Read any of the photographic/cultural critical types, whether it be some french weirdo with several books publications to his name, or just some morons on twitter, and you'll be left with the impression that photographs are Hugely Important.
Often there will be some sort of effort to discuss how reality and media are getting All
Confused in our minds. The image really takes the place of reality in a sense while at
the same time reality itself is conceived of in terms of the image.
It always seems sort of convincing when you're reading it (i.e. when you're consuming a form
of media) but boy, it just takes one step out the door to realize what utter rubbish it
is. Normal people haven't got the slightest difficulty distinguishing media from reality.
Even in our media-saturated phone-centric modern world, lots and lots of people spend more
time with reality than with media.
I love sweet peas, to distraction. I plant some ever year at the base of a makeshift trellis
contraption I made out of old, busted fencing materials. The peas are sprouting now.
These little shoots are wondrous. Little fragments of striving life, soon to be masses
of green and pink and white. Hopefully they will also smell good. They are easily distinguished
from media of all types.
Indeed the experience of them, my experience of them, is un-photographable.
The visual experience of these little shoots is this:
Some grubby dirt. Some weeds. Some unassuming blotches of green that might be weeds themselves, but are not.
It's a big nothing. It's not as if my nearly ecstatic experience of these things isn't visual, though.
There's nothing else. I am not touching, smelling, hearing, or tasting these things. I am merely looking
The experience is something like this, maybe:
A kind of dramatic thrusting and striving, a dynamic leap for life, for bigness.
Of course, my experience of these little nubbins of life is mainly based on a hope for the future. I look forward
to my pile of sweet peas blooming their hearts out, trying to strangle, or at least survive, the feral nasturtiums
that share the trellis-thing.
The pea shoots are merely a symbol of the thing I really like.
But the second photograph looks nothing like the reality on the ground, which looks like the first one.
Reality is just so much richer, so much deeper, so much more stimulating and vibrant, even a shitty little weedy
thing growing out of some grubby dirt strikes me more powerfully than any photograph ever could.
I don't have a lot of trouble with reality versus "the image" and, if we are honest with ourselves, almost nobody
does. It's just a thing Very Clever people like to say. Sometimes even this Very Clever fellow.