Monday, December 6, 2010

I am writing a review of a photography exhibit I saw Friday. To briefly describe the photos, they are of the photos that one sometimes finds encased on headstones. All are aged and in some deteriorated state. The photos, as they are enlarged and framed, are of some interest, and aside from the one grave in our family with such a marker, there are other associations that I begin to draw from in my essay: another photographer, a poet, and a philosopher who I know has written on the subject of photography in the context of death.

I know the book title and look it up. It is available on google reader. But don't I have a copy in my home library? I do. A thin volume that should take little time to read.

The book is essential in beginning to understand contemporary thinking about photography. I gently chastise myself for not having read it sooner. If I am going to walk the walk, you know. More of my catching up, you know.

The book is not an overly difficult read, a bit vague or beyond my comprehension in places, but I do not have the time to reflect too much on a passage when all around it is wholly straightforward. I take notes when the ideas contained may help me develop  and refine my own thoughts about the exhibit.

My mind wanders. I think back to Friday again, more of the social aspects, and assess those who I encounter, some who have surely read this book long before now, and benefited from its influence. I  reread what was lost in that detour and turn the page. The facing page shows evidence of having been dog-eared.

Three pages on I notice the shadow of ink that awaits another turn. It is my handwriting. There are two notes, the first banal, perhaps as a reminder, and the second too oblique to have any current purpose.

I have made some noise in the past about the criteria I apply to my own photography, that which I consider art and that which, despite formal successes, is mere representation of a moment. It is an opinion that I refrain from when commenting on others' avocations with the medium, yet it does determine the level of inspiration I might receive from the viewing.

"In an initial period, Photography, in order to surprise, photographs the notable; but soon, by a familiar reversal, it decrees notable whatever it photographs. The 'anything whatever' then becomes the sophisticated acme of value." — Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

The above was bracketed at the end of the chapter I just finished. I have no recollection, per se, but I feel better. From the number of dog-ears I see now as I flip through the rest of the book, it will be interesting to see what other influences I have "forgotten."

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