An Unnecessary Complication

A manifesto

by Lena-Franziska Posch

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Taking a picture. Taking something from someone. Shooting someone. Photographing seems quite a violent act.

Click.

Done.

A 1/200 of a second that defines an everlasting relationship creating a 2-dimensional object: detached from its context, existing through space.

The opening and closing of the shutter. The transformation of relations and environments, connections and structures into a two-dimensional object — light and chemicals – and then eternity. 

When you look through old pictures in a flea market, with never-ending faces smiling at you, life and silent stories piled on top of each other: who are these people? Are they dead?

No context, no names, no identities.

No photographer. But, a 2-dimensional object holding the reflections of light forever.

And now these nameless creatures settle in the internet, leading an inanimate existence doomed to remain in the same moment forever. Silent victims of instrumentalization: suddenly a meme, put in a different context. Proof of some theories.

Underneath the chemical surface of this 2-dimensional object you’ll find a knot of relations:

The relation between the photographer and the camera, the photographer and the photographed and the photographed and the image. Between the photographer and the image. The viewer and the photographer. The viewer and the photographed.

Does the act of taking a picture alter the photographed subject into an object? Is it objectifying? What are the relations of power?

I am wondering: Is the camera is an instrument of power and has it always been a subject or object of instrumentalization? In the hands of the oppressor it easily becomes the instrument of propaganda, to cover and make the oppression invisible. In the hands of the oppressed the camera becomes a weapon, revealing the oppression and making the invisible visible. Everybody is claiming the truth while the image keeps silent. And the viewer? Just sees the reflection of his/her own belief system. It is a document of truth only as long as it isn’t viewed by a person – subjective, wavering.

Graphic: Lena-Franziska Posch