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Vision, photography and the photographic image

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I would like to introduce, from the beginning, a critical consideration of the image as a media phenomenon, and seek thereafter to make a shift from which the relationship with it would take another, perhaps liberating direction.

I'm not sure whether we are few or many people today to perceive the image as a domain and that it is an instrument of domination, nor do I know if there is insufficient awareness about the power that it unfolds for itself and about the influence that it excercise. I could also add that the image is economy, not in the sense of containment but on the contrary, of surplus: the image is part of the productivist dynamics of an economic system that carries within it the root of what some of us call capitalism of the mind, i.e. the monopoly of man's conscious and unconscious feelings. Thus the image is the image of the proliferation of capitalism that the sensible world and the human mind suffer gravely of. Because of this proliferation, the experience, as directly as possible (and that anybody can have out of which remains of unprecedented in his or her inner and what is unprecedented outside of him or her) is being usurped by a paroxysmal simulation. Life itself, I would like to say, one's own full experience is what reveals this so obvious as apparently harmless onslaught mostly. But it is not harmless because the image isn't, which, as a domain, extends itself colonizing to the point of having life to begin to absent itself. It could be agreed that life is increasingly being excluded by an operation that is perverted in nature; it is being deferred live. And this has its effects. Think -and this is a but one example-, in those groups of young Japanese who decide to lock themselves into the rooms of the houses of their parents whom they compel to the build an own kitchen as they take over the familiar one, thus completely isolating themselves from any physical contact with existence and devoting themselves to their own psychopathic telematics.

No doubt that such behaviors represent the principle of efficiency of the culture of the image by the image, which cannot be disregarded in its relationship with the technologies that generate such alienation. In this, all the cybernetics take the lead in this global transformation that affects humanity in its entirety. This generality is justified if we consider their users, who are not only the so called professionals of the image, so negatively determinants in this matter – advertisers, logo designers, etc. – but also the group of photography artists who contribute in an uncritical and credulous way to reduce life into simple plasma, into the mere spectral substance of a dematerialized world. The vast majority of the self-styled photography artists, making the latest practiced discipline in the art their own, pay homage to the prerequisites of the image epidemic, an epidemic that erodes the human unconscious. And I say photographers benevolently, knowing that the possibilities offered by the latest technologies do not turn the user of a camera into a photographer – or to use the definition that they like most to use, into an artist, or according to their puerile taste for snobbery, into a ”multidisciplinary artist”. The truth is that both the indiscriminate use of this tool as well as its acceptance and empowerment in the context of the so called ”artistic creation” contribute to the establishment of new political, moral, economic, social and cultural values that are imposing themselves on man in the world almost imperceptibly, in the sense that taking a ”absently” dogmatic appearance, they are presenting themselves as a civilizing model, but of a civilization that would like to exclude the culture of the senses to the benefit of a mechanical cerebrism that that tunes up so well with technocratic hierarchy of the civilization of the machine and of the latest generation technologies which never ends being but of latest generation.

I make this first incidence in order to ask myself about what the photographer's political consciousness is, in the emancipating sense of the term, in relation with his doings. Because when someone decides to turn his attention to an object, to this or that thing or to a being and exhibits it, he does not cease to establish a relationship with it that, in its immediacy, surpass the simple artistic purpose and puts it in relation to world. What I mean is that a real experience is occurring in these moments which precedes the artifice of aesthetic creation and its exhibition and is part of a fact of life. It appears relevant to me to stress this fact of life, because an emancipatory principle of the image partakes it which, as one will guess, does not lie in the image converted into artistic object, but in the look that gave birth to it.

Here we begin to take the other path, as it is the look that, in fact, matters, which, by anticipation, assists the image and indicates its possibility to escape the domain of images. Why? Because the act of looking belongs to life rather than of art. I speak, in order to try to make myself understood, of looking as an act of liberation in itself, which the act of creation is subsidiary of, which has its predominance, as looking on one hand precedes the act of photographing, and on the other is an exercise of vision that determines the choice of a photographic image, may it remain to be done or already made. Let us consider, anyway, that looking is a real action that constructs reality, and not necessarily dependent. One question strucks me which I consider relevant: is it necessary to have an inspired view of look in order to avoid it to be get tangled in habits and could become sterilized? I have no doubt that this is important. And it would be enough to devote special attention to the things for something to emerge with its unprecedented and promising character. It is also important to realize, in support of this presumption, that the act of looking is a major poetic act that can give life the sense of being an inspired life: the truth of being a life lived. This is absolutely legitimate to the extent that, in contrast, it faces a life demoralized. A life inspired, I say, and as partial as it may be, but that corresponds to the person who experiences it for himself, dissatisfied with the one that is predeterminated for him. This principle of freedom is central to achieving that. And if we have to think that a photographic document has to testify of such an experience, very well then, so be it. What happens is that this document does not have to be measured according to the scale of aesthetic values, and even less according to aesthetic,”learned”, erudite or specialized values, because these, it has been shown and will continue to be shown, do not succeed to access to the deep irreducibility of such documents that assert themselves as a real untransferable experience, such as, I insist again, looking is. It is impossible not to note thus that the elaboration of an own and inspired reality is making the experience of reality effective, since the finding in some cases, or the encounter in others, favors it. Therefore, what here gives this fact a value of inspiration is the inspiration that brings the subjectivity of each one into play, in the sense that it satisfies it through an action that, just as the consummation of love, fulfils the object of desire. And to desire is to create, it is the impulse that with gradual intensity, according to the unexpectedness of its outbreak, gives life its degree of authenticity: its truth.

In this regard, it is not my intention to establish a hierarchy of values between what has been selected here, which aims, however, to be representative of my approach. What it is about is to show that this level of inspiration is being judged, as I suggested, by the intensities that it releases and its encounter with the ones that one's interior requests, as well as by its relationship with a vision – a look – in which I perceive a state of the image in which it achieves a significant degree of emancipation, which associates itself with the look of the person who has generated them. Why? With all the innocence that my statement might contain, I would say that it is due to its visionary nature, that is, because they activate a sense of the unknown, a feeling of surreality, as very aptly named by the surrealists, so that the unknown rises to the surface of consciousness by an operation through which, facing the totalitarian law of imagilianation (the alienation of individual imagination – alienation of the subjective unconscious – and the alienation of the social imaginary – alienation of the collective unconscious –, through its colonization by means of the paroxysmal expansion of the image) that it tends to restore the lost, sleeping powers or powers stolen from his creative imagination to the human spirit. It deals thus with the construction of an own imaginary that concentrates, despite its current dissemination, the still ignored promises – reassessing the known ones – of utopia, putting this individual imaginary in relation with the community.

The visionary nature of what I talk about, just as what is being perceived in the real exceeding its immediate data –, and that so much has to do with the availability of ”an eye in a wild state” (André Breton), pulsates in an interior that meets its correspondence with exteriority; ie, everything that pulsates in the depths of the human psyche and that an uncontrollable movement, may it be provoked or spontaneous, involving reason or not, stimulates it, leading it to manifest its unprecedented morphology in the real; a revelation of the singularity and of the unknown that sprouts as an uncommon organism capable of forming a non-alienated imagery in the socio-mediatic and artistic-mediatic images. It is the creative, unproductive, libertarian, automatic, spontaneous, symbolic and conceptual imagination that generates those other images whose liberating potential will be preserved at least until they are being tamed by the strategies of metalanguage and reification, comes that operation wherever it comes from.

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I see three instances in each of which such an image reaches its visual concretion. They are like three realms of vision which, retaining full autonomy, bring together to the point of strengthening this relationship that I to try to establish between poetry and photography in its emancipated dimension (hence, perhaps, liberating): the conceptual, the imaginary-visionary and the subjective documentary. I always speak in terms of specific realms.


One idea contains a latent morphology to which an external form needs to be found.

For example: mirages. This is a word that clearly – worth the irony – manifest a state of visual disturbance proportional to the mental one, whereby the appearance of reality is subjected involuntarily to trial, or at least remains in suspension. But it is not exactly the mirage as a phenomenon which I am interested in clarifying here, rather another state which, however, may belong to the same genealogy. I am alluding to the one of fainting, of fading, which I use metaphorically of course. By claiming that state, I do with regard of what follows it, ie the recovery of consciousness. What I suggest is that, from a loss of consciousness and the recovery of the same, or more accurately, in the interval between the two states, shortly before the returns of complete lucidity, it is when we can restore a relationship with things that, looking like themselves, still are not the same, because what is being seen is loaded with such indetermination that the thing itself experiences a liberation from the principle of identity and suffers a commotion that leaves it open to polysemy. I suggest, in sum, that there is no need at all to know, to have knowledge; that it is not necessary to be a scholar, an encyclopaedian, to have a ”culture” in order to get a deep poetic experience of reality – surreality – and such experience is being fully manifested thanks to its immeasurable and unpredictable affectivity.

The set of photographs that I show would like to document that mental state and its encounter with reality in the poetic margin of the apparition, or said according to its reflection, with the poetic when bordering with the real through what suddenly appears.


Nature favors more the chance encounter than search: one comes to nature without searching and one starts by finding, that is, in it one discovers less by extension than by penetration. Such an elementary fact establishes itself in one of the highest forms of relationship with nature. And I am inclined to think that through it we would begin to unravel a part of our own mystery in the very fabric of the correspondences. Question of vertigo, as indeed turning vision back to nature means to give us back our most unruly, perhaps wildest look to have us feel in a revealing manner its action upon us. A look that extends the coordinates of the relationship between the outer life and inner life, leading its dialogue as far as it possibly can be lead. In the practical level of the poetic relationship with nature, the analogical spring constitutes one of the most akin means to his elucidation and advance. We do not forget that the major part of the cosmogonies of the first human societies used analogy as a form of knowledge and of relationship with the world; neither do we forget that, with the emergence of so-called modernity, analogical knowledge has been gradually replaced with what we, often with self-sufficiency, call logic and reason.

It belongs to the poet – this person who rebels against his substantivation and overcomes it – to oppose the deductive method of logic a new way of correspondence that tends to make man reencounter with his own absent reality. The analogy of poetry, ”even making it fleetingly” (”I say only analogical tools reach fleetingly towards their re-establishment”, André Breton, The rising sign,”André Breton, Selected Writings”, Monad Press, New York 1978), disentangles the skein and pull the thread that leads to the consummation of this encounter. There is no doubt that in the broad spectrum of procedures of relations with the sensitive, poetic analogy has vigorously restored and invigorated the whole field of relationships between perception and representation. Among them, photography is a medium which I have a particular predilection to because I distinguish in it an instrument with which to reveal the poetic materialism of real life, and through which one can open up new paths which, in the enchanted real, enlighten the map of the emancipated imaginary. Therefore, I would like in this specific case to put photography in the service of the ”inner model” and configurate a world whose reality makes that other reality of the immediate data in what it has of delusory fade away that is given to us to stand. For in what it has of ignored, the enchanted real doesn't stop giving us winks to seduce our fixed attention, winks in which beam tip we behold the existence of unexpected ghosts. Indeed, through photography it is possible to capture certain visual accidents that highlight the preset dimensions of external reality. Through it an underworld of forms is being revealed, lost in the gloom of the daily routine, that through being evidenced tend to make the absent reality objective. A close correspondence is being produced in this respect between the photographic approach and the inner vision in relation to the natural world. It is a correspondence that reaffirms the process of intimate attraction between outer life and inner life. This fact becomes more apparent when the natural world is being interrogated macroscopically. This macroscopic view, which on the analogical level represents a look from outside in, allows the eye to have a deeper insight into nature. Constituting in itself a visionary operation of great scope, this macrophotographic approach tends to reveal the visionary dimension of nature itself, of which one could at least say that it is made of the precious materia of the exalting and of the visually enticing substance of the voluptuous.

Such an approach builds a bridge on which natural revelation coincides with poetic revelation. It's that kind of look that inspires the encounter of these revelations through their latent affinities, i.e., through the correspondence inherent to their analogical life. It is, therefore, a principle of unity through which all pre-eminence of one thing over another is being done away with. In fact, beyond this pre-eminence the smooth flow of both revelations is being animated in that correspondence that illuminates them.

Documentary subjective:

The photographic fragment of an affective domain is one of the most appropriate ways of showing its atmosphere, which communicates with its potential surreality. This fragment remains linked, as observed, either with a macrophotographic approach, or with that of a close-up with a depth of field proportional to the amplitude of the object, may it be a site or the elements of a site. This fragment tends to draw, in its greatest optical conciseness, the fascination of the concrete. This is how a similar assessment of the concrete finishes by accentuating its own strangeness. In this photographic ”closure”, which is the technical result of a vision that precedes it, sites and locations – and we may add their objects and countenance, their forms and things, appear equally in state of bewilderment. This fragment is the point of view of greatest visual accuracy that induces an awareness of the unprecedented of the forms, since through it the mental image and the poetic operation meet and share, to objectify, with a subjective eye, the spectre of the outside: the absolute presence of the specific forms.