Friday, 2 July 2010

Photography as a perfect liar.


There's very little truth to be found in photography. Whether you're taking a picture of your one year old staring in amazement at the candles on his birthday cake, or trying desperately to communicate the sensation and mood of walking the streets of Gion, the old quarters of Kyoto.

In both moments there's a photographer involved, and where there's a photographer, you'll find subjectivity without a doubt. The illusion of the machine stealing that split second of time is as grand as the Great Buddha at Todaiji in Nara, but it's all an illusion. Even if the camera documents whatever you choose to point it at, it never acts spontaneous or out of free will. It's a slave that tolis the fields of the photographers wishes, needs, urges and desires.
As soon as you even lift the camera to your eye, you have separated yourself from reality and started to create a subjective image of your own inner self. Maybe that's why photography can be such a strong medium.

It takes you on a journey inside an individual persons soul and psyche, whispering truths about the photographer rather than the photograph itself. The subject matter at hand, what your eyes see and often believe is the photograph itself, is a disguise and a mirror. It's complicated and easy. The human being lives, accumulating experiences that colors everything a human being does on a daily basis. Basically we are all creating a web of illusion that we pass of as reality, and it's this subjectiveness that makes us want to capture a moment or a person with our camera.
So we steal this second, making it ones and zeros, or if analog, we capture it on a chemically coated peace of film. It's pretty amazing that time can be caught like this, isn't it? Just reaching out and snatching it! It's definetely one of humankinds biggest achievements as far as technology goes. It's up there with writing, speaking and printing. At least in my book.

After the capturing comes the process of turning it into a photograph proper, so you do what you do and what pleases you. Or often what you think pleases others. All in order to tell your truth.
After that comes the showing of the photograph. So you hold it up for another person to see, and they really do that. They see it perfectly clear. Always.
But they see their photopgraph, not the one you captured, because they exist within their own personal web of illusion. So what they see is colored by their own experiences and in that way it really becomes their photograph. All intentions and desires for some real truth made into a fine point of light streaming in through the lens are in this way lost and turned into another piece of chaotic randomness that is the reality of human existance. And this is where the beauty really lies, isn't it.
We aim to capture truth, and it becomes a lie that becomes another individuals truth.
It's all truth, if you think about it, really.
But it's a lie.
That is true.


(photograph made by Matti Sedholm, in Gion, Kyoto, Japan 2007)

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