IC 2 - The Index and The Icon Indexical Trace - Is the photography an indexical trace of the world around it? / by Chris Chucas

Is the photography an indexical trace of the world around it. 

‘’No Painting or drawing, however naturalist , belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does’

Berger, 2009 p59

This is a really interesting point that Berger is making here when we look at ‘what is a photograph’ It’s this tactical and almost clinical scientific way that the photographic process renders a copy of what the operator decides it wants to reproduce especially with other early practitioners Like fox Talbot and Daegurre who talked about capturing nature with this process. 

Obviously we’ve come a long way since and practitioners use this process much like painters and other art forms as a means of expression. Perhaps painting starting out more as means to copy something visually and then evolved into more abstract ways of expressing an internal idea or thought that could not be found in the real world, photography did. 

Talking about the ‘context of photographs’ when someone from a scientific background like Fox Talbot discovered the method in which to reproduce tin types his intentions were more as a scientist and in his eyes ‘ a way of capturing nature’. This is just 1 of 3 important parts of the message; 

  1. Who is making the image and why (their intentions) 
  2.  The transmission, ( is it an ad?, a Medical journal image, a news image, a family photo etc
  3. The Audience, ( shoppers, medical students, news paper readers, a family

All of these factors shape the way in which the image is viewed. As we are becoming more and more familiar with images in such saturation with social media and everyone spending more and more time on devices, our cultural ideas around photography are evolving and the truth that one holds (or doesn’t hold)  seems to be affected on all levels with the viewers becoming more and more untrusting of images.

If we look at the earlier beginnings of photography and how it was seen as an un biased and neutral means of reproduction it’s clear how far we’ve come.

©Chris Chucas-CRJ www.chrischucas.com-crj 6218  August 11, 2017 Falmouth University Ma Documentary Photography-10.jpg

’An automatic reproduction by the action of light.’ 

The above image was taken by myself and was used on a journal entry to document. The purpose ; to show the space and materials being used for the exhibition, the arena it was published; the CRJ journal and websie; and finally the audience; my peers and lecturers who already had an understanding of my work and if not knew that it is an acedemic project as part of my M

©Chris Chucas-CRJ www.chrischucas.com-crj 6284  August 11, 2017 Falmouth University Ma Documentary Photography-12.jpg

Niepce, 1839 

So If I apply this to some of my own work I can look at these 3 different parts of my practice and where I place myself.

Bobby and Becca at a show - Chris C

Bobby and Becca at a show - Chris C

Is it real , is it truthful?

When looking at photography's unique relationship with the world around it, and its ability to capture a version of the scene or the object in front f us much closer to how the human eye see's things than other mediums like painting for example. It's this peculiarities of photography that can 'trick' the viewer into thinking that anything in front of the camera is honest and truthful. I'll look more in depth with that in another CRJ post but the point I'm making here is that this 'truth' is not really what we instantly think of it. In the above picture i have a personally relationship already with the man and the woman in the image and Im part of a social scene with music that puts shows on ect. So me being there isn't a random unobjective act in itself it's a series of preempted decisions that led me to this point. The same notion applies to how the subjects in the picture react with my presence. I feel that because they know me and know who I am and What I'm doing they dont; withdraw and are happy to be photographed. So the end result is me capturing what happened but by me being there it's not a unaltered completely objective view it looks like it, and it might be close but it's not the same thing.