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Geoffrey Batchen:  guilty   pleasures  

Geoffrey Batchen        Geoffrey  Batchen's  worked  as  a  teacher,  writer   and  curator  that  focuses  on  the  history  of   photography.  He  is  par=cularly  interested  in   the  way  that  photography  mediates  every   other  aspect  of  modern  life,  whether  we're   talking  about  sex  or  war,  atoms  or  planets,   commerce  or  art.  A  lot  of  Geoff's  work   addresses  the  methodological  challenge  that   this  study  poses  for  art  history.    

Jeremy Bentham’s  panop=con  and  the  no=on   of  always  being  watched  as  been  with   photography  from  the  very  beginning  of   photography  in  1800.  “Photography  served  to   introduce  the  panop=con  into  daily  life.”                hKp://  

Jeremy Bentham  designed  the  Panop=con.  It  was  considered  the  model  prison   as  all  the  prisoners  could  be  seen  at  one  =me  but  the  prison  guards  were   hidden  from  view  causing  the  constant  feeling  of  always  being  watched.        

Photography from  the  1800’s..  

William Henry  Fox  Talbot  (the  English  inventor  of  photography)   oTen  led  his  camera  obscura  lying  about  his  grounds.  His  wife   referred  to  such  cameras  as  mousetraps  because  they  secretly   caught  people  in  the  moment  who  were  unaware.  However  this   could  seen  as  a  “poten=ally  dangerous  capaci=es  for  capturing   things.”  –Very  controversial  but  again  shows  how  this  style  of   photography  has  been  around  from  the  very  beginning.                    

Around the  =me  of  1842  however,  people  were  being  asked  to   pose  as  if  they  are  unaware  that  they  are  being  photographed  as   shown  on  the  image  on  previous  slide.            As  John  Herschel  called  it,  it’s  “ac=ng  between  living  persons.”   The  subjects  are  ac=ng  as  if  it  is  all  a  game,  they  become  a  two-­‐ dimensional  statement  as  if  they  belong  in  a  pain=ng  rather  than   in  reality.  Ul=mately  they  have  been  instructed  to  act  unaware   and  natural.  The  subjects  are  provided  with  a  sense  of  truth  and   objec=vity  as  if  they  can  pretend  for  a  moment  that  these  are   their  perfect  lives.          

“So at  what  point,  and  why,  did  the  ‘unposed’   come  to  be  equated  with  ‘life.”  As  =mes   changed  and  the  model  life  became  desired   “the  reality  becomes  the  new  ideal.”  People   could  suddenly  pretend  that  they  lived  the   way  was  seen  fit  in  their  socie=es.    

Representa=on was  no  longer  transparent  to  the  thing   being  represented,  and  neither  was  the  human  eye.   What  was  seen  depended  on  who  the  viewer  was,   what  context  in  was  shown  in  and  the  cultural  beliefs   at  the  =me.   Two  possible  solu=ons  to  this;        Everything  that  was  being  represented  was  dependent   upon  the  viewer,  the  work  was  up  for  interpreta=on.  Is   there  ever  a  true  answer?   The  other  replace  the  eye  with  a  reliable  mechanical   subs=tute  (photography),  to  produce  none  subjec=ve   images  that  appear  to  let  us  see  without  being  seen.    

Around 1888  cameras  were  being  designed  to   look  like  watches,  books,  parcels,  cravats,   buKons,  purses,  hats,  revolvers  and  even   walking  s=cks!         They  could  take  up   the  6  pictures  at  one   =me!  

In 1890  Paul  Mar=n  photographed  ordinary   Bri=sh  people,  showing  incidents  such  as   carriage  accidents  or  arrests  as  they  happened   but  also  scenes  of  ordinary  people  enjoying   the  beach  at  Yarmouth  or  selling  goods  and   services  on  the  street.  This  was  the  start  of   street  photography!      

•  Permits were  soon  required  for  photography  in  public   places  like  parks,  with  “persons  and  groups  of  persons”   explicitly  excluded  as  poten=al  photographic  subjects.   At  least  one  photographer  was  prosecuted.   •  “It  turned  out  that  surveillance  was  the  preroga=ve  of   the  state,  not  the  individual.”   •  As  cameras  developed  it  bought  the  medium  into  the   hands  of  the  millions  and  it  recorded  those  things   thought  to  be  too  common  to  be  worth  photographing.   E.g  the  everyday,  the  banal  and  the  personal.          

Jacob Riis  and  Lewis  Hine  both  dedicated  in  their   different  ways  documenta=on  of  the  living  and   working  condi=ons  of  working  immigrants  in   New  York.  ‘Its  as  if  this  overt  acknowledgment   of  the  camera’s  temporary  presence  in  their   lives  will  in  some  way  compensate  for  its   intrusion.”      


Lewis Hine’s  portraits  of  immigrants  establishes   conven=ons  of  the  ‘ethical’  photograph,  there   is  no  trickery  and  no  one  has  been  taken   unawares  or  against  their  consent.     “Not  tricked  or  exploited”        

“The average  person  believes  implicitly  that  the   photograph  cannot  falsify.  Of  course,  you  and  I   know  that  this  unbounded  faith  in  the   integrity  of  the  photograph  is  oTen  rudely   shaken,  for,  while  photographs  may  not  lie,   liars  may  photograph.”  Photos  have  the  power   to  change  minds  and  opinions.  

Walker Evans  

Walker Evans  made  a  large  series  of  pictures   which  he  called  true  portraiture.  He  took   pictures  of  the  faces  sat  across  from  him  on   public  transport,  capturing  them  in  a  “special   state”  when  “the  guard  is  down  and  the  mask   is  off”.  One  recent  observer  of  these   photographs  claims  that  Evans  unconsciously   recorded  the  claustrophobia  and  anxiety  of  a   na=on  caught  between  the  depression  and   World  War  2.          

In 1946  Evans  stood  on  a  street  corner  with  a   camera  held  low  against  his  body,  so  that   passers  by  remained  unaware  that  he  was   taking  photos  of  them.  This  resulted  in  people   being  shown  in  mo=ons  from  side  on  and  the   waist  up,  some=mes  looking  directly  into  the   camera.    

This style  of  working  can  hardly  be  regarded   as  an  innocent  or  objec=ve  manner  in  a   context  where  industrial  labor  was  already   being  constantly  photographically  monitored   and  disciplined  in  the  work  place.          This  relates  back  to  the  ques=ons  about  is  this   morally  correct?      

The photographer  is  obsessed  by  the  unique   photograph  that  he  wants  to  obtain,  it  is  a  con=nual   baKle  against  prejudice  resul=ng  from  photographers   who  s=ll  work  with  flashes.            Against  the  administra=on  the  employers,  the  police,   the  security  guard,  against  poor  ligh=ng  and  the   enormous  problems  taking  photographs  of  people  in   mo=on.     The  photographer  will  do  anything  to  get  their  photo,   there  is  no  guilt.  They  are  always  ready  and  must   always  be  pa=ent.              

By the  1930’s  Salomon  tricks  his  subjects  to  secretly   take  their  photo  without  their  permission.     “We  shall  be  increasingly  interested  in  providing  a   truthful  record  of  objec=vity  determined  by  fact.   No  longer  concerned  with  avant-­‐garde   abstrac=on,  he  equates  ‘truth’  and  ‘fact’  with   ‘taking  rapid  shots  without  being    observed’”   -­‐This  is  the  new  truth  whether  or  not  it  is  indeed   fact.    

This obsession  photographers  had  for  finding  the  truth  meant   that  they  were  willing  to  push  boundaries  and  invade   people’s  personal  lives.   “I  believed  obsessionally  that  the  truth  would  be  revealed   only  when  people  were  not  aware  of  being  photographed.  I   had  to  be  invisible.  There  were  uncomfortable  elements  of   spying  in  all  this  and  the  press  was  oTen  hos=le.  We  were   called  spies,  prayers,  mass-­‐eavesdroppers,  nosey,  peeping   toms,  lopers,  snoopers,  envelop-­‐steamers,  keyhole  ar=sts,   sex  maniacs,  sissies,  society  playboys.”     They  found  this  invisibility  hard  to  achieve,  its  hard  to  hide   from  view.          

There was  then  a  mass  transforma=on  in  which   this  style  of  photography  was  then  adopted  by   the  state  in  which  spying  and  constant   surveillance  become  an  everyday  thing.    

Roberts Frank  sequence  of  photographs  of  him   spying  on  a  blind  couple  cuddling  in  New  York   central  park.  Frank  was  able  to  capture  the   unawareness  of  the  couple.  This  body  of  work   shows  that  the  images  wouldn’t  be  the  same  if   the  couple  knew  of  his  presence.     Again  another  example  of  this  style  of  work.  This   example  con=nues  with  Frank’s  series  ‘ The   Americans’    

Cindy Sherman’s  un=tled  film  s=lls  of  the  late  1970’s  was  again  reference  the   surveillance  theory,  cas=ng  doubt  on  the  very  photographic  truth  values   she  imitates  and  exploits.  In  each  of  her  photos  that  she  plays  as  the  role   herself,  she  is  towing  with  the  concepts  of  the  hidden  paparazzi.     She  oTen  hides  her  face  as  if  she  does  not  totally  want  us  to  associate  with   her  iden=ty.   In  her  later  body  of  work  she  is  playing  the  idea  of  the  vulnerable  women  in   which  an  unseen  aKacker  is  close  by  and  the  viewer  is  suggested  as  the   masculine  figure  (as  the  history  of  surveillance  photography  seams  to  be   dominated  by  the  male  parishioners)   Sherman  is  both  subject  and  object  of  the  camera,  therefore  the  surveyed  is   also  the  surveyor,  only  truth  being  revealed  is  the  truth  of  an  elaborate   fic=on.                                                        IT  IRONOC!      

Kohei Yoshiyuki     hKp:// design/23geT.html?pagewanted=all   Kohei  Yoshiyuki  goes  out  at  night  and  secretly   sneaks  up  on  his  subjects  and  watching  what   they  do  at  night  and  possibly  drunk.  Perfect   example  of  surveillance,  we  want  to  see  what   goes  on  in  private  even  though  we  shouldn’t.   Reminder  that  we  are  constantly  being   watched.    

In rela=on  to  modern  day  surveillance  is  all  around  us  it  is   part  of  our  everyday  lives.  We  can’t  live  with  it  yet  we   can’t  live  without  it.   The  TV  show  Big  Brother  is  a  prime  example  of  how   common  surveillance  is.  For  them  its  about  being  seen   and  captured  doing  everyday  things.  In  this  case  the   everyday  surveillance  creates  a  sense  of  fame!     hKp:// watch? v=UBwJbXWY_mg  

Alison Jackson  uses  celebrity  look-­‐a-­‐like  to   create  candid  paparazzi  style  photos  to  cause   commo=on  to  the  public  eye  and  portray   those  who  we  deed  as  respectul  in  situa=ons   that  would  in  real  life  never  occur.      

hKp://­‐on/tate-­‐modern/ exhibi=on/exposed

Guilty pleasures presentation (1)  

Guilty pleasures presentation, by Mel, Elsa and Ellie

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