embrace, things get located and begin to happen” (p.3).
- “… the body is the most intimate of places where simultaneously embodying crucial sites of political, economic and cultural struggles” (p.3).
- BC residential schools & bodies of FN children = places within broader colonial narratives = multidirectional & permeable sites nested within larger spatial colonial projects.
Intimate Places of Colonialism: Residential Schools in BC
Residential schools in BC operated between 1861 and 1984.
- 9 operated by Roman Catholic Church
- 9 operated by United/Methodist/Anglican Churches
- Operated within a clear assimilativist policy framework.
- Schools were built to have a large, imposing structure in order to convey authority
Far then from functioning as mere containers through which colonial narratives were delivered, residential school buildings and grounds were colonial geographies in which First Nations students were enveloped. The buildings ensured First Nations students, from the moment they set eyes upon the places of their ‘education’, were spatially disoriented in a place designed to exclude and expunge Indigeneity.
De Leeuw, 2007: 3
BC residential schools had a certain commonality:
- bifurcated in design = gender division -> created a further disconnect between school and home lives
- central door and steps act as a stage and backdrop for lines of First Nations students descending stairs into a front row of Euro-colonial teachers, nuns & priests (photographic evidence).
- Photos emphasize the possibility of First Nations children transforming into the ‘non-Indigenous’ subjects.
- Residential schools situated in cleared lands in contrast to ‘uncivilized wilderness’ which surrounds the grounds. Colonial discourse = (Euro-colonial) civility & progress with settled & agriculturally managed lands and savagery & regression (Indigenousness) with unaltered & undomesticated lands.
- Schools’ interiors also similar: long, straight hallways, large open areas that facilitated supervision and control. Students were always within monitoring and colonial gaze of staff.
- Most intimate places = bodies of FN children
- Photographed “‘before’ the educational (cultural transformation) process with long hair, unwashed faces … and ‘savage’ accoutrements”.
- Photographed “‘after’ the educational (cultural transformation) process with shorn hair, scrubbed skin, surrounded by accoutrements of civility … e.g. pot plants”.
- Bodies were places into which “colonial project physically asserted itself through forced eating rituals, discipline & punishment … assault and impregnation” (p.4).
- Colonialism also extended to the First Nations’ children’s thoughts, perspectives and memories -> transformation of thought and spirit.
- Teaching pedagogy revolved around “the whole child, body and soul, intellect and will, sense, imagination and emotions” (p.5).
- “… place as gendered and segregated functioned within residential schools to separate families and erode familial ties, furthering the colonial goals of assimilating and transforming Aboriginal peoples”. (p.6).
- The Euro-colonial vision for Aboriginal women was one of Victorian domesticity.
In Place Resistances: Aboriginal Students Respond to British Columbia’s Residential Schools
The First Nations students resisted colonialism by using the very places that the colonial project had put in place to subordinate them, i.e. set fire to dorms, broke bounds, pulled carrots, spoke their Native language and performed Indian dances.
De Leeuw, S. (2007) ‘Intimate colonialisms: the material and experienced places of British Columbia’s residential schools’ In: The Canadian Geographer 51 (3) At: https://link-galegroup-com.ucreative.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/A171295540/ITOF?sid=lms (Accessed 17/01/2020).
I first saw mention of this little book on a WeAreOCA posting a few years ago and when I saw it for sale at the Vancouver Art Gallery, when I attended the Cindy Sherman exhibition a few months ago, I couldn’t resist the purchase. The book is about viewing contemporary art in the gallery and is written in down-to-earth, non-art speak language which makes it super easy to understand. The author provides the reader with a formula for looking at contemporary art (probably any period of art really, because wasn’t Vermeer’s or Rembrandt’s work contemporary art in their time?). Firstly he suggests that one approach each art piece as if it is the first time you have ever seen it (even if it isn’t) and then follow his Tabula Rasa approach.
A tabula rasa is Latin for a blank slate, so wipe out any preconceptions and clear your mind and then follow the following formula:
|T = time
||Stand and look for a minute – Ward uses a 5 breath rule – breath deeply 5 times, then move on.
|A = association
||Ask yourself – can I relate to it? Is there a personal connection/memory trigger/ gut reaction/ visual attraction? What interested you/put your off?
|B = background
||Check the title for the artist’s intention/wall text/press release. Is there a backstory available?
|U = understand
||Is the artist playing with your perceptions, have you learnt something new about an event.
|L = look again
||Look at the work again, do you notice anything different/new?
|A = assessment
||Deciding whether a work is good/bad is subjective. Assessment is about connecting the dots from the previous steps and reaching your own conclusion. What do you think about the quality, originality, presentation etc., or perhaps you need to repeat the whole exercise?
Ward devotes the rest of his book by providing examples of using the Tabula Rasa mnemonic in various case studies in various categories such as art as entertainment, confrontation, event, message, joke, spectacle and meditation. The author does not offer any answers, but encourages the reader to trust his/her judgment and above all, to enjoy the process. After all not all art is meant to be serious and some art is really meant to remain a huge question mark.
I found this book to be a good, easy read, full of helpful anecdotes and great resources and this formula will definitely be handy for future gallery visits. I really wish I had bought this book during my first module as it would have made things much clearer for me. Perhaps OCA should put it on a required reading list … just a thought.
Ward, O. (2014) Ways of Looking | How to Experience Contemporary Art. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.
I just love Susie Linfield’s no-nonsense writing style, easy to understand and no convoluted sentences! And best of all no double-speak! This first essay in her book The Cruel Radiance lays out a good foundation to build upon regarding the writings of the well-known iconic photography critics and the angle from which they are coming.
She begins by giving a brief history of the origins and stances and the way photography criticism has emerged over the years. I’m going to briefly lay this out in note form so that it makes for easy referral later on.
- First critic = Charles Baudelaire. For him criticism = a combination of thought and feelings. The critic’s emotion connection to the work/artist formed the absolute starting point of criticism.
- Modern critics in all genres (except photography) have taken this subjective approach, cluing in to their intuitive reactions, thought process and emotions at the same time.
- Photography critics shunned emotional responses and any pleasure derived from looking at the images. They regarded photography as a powerful force – not to be trusted.
- Susan Sontag – On Photography (1977). She has been very influential on the thinking of other photography critics and also for setting the tone of criticism. Her descriptive language in On Photography reveals her voice, attitude and approach to photography. It is imbued with negative connotations:
- ‘predatory’, ‘voyeuristic’
- ‘seductiveness’, ‘aggression’
- ‘sublimated murder’, ‘mental pollution‘ (Linfield, 2012: 5)
- For Sontag, photographs do not have any political or ethical power – the cumulative effects of photos of violence, according to her, creates a morally stupid society (compassion fatigue).
- Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida (1980). Linfield regards Barthes book as a ‘love letter to photography (and his dead mother)’ and is filled with various reactions to photographs (punctum). But he does share a similar intellectual approach to photography with Sontag. He too describes photography as:
- ‘stupid’, ‘without culture’
- ‘catastrophe’, undialectical’ (Linfield, 2012: 6)
- As far as RB is concerned photographs of violence strip away a viewer’s right to their own reactions (I find this a rather presumptuous statement as no two people react to a situation in the same manner)
- John Berger – (various texts) Linfield regards him as one of the most morally convincing and emotionally perceptive critics:
- photos represent an “opposition to history”
- photos = fragile items that represent something that time may not destroy
- acknowledges photography’s place in this era
- respects the way people use photographs
- extremely critical of photos of political violence because they create a feeling of helplessness in the viewer, rather than the urge to change things -> discontinuities
- The postmodern and poststructuralist children (those following from Sontag, Barthes and Berger) had a more exaggerated and malicious stance. They took an ethical stance in displaying hostility towards photography and to any belief in the photographer’s authenticity, creativity and subjectivity. In an extremely elucidating statement Linfield describes their attitudes and work as follows:“The postmodern critics viewed photography as a generally nasty business – the photograph is a prison, the act of looking is a crime – which may be why reading their work often feels like trudging through mud”. (Linfield, 2012: 6)Yes! Indeed that definitely chimes with me. So basically what do these postmoderns have to complain about?
- Allan Sekula – photography = ‘primitive, aggressive and infantile’
- Douglas Crimp – due to the mechanical reproduction of photography there is no originality
- Rosalind Krauss – appropriation photography erodes the differences between original and copy.
- Photography’s greatest sin is its relationship to capitalism
- No objectivity or neutrality
- Abigail Solomon-Godeau (on the documentary image) – the victim is defeated twice: 1st by social forces, 2nd by the taking of the documentary photo.
Reference: Solomon-Godeau, A. (2003) ‘Who is Speaking Thus? Some Questions about Documentary Photography’ In: Photography at the Dock | Essays on Photographic History, Institutions, and Practices. Minneapolis: Universiy of Minnesota Press. pp.169–183.
- John Tagg – photography = the function of the state -> used to further the ruling classes agendas which leads to submission of labour classes
Reference: Tagg, J. (1982) ‘The Currency of the Photograph’ In: Thinking Photography. London: MacMillan Press Ltd. pp.110–141.
- Martha Rosler – “Imperialism breeds an imperial sensibility in all phases of cultural life” and the photograph is the most imperialist of all (Linfield, 2012: 9)
Reference: Rosler, M. (1992) ‘In, Around and Afterthoughts (on Documentary Photography)’ In: Bolton, R. (ed.) The Contest of Meaning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pp. 303–340.
- Andy Grundberg – postmodern photography = no need to make new images because they exist already.
Reference: Grundberg, A. (2003) ‘The Crisis of the Real: Photography and Postmodernism’ In: Wells, L. (ed.) The Photography Reader. Oxon and New York: Routledge. pp.164–179.
- Only imitation exits now. Postmodern criticism and photography embody this concept. The postmoderns were hostile to John Szarkowski who wrote with empathy and insight. Also hostile to documentary photography that was grounded in political and social issues. Ideas of truth and progress were sneered at [Rosler, Sekula, Carol Squires].
- Many of the postmodern critics were women and they adopted these attitudes partly in fear of being regarded as sentimental and frivolous among their male academic intellectual counterparts. This led to the idea that “chronic negativity = fearless intelligence” (Linfield, 2012: 10).
- The postmoderns were of the opinion that it was impossible for a photographer or viewer to offer/find a moment of originality, surprise or insight in a photograph. “To invest a photograph with meaning is always a sad delusion” (Linfield, 2012: 11)
- Victor Burgin – photography fell either in the “narcissistic identification” or “voyeurism” category.
Reference: Burgin, V. (1982) ‘Looking at Photographs’ In: Thinking Photography. London: MacMillan Press Ltd. pp.142–153.
- However, Linfield states, there are more balanced writers:
- Max Kozloff
- Rebecca Solnit
- David Levi Strauss
- Geoff Dyer
- (and I would include her among this list too)
- Pauline Kael, author of “Trash, Art and the Movies” is of the opinion that looking trash (I’m assuming she means art that is not considered good here) actually helps a viewer’s appreciation of the aesthetics and lets them engage with their feelings which in turn enhances their viewing experience and feeds into their critical thinking. (Makes sense – if you don’t look at junk art occasionally, how else are you going to be able to form your own opinions of what is good or bad?).
This concept comes back to Baudelaire’s concept of criticism of seeking the “why of his pleasure”, and what Randall Jarrell regards as ‘combing the “sense of fact” with the “personal truth”‘ (Linfield, 2012: 13).
- This quest for the unity of thought and feeling was the central objective for generations of critics – with the exception of photography critics.
So what caused this attitude of rejection?
- Photography = modern invention. Since the outset of its existence, it has provoked conflicts and anxieties.
- “Photography is a proxy for modern life and its discontents” (Linfield 2012: 13)
- The very nature of photography blurs categories. Is it:
- What we do know is that it is a democratic medium and it is a social medium.
- But it has been distrusted exactly for those reasons – its availability. Baudelaire’s anxiety this time – he was afraid photography would wipe out painting and wanted to have photography confined to factual documentation – more for scientific purposes.
- Photography also throw the whole social class system on its head. It crossed the gender divide (men and women (horrors!) could do it); it crossed the class divide (available to rich and poor alike – and the upper classes didn’t like that).
- So because photography is available to all and sundry, it is this very aspect that is the cause of the discord (such a circular argument – rather like who came first – the chicken or the egg).
- Another reason is technology. Photographic technology is only about 200 years old. The medium of photography is dependent on a machine and a chemical (or digital) process. And just like computers, people either love/understand them or hate/afraid of them (techno-utopia vs technophobia)
- Frankfurt School (their writings were treated as gospel by the critics). Influenced Sontag, Barthes, Berger and the postmoderns. They were:
- Walter Benjamin – he was highly critical, but was not averse to photography.
- He regarded photography as “liberating and revolutionary”. new of seeing. Photography brings the masses closer to the world.
Reference: Benjamin, W. (1999) ‘Little History of Photography’ In: Jennings, M. et al. (eds.) Walter Benjamin | Selected Writings 1927 – 1934. Cambridge, MA and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. pp.507–530.
- Do away with tradition/ritual -> replace with politics.
- Photography = desanctification of the world -> necessary task of modern life. “Truth serum” -> Eugene Atget = “removes makeup from reality”.
Reference: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
- Benjamin understood the subjective power of photography. According to Benjamin the major difference between photography and painting was that photography created a form of identification between viewer and image and the urge to act. (This I can relate to. A painting of a flooded street in a village will not cause me to want to go and help place sandbags with the community as much as a photograph of the flood would. There is more a sense of reality within a photograph, while the painting holds a sense of other-worldliness).
- Benjamin also understood that a photograph can span time – it could be a “document of history and possibility” (Linfield, 2012: 18).
- Skeptical of the passive society photography was creating.
- Mass events were connected with reproduction of photography
- Photography held a form of mystification
- Beautification – photography can make dire conditions seem beautiful (e.g. Salgado’s work).
- Distrusted photography’s credibility -> destroyed man’s ability to think for himself.
- Siegfried Kracauer
- Photography = form of reduction “mere surface coherence offered by photography must be destroyed in order for history to present itself”. (Linfield 2012: 19)
- Photography shuts out or seals meanings or realities
- Was concerned about the proliferation of images (pre WWII years) -> would affect people’s memories
- Photographs did not encourage free thinking, rather hampered it
- Saw photography as a process that would help to radicalize the masses. “It is the task of photography to disclose this previously unexamined foundation of nature” (Linfield 2012: 20)
- Held disdain for mass media & female audiences
- His antipathy was partly due to the political situation in Weimar Republic
- Bertolt Brecht – Brecht’s writings continue to inform and define criticism today.
- He loathed and distrusted photography
- His writings heavily influenced those of Sontag, Barthes, Berger and the postmoderns
- Photographs don’t explain how the world works:
- don’t offer reasons/causes
- don’t tell systematic stories (beginning/middle/end)
- they do document the specific
- they do blur political and historic distinctions
- Photography succeeds in offering an immediate and emotional connection to the world
- “We approach photographs, first and foremost, through emotions” (Linfield 2012: 22)
- This is the worst possible approach for Brecht. For Brecht feeling (except anger) = dishonest and indulgent. He associated emotion with the chaos and irrationality of capitalism (I have to admit I don’t understand this statement at all. How one connect a display of love to someone – say a hug – be a symbol of capitalism?)
- Linfield reminds the reader that when reading work by the Frankfurt School (Kracauer, Benjamin and Brecht), it is important to remember they are writing about a particular place (Weimar Republic), a particular time (pre-WWII when Social Democrats, communists and Nazis were fighting int he press and streets) and during particular events (mass politics and mass culture). “Weimar was the crisis of modernity” (Linfield 2012: 23).
- “Brecht understood the role of unexmained emotion in this process … create works of art that subverted it” (Linfield, 2012: 23):
- Poisonous emotions in country
- antagonism against Jews, intellectuals and leftists
- self-pity, loathing and fear
- toxic mix of exaggerated feelings
- conspiracies -> fascism
- Photography became a fundamental part of every day life and culture
- Used a propaganda -> manipulated & altered
- e.g. John Heartfield -> montages = “photography plus dynamite” -> Communist newspapers.
- Arbeiter-Fotografen “worker-photographers’ documenting working-class life = social activism.
- Robert Capa -> Spain -> fascist aggression
- “All over the world, the practice of documentary photography would be dominated by liberals and leftists” (Linfield, 2012: 24).
- Photography and circumstances have much changed since 1933, as wellas our uses and understanding of it.
- “What we have lost is the capacity to respond to photographs, especially … of political violence … to learn somethign useful from them and connect to others through them” (Linfield, 2012: 24).
- The Frankfurt School fought against audiences’ Pavlovian responses to mass culture
- Postmoderns have another fear -> the disobedient, non-politically correct response of the viewer and that emotional responses will break down ideological constructs that had been created previously
- (Does this amount to fear of change – I wonder?)
- Changed circumstances = changed approaches
- Linfield reckons the postmoderns’ fear is probably there for a good reason. Photographs elicit unscripted responses -> show “life has its own purposes, independent of any scheme” (Linfield 2012: 25).
- When looking at photos, she advises that we try not to disassemble photos, that we not reject them as palty, partial truths and above all we should not deny the (un)comfortable feelings that they elicit.
- Rather we should use the ambiguities as a starting point of discovery, then connect them to the world outside their frames.
- We need to stop regarding photos with supreme suspicion
- We need to embrace the emotion photos elicit
- Photos are not nefarious supporters/aides to capitalism
- Photos are not tools of oppression.
Linfield, S. (2012) ‘A Little History of Photography Criticism; or, Why do Photography Critics Hate Photography?’ In: The Cruel Radiance | Photography and Political Violence. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. pp.3–31.
- Secwépemc people were semi-nomadic hunter-gather people
- Lived in semi-permanent homes in spring, summer and fall and pit-houses (c7es7iskten) during winter months
- Strong sense of community, believed all natural resources were to be shared by everyone in the nation.
- Prior to European settlement, there were 30 Bands of Secwepemc people, now there are only 17.
- Their core values:
- Traditional territory = The geographic area identified by a First Nation as the land they and/or their ancestors traditionally occupied and used.
- 95% of British Columbia is unceded territory
- Map of First Nations traditional territories in British Columbia.
- Over 630 First Nations across Canada; 198 distinct First Nations live in B.C.
A statement recognizing the traditional and ancestral territory of the First Nations is usually made at public gatherings, as an act of reconciliation in an attempt to repair colonial damages.
Akrigg, H. B. (1943) History and economic development of the Shuswap area – UBC Library Open Collections. At: https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0106826 (Accessed 07/10/2019).
Census in Brief: The Aboriginal languages of First Nations people, Métis and Inuit (s.d.) At: https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/98-200-x/2016022/98-200-x2016022-eng.cfm (Accessed 10/12/2019).
Chapman, D. (2018) June 2018: Acknowledging an unceded territory – R.J. Haney Heritage Museum. At: https://www.salmonarmmuseum.org/blog/acknowledgement.htm (Accessed 21/11/2019).
Hergesheimer, J. (2016) Unceded territory – Megaphone. At: http://www.megaphonemagazine.com/unceded_territory (Accessed 10/12/2019).
Hunter, J. (2017) ‘Horgan’s acknowledgment of unceded Indigenous territory a milestone for B.C.’ 22/10/2017 At: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/horgans-acknowledgment-of-bcs-unceded-territory-part-of-a-path-forward/article36686705/ (Accessed 21/11/2019).
Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. (2014) Why you should avoid using “Crown Lands” in First Nation consultation. At: https://www.ictinc.ca/blog/why-you-should-avoid-using-crown-lands-in-first-nation-consultation (Accessed 21/11/2019).
Thompson Rivers University (s.d.) Communities – Indigenous TRU. At: https://www.tru.ca/indigenous/indigenous-education-team/resources/communities.html (Accessed 08/12/2019a).
Thompson Rivers University (s.d.) History and Culture – Indigenous TRU. At: https://www.tru.ca/indigenous/indigenous-education-team/resources/history-culture.html (Accessed 08/12/2019b).
WelcomeBC – BC First Nations & Indigenous People – WelcomeBC (s.d.) At: https://www.welcomebc.ca/Choose-B-C/Explore-British-Columbia/B-C-First-Nations-Indigenous-People (Accessed 10/12/2019).
Secwepemctsín is the language of the Secwépemc (Shuswap) First Nations.
- Endangered language
- Spoken in Central and Southern Interior of British Columbia between the Fraser River and the Rocky Mountains
- Only about 200 speak the languages as mother tongue (mostly over the age of 65); with about 1, 190 that are classified as ‘semi-speakers’ (mainly students and those under 19 years of age)
- Most northern Interior Salish language
- Two dialects:
- Eastern: Kinbasket (Kenpesq’t) and Shuswap Lake (Qw7ewt/Quaaout) (This is the dialect spoken in my area)
- Western: Canim Lake (Tsq’escen), Chu Chua (Simpcw), Deadman’s Creek (Skitsestn/Skeetchestn)–Kamloops (Tk’emlups), Fraser River (Splatsin, Esk’et), and Pavilion (Tsk’weylecw)–Bonaparte (St’uxtews)
- Language has many consonants from the Roman alphabet (43 consonants and 5 vowels)
- All knowledge and aspects of the language are vitally linked to the land and this is passed down orally to future generations
‘For example, the Secwepemc receive messages from the animals and birds who tell them when it is time to harvest and gather certain foods and medicines. The cricket will tell the Secwepemc when it is time to catch the salmon’ (Secwepemctsin, Language of the Secwepemc, 2008).
- The present writing system was developed by Kuipers in roughly 1979. Prior to that the language was an oral one.
- As a result of colonialism, and forced assimilation the language has become endangdered.
Secwepemctsin, Language of the Secwepemc (2008) At: https://web.archive.org/web/20081105231203/http://landoftheshuswap.com/msite/lang.php (Accessed 08/12/2019).
Shuswap language (2019) In: Wikipedia. At: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Shuswap_language&oldid=918222087 (Accessed 08/12/2019).
words | Halq’eméylem | FirstVoices (s.d.) At: https://www.firstvoices.com/explore/FV/sections/Data/Salish/Halkomelem/Halq’em%C3%A9ylem/learn/words/10/1 (Accessed 09/12/2019).
words | Secwepemc | FirstVoices (s.d.) At: https://www.firstvoices.com/explore/FV/sections/Data/Secwepemc/Secwepemctsin/Secwepemc/learn/words/10/2 (Accessed 09/12/2019).
Our course manual just makes mention of Jonas Larsen’s chapter on the Geographies of Tourism Photography, but the section is a very interesting read so I’ve made a brief summary of the article.
- Tourism and photography are connected.
- Contemporary tourism
- Ritual practice
- = cliché
- Roles of photography in tourism
- Intersection of photography & place
- Relationships between cameras, images, places & tourists
- Cultural aspects of tourism
- John Urry – The Tourist Gaze
- image-mediated way of seeing & photo taking
- “imaginative geographies” of tourist landscapes
Initial questions that arise for me:
- How does media geographies produce tourism geographies?
- What is “imaginative geographies”?
- What are tourism geographies?
- How are representational spaces and physical spaces blended into one another?
- Practices of tourist photography
- “Vicious hermeneutic circle” [=The idea that one’s understanding of the test as a whole is established by reference to the individual parts and one’s understanding of each individual part by reference to the whole ] (Hermeneutic circle, 2018)
- Commercial photography -> photographic practices of tourists = quotation ∴ tourists are framed & NOT framing.
- Tourist photography = performed
- Theatrical in nature
- Choreographed by images
The Tourist Gaze and Compulsive Photography
- First comment on relationship between tourism & photography = Susan Sontag On Photography
- photography = “society of spectacles“
- Images overpower reality
- Reality becomes touristic = visual consumption
- 1st mass media circulation = 1880’s – half-tone plates
- mechanical reproduction -> newspapers, books, magazines = consumer capitalism
- Experiences -> democratized
- Participating = seeing & capturing as “imagescapes”
- Having experience = taking a photo of it
- Tourism = social practice (shaped by cameras & images)
- Mass media destroyed authentic experiences
- John Urry -> birth of the ‘Tourist Gaze’ = same year as invention of photography (1834-1841)
- Photography, tourist gaze & tourism are interlinked and co-dependent upon each other. [Why can’t they be separated?]
- Mobile [or is portable a better word?] photos = “imaginative mobility”
- Sightseeing doesn’t need travel e.g. photobook
- Photography = crucial to constructing tourism’s visual nature of sightseeing/gazing
- The tourist gaze determines what is “other” or out of the ordinary -> visual sense = organizing sense
- Michel Foucault – The Birth of the Clinic coined phrase “sovereign power of the gaze”.
- Looking is a learned ability.
- Difference between vision and gazing: Vision = what the human eye can see. Gazing = socially accepted/established opinions of seeing [p. 245]
- [Is gazing a cultural institution?]
Our eyes are socio-culturally framed and gazing is a performance that orders, shapes and classifies, rather than reflects, the world.
Larsen (2006: 245)
- Tourist gaze = organized nature of vision in tourism
- socially patterned & learned
- constructed by mobile images & technologies, e.g. cameras, video recorders, smart phones
- Tourist places come about by means of consumption of images & relevant technologies [through various forms of mass media]
- Gazing is a social construct & involves the collection of signs (semiotics)
- Tourist attraction = network of tourists + a sight + markers
- Markers =representation labelling an object or place as a “sight” worthy of the “tourist gaze”
- guidebooks, souvenirs, ads, postcards
- instruct what to see & how
- Consumption = participation in a sign relation between markers & sight [by arriving at a placed designated as tourist worthy in some or other form of media and taking photos the tourist is consuming the landscape]
- Tourist gaze = tourists involved in texts, images & various technologies when gazing on landscapes
- Romantic gaze – historical attractions
- Picturesque tourism in 18th century
- Claude glasses [technology]
- “mediatised gaze” concentrates on places made famous in media in global popular culture
- People travel to actual places to experience virtual places [e.g. places where movies were made]
- “media pilgrimage’ [p. 247]
- Gazing is a practice and involves:
- making comparisons
- making mental connections between signs & referents
- capturing representative signs by making photos
- Representational performances -> “imaginative geographies”
- Tourist places not fixed
- Book acquires greater authority
- Memory triggers result from films, book, etc.
- Markers of tourism are everywhere
- “Imaginative geographies” -> material consequences undermine perception between the real and the perceived
- Photography = technology that creates different worlds
- Performances are not separate from places where they happen
- They are performances of place that partly connect/produce/transform to other places
Performances of Photography
People travel to see & photograph what they have already consumed in the media
- Resulting image is more important than the sight
- Sightseeing = consuming signs or markers
- Ritual of quotation
- No space for creativity
- Tourists experience/perceive & receive but don’t do
- Too much focus on already produced images & already inscribed sights and places make the tourist a passive sightseer
- Representation is theatrical
- Camera work of tourists concerned with consuming places but also with producing social relationships e.g. family life
- Enact photography
- Taking photos
- choreographing posing bodies
= self-presentation & monitoring bodies
- Shooting/posing/directing are carried out, consciously in response to dominant mythologies present in the media [I think about the various poses of people trying to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa that are scattered in abundance around the internet]
- Tourist photography creates new realities
- Photography is about producing geographies
- People work to establish realities
- Object of tourist photography is not only static landscapes but also images of friends & families
- Photography is a way of directing/acting/seeing
- People have learnt to exhibit themselves in public
- modern cultural code acted out [group photos with everyone showing the peace sign]
- signs of intimacy & affection (signifieds) e.g. hugs
Conclusion: New Technologies, New Performances?
Decoding commercial photography directs tourists’ photos
- tourists = passive, disembodied & pre-figured audiences
- people still consumed by commercial photos
Tourist photography should be reconfigured as performance that takes place between prefixing gazes and images, technology and expressive bodies that encounter places and place-images multi-sensually, materially as well as symbolically.
Larsen (2006: 254)
Nonrepresentational geography is concerned with ‘performative presentations‘ rather than representation & meaning
- This shows how ordinary people use technology & media (e.g. email, telephone calls, film, web pages, photos) ∴ suggests that people = producers not consumers; every day practices not spectacles
- The shift from paper based photography to digital & camera-phone photography changes performances of tourist photography
- Traditionally more energy was invested in choreographing photos as a result of expense in analog processing
- Digital photography image can be erased immediately & another made at no cost
- Performance photography takes place in front of instantaneous audiences = new ubiquitous material infrastructures
- New temporal order = “I am here”, not “I was here”.
Hermeneutic circle (2018) In: Wikipedia. At: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hermeneutic_circle&oldid=864810075 (Accessed 20/10/2019).
Larsen, J. (2006) ‘Geographies of Tourism Photography: Choreographies and Performances’ In: Falkheimer, J. and Jansson, A. (eds.) Geographies of Communication: The Spatial Turn in Media Studies. Gøteborg: NORDICOM. pp.243–261.
The word combines the root “anthropo“, meaning “human” with the root “-cene“, the standard suffix for “epoch” in geologic time. It refers to a new epoch that the Earth is entering, in which humans have been the primary catalysts for change on the plant.
- International Chronostratigraphic Chart = diagram depicting the timeline for Earth’s history
- Consists of “slices of time”. Each slice represents significant happenings on Earth, e.g. change in climate, new animal/plant life
- International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) = official keeper of geological time.
- Past 11,700 years represents Holocene Epoch. This can be sub-divided:
- Meghalayan – 4,200 years ago to present (trigger = drought)
- Northgrippian – 8,300 years ago up to the start of the Meghalayan (trigger = cooling – melting glaciers)
- Greenlandian – exit from ice age.
- “To win a classification, a slice of geological time generally has to reflect something whose effects were global in extent, and be associated with a rock or sediment type that is clear and unambiguous” (Amos, 2018).
- The Anthropocene not currently a formally defined geological unit within the Geological Time Scale
- Phenomena associated with the Anthropocene. Some examples include: increase in erosion and sediment transport; environmental changes triggered by carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus; climate changes, global warming, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, ocean ‘dead zones’; changes in the biosphere, ‘technofossils’.
Amos, J. (2018) ‘Welcome to the Meghalayan Age’ In: BBC News 18 July 2018 [online] At: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44868527 (Accessed on 30 September 2019)
Holocene Epoch | Geology Page (2014) At: http://www.geologypage.com/2014/05/holocene-epoch.html (Accessed on 30 September 2019)
McRae, M. (2018) Geologists Have Finally Defined a New Chapter in Earth’s History, And We’re Living in It. At: https://www.sciencealert.com/international-chronostratigraphic-chart-holocene-added-ages-official (Accessed on 30 September 2019)
Working Group on the ‘Anthropocene’ | Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (s.d.) At: http://quaternary.stratigraphy.org/working-groups/anthropocene/ (Accessed on 30 September 2019)
Continuing in my reading of The Documentary Impulse by Stuart Franklin, just a few notes on chapter 3.
- Documentary photography -> instrumental in advocating reform.
- Power of images to effect incremental changes in laws/conventions protecting the poor & their rights.
- Raises the questions about representation of poverty & impact & effect of photography on its subjects.
- Some of the recurring issues:
- slum housing
- mental instsitutions
- prison system
- domestic violence
- plight of street children
- drug addiction
- Jacob Riis -> magnesium flash photography. Book = How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York (1899). Lantern slides -> influential. Work led to improvement in housing & sewage management in Lower East Side and inner city. Convinced readers poor were not so by choice and unhygienic conditions were imposed & needed to be fixed – not a result of loose moral standards.
- Lewis Hine -> 1900 = 1.752 million child workers in USA between ages of 10 & 15. Composition of photos = frontal, subject centre of frame.
- FSA: Roy Stryker (Director). FSA = government bureau with agenda linked to Roosevelt’s New Deal administration. Dorothea Lange appealed to print her own work – didni’t want negatives damaged. Book = An American Exodus (1939) classic analysis in words & pictures of both causes & consequences of unregulated agricultural intensification & exploitative factory farming. Inequities of smallholder-tenant and factory farming highlighted. Photographs carry own symbolic power, but text in book imparts information and amplifies the narrative.
- Migrant Mother: omitted from An American Exodus. 6 photos of Florence Thompson, no questions asked. Photo = iconic of Depression era. Manipulated in darkroom (thumb brushed out). Image tells nothing of the processes which impacted the migrant population. Lange projects her own sense of despair at what she is witnessing, choosing to pick moments when they look forlorn.
- Expectation of certain facial expressions by FSA – pensive/stoical – reflecting neediness.
- Humanitarian imagery = moral rhetoric masquerading as visual evidence. Upholds human welfare as ‘a primary good’. Connected with aid/relief/rescue/reform, etc.
- Intent is an important factor in documentary photography.
- “To document a condition is not to explain it. The condition is a symptom, not a cause, more precisely, it is the outcome of a process” (Franklin, 2016:68).
- Entitlement failure = the problems faced by the poor were not necessarily of their own making.
- Humanitarian photography differs in intent from less critical essays made from “inside the goldfish bowl” aka Nan Goldin (The Ballad of Sexual Dependency), Larry Clark (Tulsa).
- In photobooks text should be allowed to share the narrative (for maximum impact).
- See Darcy Padilla – Family Love. Presentation online features video with a mix of B/W still images interspersed with colour video footage. The B/W images are intensely powerful and hard hitting and the colour footage provides brief moments of respite from the tragedy taking place.
- The closure of the Photo League led to a change in socially concerned photography. Projects became more personal.
- Humanist photography in France (Paris Match magazine) demanded that street photography show a positive image of ‘Frenchness’ and this served as a unifying construct in the post war period.
- Anthropomorphic definition of humanism: “Where the relationship of “humanity” to “nature” is to be understood as a totality: the world is what it is as a result of its being lived in and transformed by humanity, while humanity in turn, acquires its character through its existence and situation in the world” (Franklin, 2016:76).
- Photography can be a form of therapy – a way of dealing with the past. See work of Josef Sudek. The Window of My Studio features an apple tree which is a metaphor for Sudek’s odd physique. W. Eugene Smith – photo of Tomoko Uemura, victim of Minimata disease (self portrait of Smith’s life thrown askew as a result of father’s suicide.
Fig. 1 Four Seasons: Autumn from the series The Window of My Studio c. 1940-54
Franklin, S. (2016) The Documentary Impulse. London: Phaidon Press Limited.
Josef Sudek | artnet (s.d.) At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/josef-sudek/ (Accessed on 27 September 2019)
Padilla, D. (s.d.) Darcy Padilla. At: http://www.darcypadilla.com/ (Accessed on 27 September 2019)
Figure 1. Sudek, J. (1940-1954) Four Seasons: Autumn from the series The Window of My studio.