part 5: If I follow the logic of a viewed image

videoinstallation, sound, 2009 ........................................... Installation view, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart

The photographed gaze into the mirror sketches a different relationship between the one who photographs, the one who is photographed and the spectator’s position. I look into the photographed viewer through the raised camera, into the mirror before me, and, using a general understanding of mirrors, onto myself. In this photographed mirror, I gaze through the camera, now through a mirroring, back into your eyes which are simultaneously my eyes and the eyes of everyone who has stepped into the mirror through the photograph. Your gaze from your viewer’s position penetrates, via mirror, the surface of the image in the photographed space by way of the camera’s lense, coming out from the photographed viewer, going into my eye. My gaze, coming from your eyes, wanders over a body that must be yours and mine simultaneously, if I follow the logic of a viewed image of a mirrored situation. Not only the audience whom I imagine, but also the real audience in the first as well as in the mirrored mirror of the photographed mirroring, becomes a multiplication machine which turns my body into a body shared with every spectator, a machine which I myself also become. Real and portrayed desire, self-referential pleasure are generated neither through the presence nor through the absence of an audience. The urgency of this self-portrait results neither from an economy of exchange nor from a lack. The self-depicting subject is simultaneously his own object and audience and is aware of the simultaneity and overlapping of these conditions and places. Everyone participating in this self-portrait in the mirror has relinquished any kind of definitive position.  

 

 

Which space and which relation between the one who is photographed, the one who photographs, and the viewer’s position produces the image? How do these spaces differentiate between the point in time of their production and the point in time of their being viewed? Which stance do we take on them? What kind of work do we carry out while viewing the images and how does this work exert infuence on the relations of the participating positions to one another?

 

In retrospect, it’s difficult for me to describe my motivation for making this picture. The site was in itself spectacular, but also the moment was exceptional. Such was the situation: a number of people being transported through time. Only a here, only a now existed. The political situation was tense. The site became a haunt, visited with the purpose of gaining a bigger picture of the conflict’s territorial consequences. Why did I take this picture? – I don’t know. Even the house didn’t occur to me then, at least not that I remember. But is it a house? Or is it the model for a house, the model of a house?

      The eye of the camera casts its gaze onto a girl. She reciprocates this gaze, adopts it as her own gaze, turns away from the camera and directs the gaze at someone else in the space. Through herself she reroutes the camera’s gaze onto the person or situation that stands in the center of her own attention.

What is and what was the use of these photographs? Do they serve the conservation of a moment in time – the blink of an eye – through the reduction of physical dimensions? Is it the telling of a story, a story itself generated by the photographs, that gives them their function? Are we dealing here with images of memory? Which fleeing moment and which dissipating materiality was it that someone tried to capture in them?

Could one comprehend photographic images as events, as actions, as performances or gestures of communication? Is the meaning of an image distinctly given, or does it have to be developed time and again through its use?

The figure in front of camera 1, the figure behind camera 1, and the situation around camera 1 are known to us. I too, behind camera 2, take on a role which has over time become familiar to us. It is no longer as much the image on its own, made in order to convey something; now it is the conditions and context of its production that we inject into (the making of) our own images. This image is a moment in the flow of its construction. It doesn’t concern anyone. Pedestrians walk by. Someone makes a phonecall.

 

 

 

 

The boy reciprocates the gaze of the camera. His performance, his pose, his big gesture of self-confidence and casualness speaks to the relation between the photographer and himself, the one who poses in front of the camera. The exploitative relationship which is never entirely unavoidable when an adult photographs a child, the information that the photographer yields, his knowledge about relations of portraiture, representation, judgement and use, are all suspended momentarily through the boy’s compliance. The notice of the photographer, the attention and respect the boy is shown by an adult, appears to bring the boy, on a personal level, into balance with the photographer. This moment of his visible becoming-subject speaks equally to both the emancipatory strength of his returned gaze and to his co-option by the intention or the assignment of the photographer.

 

Is a photograph the outcome of a collaboration between various positions who collectively put a secret into an image? What remains when these three positions do not give us any clues about their motivations, purposes and biographies.

 

 

Upon the dismantling of a photo studio, pictures of men kissing men and women kissing women were found. Not a single picture depicts a man and a woman kissing. That which could not be shown publicly got (set aside and?) replaced. On occasion, situations operate like secret messages as soon as one transmits them, as soon as they arrive into a possible future. Their function, their effect on imminent spectators can differ so completely from anything and everything which one could have ever imagined in the moment of their production.

 

 

 

 

Their function, their effect on imminent spectators can differ so completely from anything and everything which one could have ever imagined in the moment of their production.

  A man on a balcony speaks to someone outside the picture. Was it the photographer’s decision not to include the person being addressed? Was the person, from the camera’s position, nowhere to be seen? Was their an agreement among the participants regarding who would and would not be seen?

One of the first photographic genres was portraiture. When, however, did groups start getting photographed; when did groups start having their picture taken? What do the pictures tell us about the motivations behind such gatherings or the mysterious intentions of those alliances? What sort of relationship do the people in the picture have with one another? Did they meet in order to have an exchange, to draw up a manifesto or to develop a declaration? What are the demands/requests/claims that these women are reading to us?

Only a cropped detail of the trees can be seen. We cannot say for certain where the ones who photograph, the ones being photographed, and the intermediary positions have met, why they have met, and who exactly showed up. The image does not offer us the big picture. The cropped detail determines the visible space. We are given neither the possibility to identify with a certain place nor the opportunity to recognize a certain subject. Focus in the foreground, blurry depth in the background. No clearly recognizable conditions of its production. Intermediary and photographer are present and absent. The image illustrates nothing and documents nothing.

 

 

 

 

These pictures are performances directed at us, performances whose continual repetition of familiar gestures has inscribed itself into the pictures as supposed narratives. Sometimes we distinguish these gestures as our own, other times they become plots in which we can position ourselves. Imaginary games, an exchange of roles, a practice of fictional and actual plots.

 

 

Who are these people looking at? Where are they looking? Do they know who is photographing them and for what purpose? Are they addressing a place and a time in the future where this photograph will be seen? A future that was their immediate future, that today is long since past? Which part of their stories, their attention, their forward focused gazes reaches out through time, finding us?