Essay Research: Kant and Hume

For further research for my essay on the ethics of photographing suffering I looked at philosophers such as Kant and Hume’s theoretical thoughts on ethics, and related it to Ferrato and Hine’s books and images.

Immanuel Kant’s thesis on ethics is that the motive of an action was far more important than the action itself and its consequences. He thought that in order to know whether or not someone was acting morally you had to know what their intention was. “ (Warburton, 2012) with Kant’s theory on ethics it wouldn’t be enough to just look at Ferrato’s and Hine’s photographs in their books to know whether what we are seeing is ethical or not but would need to know why they took them. Kant also thought that “it was clear that a moral action was one performed out of a sense of duty, rather than simply out of inclination or feeling or the possibility of some kind of gain for the person performing it. “ (Warburton, 2012) this is where the ethicalness on Ferrato and Hine’s books could be questioned, as both would have gained from publishing their work and selling the books. Through wanting to show an audience the sufferings of the people they photographed they have gained money as they would have to sell them to get anything out of it themselves.

In contrast to Kant’s views on ethics, David Hume argues that rather than reason being the main role when we make ethical decisions, it is feelings “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” (Hume, 1994) For Hume, reason only plays a small role in how we make ethical decision, it is only through emotion that we can tell the difference between good and evil. When thinking of both Hine and Ferrato’s work with this ethical thesis in mind, it appears that the subject of the images is morally wrong, but by the act of having the emotional capacity to photograph them and show others to raise awareness could be argued to mean that the books are ethically correct.

Bibliography

Singer, P. (ed.) (1994) Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Warburton, N. (2012) Philosophy: The basics. 5th edn. London: Taylor & Francis.

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BTF: Self Assessment

Within the module my work developed through actively taking pictures of the eyes and trying different lighting techniques. I learned that the best way to photograph an eye with a medium format Hasselblad was to use a ring flash rather than hard lights or soft boxes to get the result I wanted. At first I was mainly interested in the iris patterns in the eyes and so didn’t want the flash to effect this, as even with using Photoshop it’s hard to edit the flash out. By using the ring flash, I could focus the light to the pupil, making it easy to edit out. As I was having to use Photoshop to do my editing I also gained confidence and a better knowledge of the software as I don’t use it often. I wanted to use the digital medium format Hasselblad as I don’t often work with digital cameras and thought that it would give me the most detail possible.

For my project The Divine I focused mainly on the philosophy of the Design Argument. This is the religious argument that is used as evidence that God exists. It is based on the theory that because such complex natural objects as the eye exists, it is only possible that someone all-powerful created it. The eye and the watch get compared; the watch is obviously made by a watchmaker and the eye is created by a ‘divine’ watchmaker. It was from this idea which I began to see my eye images in a different way and began to play with the idea of recreating the images with my own hand. The idea was to have the watchmaker and the divine watchmaker coming together. A mix between the man made and the divinely made, tricking the eye into thinking they’re seeing the same thing.

I was also interested in thinking of the camera as a mechanical eye and the relationship between my eye, the mechanical eye (the camera) and the subjects eye. When photographing mine and the subject’s eyes were connected through the camera, without the camera in between us the experience would have been very intimate and possibly uncomfortable. When thinking about how I presented the images this thought made a difference to how big I wanted the images printed.

Although most of my work was created during post-production I found that seeing them printed out made a big difference to the connection I felt. I wanted to experience them in a similar way to how I took them, so I found the photo book is my favourite way to display them as when flicking through the book it feels quite intimate as you’re in close proximity to the images. I also think that by having ten final images for the photo book and on the wall, makes it more interesting and has more on an impact than if there was only a few. Overall I am pleased with how my project has turned out, I think the images display my concept in an interesting and engaging way.

BTF: Introduction for gallery wall

­­­The Divine by Lucy Dack

For my project The Divine I focused mainly on the philosophy of the Design Argument. This is the religious argument that is used as evidence that God exists. It is based on the theory that because such complex natural objects as the eye exists, it is only possible that someone all-powerful created it. The eye and the watch get compared; the watch is obviously made by a watchmaker and the eye is created by a ‘divine’ watchmaker. In my work, I have shown work by the watchmaker and the divine watchmaker coming together. A mix between the man made and the divinely made. The subject matter of these images may be the eye, but they have been captured and re-imaged through the camera and editing software.

BTF: Exhibition Layouts

exhibition-layout1exhibition-layout2

I wanted to do a couple of exhibition layout mock ups to see what the images will look like in the gallery environment. As they are A4 this is the sort of size i think they will be on the wall. I’m not sure if I’ve got the sizing right, they might appear smaller. I do however think that the layout will work well in the gallery space, even at a smaller size. The second image I included a sample image that had a plinth as I will need one to have my photo book on.

I think by having a smaller size, the image quality is better as they are cropped images from the eyes, but also it will make it so people might have to walk up to them to see what they are which is what I wanted.

exhibition-layout3

I also wanted to see what it would look like if my images were a larger size on the gallery wall. I think if I had more space, or was perhaps a part of a exhibition for less people I would print them this size, or I would instead of having them together spread them about around the room.

I have however become quite fond of the smaller size, because of the better quality of image, although if they were printed out larger the grain would perhaps mask more what you were looking at. They would become more like paintings than photographs I think.

If like that I have ten final images, if there were less I don’t think it would have as much of an impact. However if I perhaps only used one the connection between the photo book and the images on the wall would perhaps be less obvious. If I only had one I would print it out bigger as well, so as I said it would be more grainy and painterly. I am happy with my decision of printing them all out though, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all looks together.

 

BTF: Final photo book

I am really pleased with how my photo book has come out in the end, I have created a title page for it and have decided to title my project The Divine because of it’s connect to the Design Argument and the thought of a Divine maker creating the eye. I thought that the font went well with this concept, italics is a reasonably old font type which I think goes with the age of the creation of eyes. I also think it reminds me of the font which is used on this for this site, and like the italics of the words The Divine in it.

I really like having these images displayed in this way alongside the images on the wall, I think having them small makes it a lot more intimate, I like that people will have to prick it up and flick through it. Also because it will possibly be handled a lot I am also glad that I did not spend a lot making it, so if it does get ruined I can easily make another one, although I hope that it won’t.

I will be very interested to see whether the connection is made between the photo book and the images on the wall. Whilst I was printing my images that are to be displayed on the wall another student who hadn’t seen my work guessed what the iris images were straight away so I don’t think it will be as difficult as I first thought. Even seeing the iris enlargements on their own, it seems easy to guess what they are, but maybe in the exhibition it will be harder when they are among lots of different work.

Over all I am really pleased with the outcome of all of my images, it will be very interesting to see if all put together in the exhibition.

Simulacra and Simulations: Debord and Baudrillard

Imitation, fake bags, artificial realities, looking at both photography and cinema.
Computer technologies, areas in our everyday lives – weather forecasting and gaming.

Sean Cubitt on ‘simulation’

‘a copy without a source, an imitation that has lost its original’.

And he adds that: ‘the theory of simulation is a theory about how our images, our communication and our media have usurped the role of reality, and a history of how reality fades’.

Sean Cubitt, Simulation and Social Theory, London: Sage, 2001, p.1.

  • Replication of reality.
  • Image comes to dominate after the first world war. Society of spectacle.

Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (1967)

‘all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation’.

Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (1967), Exeter: Rebel Press, 1987, s.1.

  • Idea of false.

Gucci ad campaign

picture1

  • Commodity rather than the actual object, not based on how well it can carry stuff.

‘Simulacrum’ and ‘Simulation’

A ‘simulacrum’ is defined as:

‘1. any image or representation of something.

  1. a superficial likeness’ (Collins dictionary).

‘Simulation’, though involves more than simply imitation and can be defined as:

‘1. The action or practice of simulating with intention to deceive; false pretence.

  1. A false assumption or display … a surface resemblance or imitation, of something.’ (OED).
  • Decline of reality, pushing ideas, reality as dessert.

Baudrillard’s ‘Simulacra and Simulations’ (1981)

If once we were able to view the Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly (the decline of the Empire witnesses the fraying of this map, little by little, and its fall into ruins, though some shreds are still discernible in the deserts …and rotting like a carcass … as the double ends by being confused with the real through aging) – as the most beautiful allegory of simulation …

Sean Cubitt – on Baudrillard and reality

‘reality itself has been so profoundly altered by its infection and ultimate integration into spectacle that there is no outside, no remaining reality, to compare the simulation with.’

Sean Cubitt, Simulation and Social Theory, p.42.

  • Image of the product replaces life itself.

Jean Baudrillard ‘Simulacra and Simulations’

Baudrillard sees the rise of simulacra as occurring in four stages in the evolution of the image:

  1. It is the reflection of a basic reality.
  2. It masks and perverts a basic reality.
  3. It masks the absence of a basic reality.
  4. It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum.
  • Create their own reality.

The ‘hyperreal’

Baudrillard defines the hyperreal as the realm of ‘the hallucinatory resemblance of the real to itself’.

Baudrillard, cited in Cubitt, Simulation and Social Theory, London: Sage, 2001, p.46.

  • Can refer to the Gucci ad campaign; super glossy, reality can’t compete with it.

The ‘desert of the real’

Cubitt explains that ‘the real itself has died’, but that ‘the image of the real has been resurrected posthumously in the form of images and stories, the mass media production of data and evidence, news and ‘objectivity’ in place of the dead real’.

Sean Cubitt, Simulation and Social Theory, p.52.

  • Displaced by adverts, cyberspace, world of the hyperreal. Element of exaggeration, ad dominates our lives.

Disneyland Park, Florida.

picture2

  • Infantile
  • Simulation, America is Disneyland – Disneyland masks the reality of America.
  • Artificial reality.
  • Baudrillard claims that Disneyland exists as a simulation that is ‘there to conceal the fact that it is the “real” country, all of “real” America, which is Disneyland’.
  • Disneyland exists, Baudrillard claims, ‘to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation’. Baudrillard, ‘Simulacra and Simulations’, p.172.
  • Examples of the journeys you can make within the space of one city. Simulations of different areas around the world.

Ski Dubai

  • Massive environmental cost, real snow, penguins in a -4 degree simulated environment.
  • The reality of what it looks like from the outside, massive air conditioned building.
  • Part of one of the biggest shopping centres in the world. Mass Consumerism.

Seagaia Ocean Dome Miyazaki, Japan.

picture9

  • Guarantee of safety, a risk-free environment.
  • Paradox.
  • Disturbed relationship with reality.
  • Simulation and what it relates to next to each other.

Andreas Gursky

  • Simulating the land.
  • Fits into the art market.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays, 2009.

  • Alternative reality.
  • Making it clear it’s not real.
  • No sense the people in the images believe they’re somewhere else.

Zilla van den Born

“I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media–we create an ideal world online, which reality can no longer meet . . . My goal was to prove how common and easy it is for people to distort reality. Everyone knows that pictures of models are manipulated, but we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”
Zilla van den Born, 2014.

Discussion point – Zilla van den Born’s fake holiday.

  • What are the most interesting issues raised by this example?

The way it is possible for people to create a fake reality, in the days before photoshop and editing technologies this wouldn’t be possible, but now we can fabricate any reality we want with the right skills and software on our computer. The goes against what the photograph was meant to be in the beginning; what once was meant to be used as evidence can now be used to essential lie.

  • What does it tell us about our sense of self-identity and the role of social media?

There is a pressure for people to have an adventurous and interesting lifestyle, people don’t tend to put everyday things on social media. People want to look the best version of themselves on social media, and this sometimes means faking a more luxurious lifestyle than they do.

  • What does it tell us about our relationship with reality and the role played in that by the photograph?

Reality and the photograph can now be disconnected, we don’t have to show the real in images anymore, we can create our own. This makes the relationship very complicated between the real and the photograph.

Movies

The Truman Show (Dir. Peter Weir, 1998).

  • Replaces his original life. Baby adopted by a company, grown up in a TV show.
  • Real world – part of the Disneyworld site, artificle.
  • Commercial links.

The Matrix (1999)

picture23

  • Makes a direct reference to Simulacra and Simulation.
  • Reality of a simulation.
  • Computer technologies central.

Discovery of Lascaux caves, Montignac, France, September 1940.

  • 30,000 years old collection of images found in a cave.
  • Able to travel back in time.
  • Mould started to appear after human interaction.
  • An artificle cave was made next door to it, 90% likeness to the original cave.
  • Number 4 planned to be a full simulation of the entire cave. Full body experience.

Thomas Demand

  • Models out of paper.
  • Cardboard, based on a postcard of a grotto.
  • Simulation of being inside a grotto.
  • Relationship with nature.

Joan Fontcuberta, Fauna, 1987.

Fontcuberta writes that: ‘We experience the contemporary world as a series of overlapping simulacra’, and that ‘appearances have replaced reality’.  Fontcuberta writes of the ‘naivety’ of the common belief that ‘every photograph is evidence’ and describes his project in terms of demonstrating how photography is constructed: ‘photography does not lie’, he says, ‘but photographers certainly do’.

Joan Fontcuberta, Pandora’s Camera, London: Mack, 2014, p.7-8.

  • Authenticity
  • Naturalist recording, drawings and sound.
  • Created a narrative – they found all the work and are just displaying it.

Joan Fontcuberta, Orogenesis, Pollock, 2002.

‘The process of mountain formation, especially by a folding and faulting of the earth’s crust.’
Joan Fontcuberta, Landscapes without Memory, New York: Aperture, 2005.

Using a topographic computer program that converts map contours into three-dimensional images, Fontcuberta has scanned landscape paintings and photographs, then used the program to select an alternative viewpoint from within the digital scan to make a new work from the old.

Joan Fontcuberta: Stranger than Fiction, exhibition guide, Science Museum, London, 2014.

  • Sublime.
  • Landscapes no one has seen before.
  • Simulation of a landscape working with existing data.
  • Landscaped with no memory.

Fontcuberta writes that he was concerned with two issues:

  1. ‘the way in which the refinement of these programmes threatens the iconic status of the photograph as a literal transcription of reality’
  2. ‘the crisis of landscape in art and photography – the loss of landscape as place and its environmental destruction’.

Fontcuberta, Landscapes without Memory, NY: Aperture, 2005, p.5.

‘These are landscapes without memory, without history: nothing has happened in them …’.

Fontcuberta, Landscapes without Memory, p.7.

Geoffrey Batchen

Geoffrey Batchen observes that the results ‘are surprisingly similar’, regardless of the source of the image, and that the programme seems to know what kind of spectacular, unconquered landscape that we prefer. The outcome is a mix of nature and art, but Batchen says the result is ‘indeterminate’: ‘neither art nor nature, his landscapes are a simulacrum of both’. Reality, he adds, is ‘left out of the representational equation altogether and is thereby cast into doubt’.

Geoffrey Batchen, ‘Photography by the numbers’, in Fontcuberta, Landscapes without Memory, p.9-10.
Batchen, ibid. p.10.

Joan Fontcuberta, Sputnik, 1997.

  • Secret soviet space program that failed, secret tragedy.
  • Simulated photography implicated in truth, can lie to us.
  • Some are too ridiculous and excessivlely humorous, interesting ideas can get lost.

Cristina de Middel, The Afronauts, 2012.

  • I started researching true stories people don’t believe and fake stories they do. If you play around with reality, it gives a completely different dimension to the idea of photography as a document. Normally, photography is understood as being true: we assume nothing is manipulated, especially if it’s in a newspaper.
  • One day, on a trawl of the internet, I came across a YouTube interview with Edward Makuka Nkoloso, leader of the short-lived Zambian space programme in the 1960s. I couldn’t believe it was real – then I realised I was in the very situation I wanted to set up. I became aware of my own prejudice, in thinking Africa couldn’t possibly go to space. It also brought home the fact that the continent is often treated unfairly by the media: most news pictures we see from Africa show war and suffering, even though there are other things going on.
  • Cristina de Middel, interview The Guardian, 11 June 2014.
  • Done in Spain, borrowed space suits.
  • More lyricle.
  • Reseached true stories and fake ones.
  • Wanted it to have credibility.
  • Small production, just the images in the book.

Essential Reading: Baudrillard, Jean, ‘Simulacra and Simulations’, in Baudrillard, Selected Writings, Polity (2001).

 

 

BTF: Layout for Exhibition

Now that I have all of my final images together I have been trying out different orders I could display them it.

To begin with I decided to see what they looked like vertical, however, because I will have a plinth for my photo book this may be too tall so you won’t be able to see the top images very well. I also struggled with the different colours, there are quite a few browns which I tried to split up. I think out of the two layouts shown above I prefer image 2 as I think I’ve managed to split the colours up more effectively. These layouts were taken from the order of my photo book, but as they’re meant to be separate I don’t think these images need to be in the same order.

 

iris-layout3
Image 3
iris-layout4
Image 4

I then decided to try them horizontal rather than vertical and I think that these will work much better. Image 3 is the same order as image 2, I think this order works better being horizontal, but I still didn’t think it looked quite right. For image 4 I decided that instead of trying to split up the colours I would work with them, so I tried to put them in order of colour and also dark to light. This layout I think works the best out of them all. I think with these images as they’re next to each other, rather than being on separate pages like the photo book it’s best to order the colours next to each other rather than trying to separate them.

I am really pleased with the how my iris images look, especially when seeing them all together. I think all the different colours and patterns look really interesting together, notably how I have a range of dark to bright colours.

BTF: Final images for the wall

I have now chosen my final images which are going to be displayed in the wall along side my photo book. I have decided to print them out at A4 size, if I were doing this for an exhibition where I would have more space ideally they would be much bigger than this, probably A1. As I will need the prints to hand in at the end of the module I did not want to print them out both ways as this would have been too expensive because I have 10 final images. If I had less then I would perhaps have done them all at A3.

To begin with when printing out my images I tried Pinnacle Matte photographic paper, however the first image didn’t have enough contrast when printed on this paper and became very flat, which is not how I wanted them to look. Editing the image to add more contrast messed up the colour as well. I was going to try photo rag paper but as the cheaper matte didn’t turn out very well I didn’t think there was any point trying it as I needed the paper to reflect the light more to get more contrast in my images.

In order to try and get more contrast in my images I tried lustre paper instead, this is the equivalent to semi gloss, so it’s in between matte and gloss. This worked much better and gave me the contrast I wanted in my images. As you can see from the images below just the change in paper made a big difference to the way my images looked. The paper used for images is very important as each has a different quality and reflects the light in different ways.

I am now very happy with how my final images for the wall look, it’s very interesting seeing them is this way, I’m now going to play around with the order to see how I want to display them, I’m not sure how much room I will have so this may change how I will be able to.

BTF: Photo book progress

My photo book is now ready to print so I went to the book printers to do colour profile tests, but the paper I am planning on using (Inkjet Spectra matte) doesn’t have one that is already provided and I have not been successful in finding one online either. To try and resolve this issue I decided to try different colour profiles which are already set up on the printers but this was very successful.

As you can see from the images of the tests none of them resemble the correct colours, they’re either too dull or too vibrant. Another issue is how obvious the pupil is as I blacked it out so that the ring flash could not be seen in it.

Unfortunately because none of the colour profiles I tried worked I am going to print the photo book out using my own printer as this is what I used to make the photo type of the photo book and the colours are the closest using this. The reason the paper I bought doesn’t work with the book printers is because it isn’t fine art paper but is office paper and so by using an ordinary printer without a colour profile actually makes it come out better.

The next thing I will have to do is print it out and then fold all of the pages together, I have decided to hold it together using an elastic band, the same way I did the prototype. I wanted it to be fairly simple and low cost so I think that it will work well for what I want it for, I quite like that it will look hand made rather than machine made as I think this goes with the concept of the project well, the man made and the divinely made.

Essay Research: Lewis Hine

2016-12-11-16-07-52
Kemp, J.R. and Hine, L.W. (1986) Lewis Hine: Photographs of child labor in the new south. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

Lewis Hine’s book Lewis Hine: Photographs of Child Labor in the New South (1986) show a selected number of photographs from Hines work photographing child labor. These images were used in campaigns for the National Child Labor Committee, they were used to illustrate their books, articles, and pamphlets. Hine’s photographs were used as evidence to expose child labor “Their realism provided powerful, irrefutable evidence of the horrors of child labor in all its forms-horrors that the mill owners, the New South boosters, and even the desperately poor parents of the child workers tried to deny. “ (Kemp and Hine, 1986) by looking at the photographs Hine hoped that it would make them realise what they were doing was wrong, and by showing the public these images too that they would join the National Child Labor Committee’s cause to put an end to it.

Hine himself believed that “Whether it be a painting or a photograph, the picture is a symbol that brings one immediately into close touch with reality. . . . In fact, it is often more effective than the reality would have been, because, in the picture, the non-essential and conflicting interests have been eliminated. “ (Kemp and Hine, 1986) the only voice the photographs Hine took are the viewers, they make you ask yourself if what you are seeing is right or wrong, should these children be working from the age of eight or younger? Some at three years old are already ‘learning the trade’. When Hine spoke to the mill owners and the parents they say that it builds character but most of the children and even their parents can’t read or write their own names. In the photographs, you don’t hear the thoughts of the people who are trying to justify it, or the voice of the National Child Labor Committee, unless they are being viewed in one of their articles or seen in one of their exhibitions. By showing the reality in his images Hine’s allows the viewer to make their own moral decision, however “The images of working children were meant to shock and anger their viewers, to rouse the public against a system Hine abhorred. “ (Kemp and Hine, 1986) the images did have a purpose and were meant to arouse a certain emotion in the viewers.

Hine’s was very emotionally involved in the work he did on child labor “He was genuinely concerned about the children he photographed. He met them as individuals; he spoke with them and listened to their stories. “ (Kemp and Hine, 1986) he wasn’t just there to take the pictures and move on and forget, he re-visited areas again to see if there was any improvement of their treatment towards the children as the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) made progress in helping change the laws on child labor in different states.

I am not sure whether I am going to include Hine’s book in my essay or not, I think that comparing it to Ferrato’s book works well as they both deal with social issues. They both also raise interesting questions on whether it’s ethically correct that the images were taken for their purposes.

Bibliography

Kemp, J.R. and Hine, L.W. (1986) Lewis Hine: Photographs of child labor in the new south.