Informing Contexts - Skimming the surface of dissemination
A really diverse subject but to skim the surface.
Looking at the ways that we disseminate photographs today is a bit of minefield. I feel after looking at various practices that it all comes down to the individual preferences, styles and desires. Often with restrictions in place. I copyright my images as a matter of course. I may say that certain images I put on a webpage are only allowed to be shared in a certain way or to a certain place.
I may say that each image needs a specific title each use should be accompanied by the named credit line as noted below the picture: e.g The way it was © Gail Timms or commercial use is prohibited without the express written consent of the concerned parties.
It is usual these days to look back at the invention of photography in the mid-19th century as a welcome event in technological progress that enabled an exciting new form of representation: a moment captured and represented as fact. But as Geoffrey Batchen points out in his latest book, the catalogue to a recent exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, photographs were seen by many as a pale substitute for a painting: as mere testimony, a photo could never pack the interpretive or emotional punch that, say, a painting could. Hence the mid-19th- and early-20th-century practice of embellishing photographs with writing and objects to lend the mechanical image a resonance and meaning that it otherwise lacked.
Batchen’s lively and insightful discussion focuses on portraiture, ranging from the genre of photos of people looking at photos to that of fotoescultura, a Mexican and Mexican American tradition in which photographic images are carved into wooden reliefs. By adding layers of reference and tactility, the image’s modification gives the subject an immediate presence. Observing that this link is most poignant in the case of memorialization, Batchen mines the significance of the objects often added to images behind glass—particularly locks of hair, biblical harbingers of reunion in the afterlife that serve as the most direct and uncanny means of evoking the deceased’s presence, and intricately embroidered mats, suggestive of long hours of sad toil that mutely express the enduring act of remembrance, linking subject and viewer across time as well as space. Batchen mines the significance of the objects often added to images behind glass—particularly locks of hair, biblical harbingers of reunion in the afterlife that serve as the most direct and uncanny means of evoking the deceased’s presence, and intricately embroidered mats, suggestive of long hours of sad toil that mutely express the enduring act of remembrance, linking subject and viewer across time as well as space. Drawing out the complexities of what is essentially an obsolete folk practice, Batchen borrows Barthes to argue that the addition of a “talismanic piece of the body” to a photograph transforms it from the studium of mere resemblance to the punctum of the “subject-as-ghost,” adding “sympathetic magic to the photograph.” Given the strength of his argument, his call for a new art-historical narrative that includes and accounts for these vernacular objects seems long overdue. Derrida has demonstrated, dissemination is a dynamic that simultaneously circumscribes and dissipates; it enacts “an erasure which allows what it obliterates to be read,” “making possible the very thing that it makes impossible.”
My own practice has been mostly about what the clients want. An album, then what style and design etc, prints, mounted, framed again design. I also have sold photographs on to wood and acrylic. They all are physical things, but the images will when shared as digital, go on to social media in whatever format the person chooses. I use website, Instagram and Facebook. I have just started to look at the platform for print sales but haven’t decided where yet. I intend to have an exhibition, and so a lot of planning and design for my first one will need to occur, I will no doubt be asking how people receive my images, will people have a new meaning for the images when seen in a gallery setting or is it the subject matter that influences? Derrida 2012: P6. dissemination allows for an examination of a diverse array of photographic practices without dislodging us from the context of consumer capitalism and its processes of mass production in which those practices have taken place. It allows us to question what photography is even while investigating what photographs do and what is done to them. It allows us to pursue a history for photography from the inside out, unconstrained by the limited interests of art history or by value judgments based on innovation or originality.
The best outlets for your photo-essay are often organisations interested in the topic you are photographing, the geography, the community or hobbies that you are exploring and not just interested in photography but in the subject matter.
In fact, I am seeing that limiting yourself to photo-specific audiences usually means missed opportunities. Photography is such a universal and compelling way to tell stories, so I personally needed to think more broadly and find potential partners based on the subject matter, a route that has the potential to open up a world of opportunities if I can get it right!
BATCHEN, G., & LEVINSON, N. (2004). Forget me not: photography & remembrance. New York, Princeton Architectural Press.
LEWIS, M. (2012). Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. http://universitypublishingonline.org/edinburgh/ebook.jsf?bid=CBO9780748636044.