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This blog is intended to showcase my pictures or those of other photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment - photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful..

>>>> Comments, commentary and lively discussions, re: my writings or any topic germane to the medium and its apparatus, are vigorously encouraged.

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civilized ku # 857 ~ "Rosebud"

In the LEFT TURN LANE ~ 8th & W 23rd - NYC • click to embiggen
In his thoughtful comment regarding my entries, re: place (civilized ku # 836/37/38), Matt Dallos stated (in part):

...Have you ever noticed that people who are rooted in their “home” place are often able to capture/understand/interpret other places? It’s almost like connection with a place is some sort of language that we develop; once you understand or are able to interpret that language in one place, you understand it everywhere. I don’t mean to imply that you learn one place and then apply that cookie cutter idea to other places. Rather, once you understand the language of place, you are more willing to open yourself to other place and you are willing to accept the truth of wherever you are...

There haven't been much in the way of comments about the idea/concept of place vs. a place. Perhaps the notion is a little bit beyond the general interest / curiosity of the room, or maybe it's just a bit too esoteric / hippy-dippy for most. Nevertheless, I'll plod onward and see where it goes, in part, because I think that the concept of place is linked to that of seeing. At least, I believe that to be so, re: my way of seeing.

That said, Matt's idea that "connection with a place is some sort of language that we develop" is interesting to me.

First of all, picture making at its best is the use of visual language at its best - while it's certainly true that a cigar is sometimes just a cigar, or picture wise, that sometimes a picture of a cigar is just a picture of a cigar, there are times when, picture wise as in life, a cigar (and a picture thereof) is much more than just a cigar (and a picture thereof).

Roland Barthes' idea of studium and punctum, a picture's dry facility vs. its provoked unexpected emotional response, goes a long way in the cause of explaining the difference between a picture's referent and its connoted. Punctum, according to Barthes, "is a kind of subtle beyond – as if the image launched desire beyond what it permits us to see…"

Now, even though I agree with Barthes' belief that punctum is very subjective and personal, I also believe that an insightful and incite-ful picture that is the result of a picture makers's use of referent selection and how that referent is presented (a visual language) can result in punctum/connoted that is not only personal but also generally universal in its affect. Some pictures makers are just better than others when it comes to making pictures, aka: using visual language, which open the door to some form of "universal" / shared punctum - no matter how personal the initial "prick" might be.

Leaving for you to decide the punctumness of my pictures, I can say that my picture making referent selection, as an integral part of my visual language and an influential component of my seeing, is based upon (as I now understand more fully) a belief that the experience of living life is best summed up in the accumulative effect of living the "everyday" / inhabiting the "commonplace". Futhermore, IMO, it is the everyday / commonplace that roots one to a place and from which one can construct a sense of place. And, it is through having a sense of place that one can best make pictures of place that go beyond the dry facility of a picture of a place.

That is why I make pictures of the everyday and the commonplace, or what many might label as the banal. That is why I intuitively tend to notice and picture the details of a place - i.e. a place's parts - rather than the grand scenic of a place. To my way of seeing (and thinking), a place is the sum of its parts and the best way to see, and perchance to understand, the whole is to see and understand the parts.

IMO, if one hopes and wishes to make pictures of place rather than just pictures of a place, one needs to understand a place. And, to address Matt's question, re: "people who are rooted in their 'home' place are often able to capture/understand/interpret other places", I wholeheartedly agree. Once one develops the insight to "understand" one place, it's much easier to "understand" another place, even if that place is very different from the one you first learned to "understand".

Reader Comments (2)

Hey, Mark. I wrote a rather lengthy comment on this post a few hours ago. The I hit the "create post" button and it seemed to be doing its thing (like sending an email). But then - nothing. It never showed up. Any ideas before I try to recreate the danged thing? I suppose it could be at my end, but I don't see how.

Hmmm. Didn't get the "type the characters" box after the initial attempt.....

February 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Maxim

Paul - that "type the characters" box is something new squarespace has added. I just noticed the other day when I was responding to a comment.

I assume that the problem you encountered is related to the "type the characters" box. It's not something I requested / approved but I assume it will keep out the ever-persistent spam purveyors' crap.

February 18, 2011 | Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis

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