But what does it all mean….

Why this image..? What does it say..? What does it mean..?

For Roland Barthes, in Camera Lucida the photograph can be the object of three practices. You, the spectator see a rusting milk churn standing in front of a door somewhere. You have no context beyond what you see in front of you. I as the operator (photographer) chose this image both to display here, and in the first instance to take the photograph. And what of the referant? What is the vision contained within the image? What am I intending to portray? It is a “truth”, but what truth? What is taking place outside of the image and therefore have I omitted anything?

Is there perhaps a story here? Does the story change if you know where I took this photograph? In the absence of any explanation, is there any insinuated comment within the image…or the caption?

Churn. John Callaway [2016]

Churn. John Callaway [2016]

Or maybe I just liked what I saw. And if so, is it art?

The fine art print and a formalistic aesthetic are the watchwords of modernist photography. The works of Brett Weston and Ansel Adams are illustrative of this aesthetic. With postmodernism, ‘meaning’, ‘reference’ and ‘quotation’ became the key drivers.  As Liz Wells notes: “In photography, the central impact of the postmodern was to destabilise links between representation and reality”. Photographers such as Barbara Kruger incorporated other elements into appropriated images, not only to provoke thought, but to support a particular ideology.

Postmodernist photography marked a break in tradition, in the same way that in art the impressionists broke from realism and the abstractionists broke from representation. The ‘new’ representations were no longer a first order reality, but one derived from reference to other representations.

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Killing Joke…or Sonny Boy Williamson?

In 1916 Ferdinand De Saussure first postulated the existence of a general science of signs, or semiology. In viewing language as a social phenomenon, he considered it as a structured system that may be viewed both synchronically and diachronically . In his own work he focussed on the synchronic relations, (the structure created by like and differing signs, or signifiers). This idea was further developed by Roland Barthes in 1964, in Elements Of Semiology.Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign’, declares C.S. Pierce. Anything can be a sign as long as someone interprets it as ‘signifying’ something – referring to or standing for something other than itself.

In his work, the Rhetoric Of The Image, Barthes considers an image of pasta used in an advertising campaign. He posits three orders of meaning in this image:

:a linguistic message
:a coded iconic message
:a non-coded iconic message

In ‘reading’ the image, consideration of these three discontinuous meanings is required. It is the interplay of these three message-types (signifying orders) which conveys the intention behind the image.

Killing Joke... John Callaway [2016]

Killing Joke… John Callaway [2016]

Came across the above the other day, and thought that the cross and the graffiti ‘Killing Joke’ made for an interesting juxtaposition, and (maybe) was illustrative of what Barthes was referring to. It was taken with an i-phone at Titchfield Abbey in Hampshire.

Whatever…like Sonny Boy Williamson sang…

“Don’t start me talkin’
I’ll tell everything I know
I’m gonna break up this signifyin’
’cause somebody’s got to go…”