image map

Factographies: Photo-Hunt in Virtual Space




Photography is often seen as an aggressive act, and motives for aggression are numerous. As to Bole's photographs, we are primarily concerned with whether this is, on the one hand, the sort of activity which - when looked at in depth - can be linked to the hunt, even though this is no longer the symbolic plunder and appropriation of objects seen in classical photography, but of their pictures. Alternatively, is this perhaps an act of aggression in the sense of an irrational, unintentional and instinctive halting (or killing), caused by disharmony, threat, and consequently resistance.

As early as the turn of the century, Georg Simmel spoke of metropolitan hyper-stimulation resulting in both apathy and a desire for the shocking, and even dadaist photo-montages are being interpreted as artists' responses to visual saturation produced by urban setting. Since that time, from the point of view of survival, this latter has become even more complex. Surely we can no longer speak of the scarcity of visual impressions, of the hunger for pictures which in the 19th century could hardly be satisfied.

The world has actually became physically smaller, but human, particularly visual artefacts have intensely compressed our surroundings in terms of information, which already hinders individual mental orientation and transferability. The production of vast numbers of images, until recently provided by photography and film and distributed by the popular press, has been overtaken in recent decades by electronic media. In the late twenties, Siegfried Kracauer spoke of photographs which threaten human recollection and hinder the perception of the world, but in view of current 24-hour TV schedules his concern now seems ridiculous. The quantity of such artefacts no longer surprises anybody. Moreover, it frequently seems to be the senseless and ineffective free running of a self-sufficient machine.

But of course, old Kracauer was right. In the light of his interpretations of photography, even screened pictures no longer represent useful information, nor even harmless entertainment, but a poisonous electronic fog which insistently enfolds the sensual reality.

This, however, generates resistance. The production of information still continues with all its redundancy, but it is primarily intended "for others". In the field of non-commissioned, private creativity - of which we speak here - the creator is not usually concerned with shaping of any more information.

Bole also is not trying to catch any special exotic "game". For his slide and photo-installations he chooses banal, ready-made images intended for the widest possible public. This time he has chosen a cheap pornographic video film with the rather mundane iconography of the genre, although it is somehow "non-hygienic".

The screen as a glowing, apparently living and incessantly changing membrane first acts on the viewers as an anti-depressant; it amuses them, but then it gradually pushes them into a kind of half-slumber and - which is essential - along the way it feeds them with "instructions" according to which they should harmonise their life with pre-aligned mega-trends.

When we take hold of the camera in such conditions and take a photograph of the screen, this is primarily an act of instant awakening; it represents an action initiated by the alert, creative subject; it is the making of an impulsive, unreflected, sharp scratch, a graffito on the wall of the virtual glass bell with which the media are trying to cover us.

But at the same time, these half-controlled interventions in the flow of video narration mean that the subjects plot the terrain, or that they leave behind certain marks in the time-space of virtual happening, with which they try to orientate themselves in a new immaterial reality, and to appropriate it.

Bole has deliberately used a subversive medium which, in terms of its ability to reproduce reality, is technologically underdeveloped. Thus photography functions as a primitive, rough, and yet mechanical device of protest against video as an inaudible, indulgent and ceaselessly intermingling flow of images that make you sleep. It freezes and materialises the screen image, and thus deprives it of its basic media characteristics, while also exposing its rough structure, its techno-sfumato and its dreadful reduction of colours which we fail to perceive both because of the dynamic of events and because of habituation to it. It is because of these characteristics that screen images make us blind rather than enabling us to see.

To photograph the screen, therefore, is a diversion in the field of electronic media, which aims to reach more authentic visual information situated not in iconography, but rather in the facture of a picture. It seems that one part of independent photographic production - even in the conditions of the post-modernistic mania of referring - does not deny cognitive ambitions, and condenses the critical essence of modernism in its own particular way.

Primož Lampič

Translation B. C.

Osnovni podatki | Oddelki | Vstopna stran | Dogodki | Nazaj