BTF: The Camera as Mechanical Eye

Within my research of eyes I have been thinking of the relationship between my eye and the subjects eye, all connecting through a mechanical eye as it was thought of so in the 1920s and 1930s. In order to think about this more I looked at Liz Wells book Photography: A critical introduction, 2015 specifically looking at the chapter The Camera as Mechanical Eye.

In the chapter Wells speaks about Jonathan Crary, Etienne-Jules Marey, Marta Braun, Eadweard Muybridge, Walter Benjamin and Lisa Cartwright to help explain what is meant by the camera as mechanical eye.

Without the camera in-between me and the subject we would be very close together which could make the shoot very awkward and uncomfortable but with a camera in-between in becomes more normal and my subjects have said it’s a little bit like going to the opticians.
This experience might be different because “Seeing through the camera is different from seeing without it and, since photography, seeing is a changed practice.” (Wells, 2015, pg. 213) there’s no end of ways in which photography has enabled us to see more than we would with our own eyes. I have found that people have been very interested in finding out what their eyes look like so up close and have been interested in joining my project to find out “…microscopic photography (micrography), enable us to see aspects of the body not visible to the naked eye (Ewing 1996).” (Wells, 2015, pg. 214) my work isn’t quite micrography due to me not using a microscope but by using a macro lens on the camera I am able to get more detail than you would using a standard lens. Due to all the things photography has been able to show our own seemingly primitive eyes it is easy to see how “The camera threatens to take over and displace the eye: it gets between the viewer and the viewed and ‘shapes reality according to its terms’ (Krauss 1986: 116). “ (Wells, 2015, pg. 213) the camera shows a whole new reality we were not aware of, thinking of this in terms of my own work it is strange being able to see all the different colours and patterns in the eye that my eye or their eye cannot see in reality. By taking a photograph of their eye we can discover all the different colours in the iris, sometimes their eyes are a different colour than they thought they were which is very interesting.

Overall I have found The Camera as Mechanical Eye a very interesting read and has made me look at my work in a whole other way in relation to our human eyes and the camera as a more advanced mechanical eye.

 

 

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