Barthes photographic paradox thesis

Merriam-Webster defines nostalgia as a combination of the Greek root nostos meaning "return home" and the Old English genesan meaning "to survive." In my body of work Poltergeist I explore the often sentimentalized and disregarded significance of this experience. In exploring aspects of childhood, memory, and nostalgia I hope to address nostalgia's disruptive effects on linear time and to propose that this phenomenon might be considered under the rubric of an archetypically feminine sublime, as an underestimated strategy for finding meaning in the face of loss and death. For example when a person is having an acute experience of nostalgia, time collapses and the past, the present and the future become one. A nostalgic moment for me might be triggered by a memory of walking through the forest behind my house when I was five but that memory then triggers others, dancing to Boys Don't Cry while drinking black label beer at the Liberty Park, cutting lavender for the dinner table yesterday afternoon and ultimately a sense of the loss of experiences I have yet to have. Time becomes nonlinear and it's both sad and sweet at the same time. Nostalgia somehow enables us to sing along to the tune of our own deaths.

In this work I'm also concerned with the connections and distance between the theoretical and the physical. Inspired by Barthes premise in Pleasure of the Text that "Whence, perhaps, a means of evaluating the works of our modernity: their value would proceed from their duplicity. By which it must be understood that they always have two edges. The subversive edge may seem privileged because it is the edge of violence; but it is not violence which affects pleasure, nor is it destruction which interests it; what pleasure wants is the site of loss, the seam, the cut, the deflation, the dissolve which seizes the subject in the midst of bliss." I am creating works that seek out the seam between ideas and their performance. In specific, theoretical notions of nostalgia, time, and the sublime are considered through physical acts of making paintings, installations, sculptures and films creating documents of these connections and distances. The works of art become artifacts of ideas being processed through experiences and the inevitable distortion that occurs between these ideas and their practice.

Practically speaking, I circumscribe "the midst of bliss" by choosing signs, materials and techniques that give forms to the premise. One notion I am interested in is landscape. The sign I have chosen to represent this with is the tree. Perspectives on nature, wildness and space are examined by animating the tree in various media and interpretive techniques including monumental gestural painting, documentary film footage and life size sculptural construction. The content also unfolds through investment in metaphoric materials. My interest in the nostalgia's transgressive effect on linear time is expressed through the juxtaposition of materials that connote particular and disparate time periods and cultural pedigrees. These materials include, oil paint on canvas, bronze, copper, shag carpet, acrylic paint on drywall, velvet, glass, Windex, etc. The amalgam of these textures allows me to embody my ideas about time without reducing them to a didactic argument. The resonance is one faceted with the familiarity of the body and the fiction of the mind. Marguerite Duras describes these phenomena as "Dreams of another time when the same thing that is going to happen would happen differently. In another way. A thousand times. Everywhere. Elsewhere. Among others, thousands of others who, like ourselves, dream of this time, necessarily. This dream contaminates me."

Contemporary photography then is a difficult term to define. It does not permanently adhere as a label on any one image. It is a concept that changes as time periods change and move forward. It is a general expression for what the viewer can relate to and appreciate at that moment in time. It may be applied to a group of images created by a group of photographers working during a similar period of time with similar, or dissimilar, motivations, style or influences. Today’s contemporary photography inherits attributes from what was “contemporary” in prior periods, or it can break completely from the past creating a new road for others to follow. The study of prior periods is important because it creates a history, or marker, for new work to move beyond and create new paths as photography evolves. Whether it rises to a level to be referred to as contemporary art photography is both an individual and a collective agreement for appreciation of that style of work. 28 Regardless, any style of “photography”, whether a snapshot or purposeful creative expression, becomes, at this moment in time, “contemporary photography”.

Barthes photographic paradox thesis

barthes photographic paradox thesis


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