Photographic phenomenology

Joost, Katrin (2016) Photographic phenomenology. In: BSP Annual Conference 201: The Future of Phenomenology, 2-4 September 2016, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

We encounter photographs every day, in papers and magazines, on TV, online, through social media, as well as all sorts of information material. It therefore shapes how we understand the world as possibly photographed (Sontag, 1977). The ubiquity of photography is so prevalent that we do not notice it anymore. Yet, photography shapes our being in the world. According to Barthes' contemplation on photography (1980), it is a magical medium, since it is always of the particular and therefore disrupts the temporal flow and spacial logic of ordinary perception. Looking at, for example, the famous photograph The Terror of War, (Ut, 1972), depicting children running from a South Vietnamese attack, we see a particular girl, Phan Thị Kim Phúc when she was burned by a napalm bomb. We see that instant in 1972 in the image. Photography can transport us to that moment and show that particular girl. Phenomenology reveals this fundamental aspect of photography. Moreover, photography itself can be seen as phenomenological investigation. Some photographic projects (e.g. Spence's A Picture of Health, 1985) disclose the nature of phenomena through the visualisation of what it means to experience them (e.g. suffering from cancer). Photographic image production can go beyond the sheer depiction of objects and engage the viewer on a very intuitive level with the phenomena they are about. Phenomenological analysis of how the world appears to us through the eidetic reduction and epoché is a complex philosophical process that still tends to be confined to words. Photography, arguably can be used to perform similarly, but do so in a much more intuitive manner. Husserl's call to do phenomenology (HUA III) could be achieved through doing photography.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Departments: Graphics and Photography
Depositing User: Katrin Joost
Date Deposited: 02 May 2019 16:10
Last Modified: 02 May 2019 16:10
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/4690

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