civilized ku # 5221-23 (kitchen life) ~ how a thing looks like photographed

embiggenable • iPhone

embiggenable • iPhone

embiggenable • iPhone

I came across the quote below and it got me a thinkin' ....

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things but their inward significance.” ~ Aristotle.

.... At one time on both of my 2 previous blog incarnations, I wrote extensively regarding photography from the standpoint of the medium and its apparatus - read the word apparatus to mean 1."a complex structure within an organization or system." Do NOT read it to mean 2."the technical equipment or machinery needed for a particular activity or purpose."

In those writings I addressed ideas such as truth and meaning to be had/found in pictures. iMo, I came down on the side that held that a picture has the ability to be a very accurate / true representation of the real world albeit "just" a moment in time from a singular POV (literal and figurative). And fyi, some commenters got all angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin like, re: "true" and "real" world .... a rabbit hole down which I really did not want to venture.

Re; meaning(s) to had in a picture - my position on that idea is that all pictures have meaning(s). However, while a picture maker can attempt to imbue a picture with a specific (or general) meaning(s), it is up to a viewer of a picture to divine what meaning(s) a picture might have, a meaning(s) which is totally dependent upon the mind set / belief system / experiences that a viewer brings to the table, picture viewing wise. In a very real sense a picture is a kind of rorschach test.

So, all of that written, here's my thinkin' re: Mr. Aristole's opinion .... iMo, "the aim of art", art which is meant to be seen as opposed to being heard, read, or felt (in the physcical sense), aka: the visual arts, is to visually represent the outward appearance of something, or, perhaps more accurately, some thing or another. The result of which is to create a physical object which can be seen / viewed.

In the case of photography, that object is a print and that object is a thing, in and of itself, which has its own outward appearance independent of what it depicts. The print's outward appearance, in the best examples thereof, is what incites / influences, in the viewer's mind, the meaning(s) to be had in a picture.

That written, I am by no means certain, that the viewer's perceived meaning(s) devined from a picture can represent / reveal the "inner significance" of anything (or any thing), aka: a depicted referent. I mean, as an example, does a rock have an inner significance? How about a visually interesting Stephen Shore street scene or William Eggleston light bulb on a ceiling? What is their inner significance?

If there is an inner significance to be gleaned from a photographic print (an object with its own outward appearance), I would suggest that it is the inner significance of the picture maker him/herself ....

.... what was it that incited Shore to picture that street? What did he want me to see? Did he intend to imbue the scene with some hidden (or obvious) inner significance / meaning?

My suspicion is that Shore's-and many other picture making greats-motivation for making such a picture was so he could see what the thing looked like photographed, or, as Garry Winogrand opined .....

Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed.

Then again, Shore said ....

It seems to me that a good photographer is a combination of two things: one is interesting perceptions and the other is an understanding of how the world is translated by a camera into a photograph.

Aristotle was pretty smart guy, but I think he got it wrong (think interpration = finding inner significanace) ....

Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings. Susan Sontag