A Question about a Question

diane-arbus“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.” Diane Arbus

When looking at a waterfall, we see a blurred form to the water that appears to us as a waterfall. If we allow our eye to move down at the speed of the water we see an instance of water, sharp and well defined as it falls. With photography, we allow ourselves a different form of perception distinct from the flow of events. A separation from the flow of time and an entering into a ‘provable abstraction’, created by the photographer in the form of a question. This separation of an event from time, allows us to remember. But it is the duality of our experience of the photograph, the past appearing in the present that makes photography so intriguing.

A photograph is a question about actuality, not reality. ‘Actuality’ is what is physically present or manifest, whereas ‘reality’ is based on what is considered real and by inference, true. A photograph has ‘actuality’ by the bucket load, but its claims to reality cannot stand up as it is always an opinion based on a physical and an existential viewpoint. It is the misinterpretation, that actuality is the same as reality, which causes so much debate about the ‘truth of an image’.

A photograph is and always has been a question. The duality of viewpoint vs actuality is what gives the photograph its tension, what makes the questioning interesting. The more actual the photo- graph is the stronger the questioning process and the stronger the questioning, the more successful the photograph.

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