Imagin[in]g Reality



Our work mainly consists of mechanically reproduced (and reproducible) images - films, photographs and videos - and unless it is essential to distinguish between them, these general remarks apply to them all.



From the beginning photographic images have been ascribed a reality quotient which painting never possessed and although many paintings have been constructed with direct and indirect aid from photographic techniques, there still exists a veracity differential.



The common-sense position is based on the fact that the camera can record what is in front of the lens and acts in some respects as a mechanical eye. This, in turn, lent the photograph a spurious scientific objectivity which, despite that knowledge, gave it an evidential (reality-validating) position based on its precision. Just how Janus-like photography could be is provided by Livingstone’s 1858 Zambesi expedition. He used a photograph of the Kebrabasa Rapids (evidence of having been there) as evidence of navigability (which was untrue) in order to obtain funds for a steamboat.



Although the eye / camera equation is endowed with a certain technical accuracy it is really the mind which sees. On a purely sensory level, information through the eye is melded, consciously and unconsciously, to other information in the brain. The outcome is thus a composite.


In other words, the eye is simply a sensor and the mind is a relevance filter. One should not mistake the retinal image with perception, since what perceives is not the eye but the ‘I’. What is being seen, in this context, is a constructed document representing , and only interpretable within, cultural reality.