Morning routines and train of thought

Most weekday mornings my work routine is pretty much the same. The first thing I do is spend an hour going through my emails. Nowadays a number of these involve reading posts from other MA students – so here is a typical morning’s view.


What I like about this activity is that it takes me to related but different areas of artistic interest and complements what I have been thinking about and or working on. My thoughts will have focussed on my work, but reading colleague’s posts often pushes me into other areas and can be very stimulating. For example, today I read and then thought about the following:

  • Kammilam’s work with still images and slow shutter release – here – offering the sense of stillness and movement – this got me thinking about where I might use this approach
  • charlesharropgriffiths tutorial and the linking of his work with the constructivists and the mixing of the physical and digital in work and then reading his review of Lexicons of Interactive Art and Architecture and a post on how we all travel through internet pages

One single post of Charles really got me thinking was here. Imagery of trauma has always been controversial and often attacked whether it’s because we see but are powerless to do anything (think Sontag) or because of the beautification of horror reduces it’s authenticity(think of some of the attacks on Serrano’s work) is debatable. But for me much about these questions were addressed by Susie Linfield in the The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence (2010).

Linfield asks “what kinds of responsibility, if any, do we assume in viewing them [trauma photos]?” p67 Photos of terror/death/horror are mutable though – trophies or evidence/shame or pride in their taking. Rejectionists – argue that in viewing them we become complicit with the photographer and Transcendentalists argue that moral elevation comes by looking.

But both positions seem to miss the point that such photos only reveal values when viewed against context. We always judge the photo within the context it is presented in. We all know meaning is mutable and so the same photos can offer a sense of the real and deepen our understanding of it or obscure and transform the viewing experience into something wholly other. So the same photo can be used to entertain, satisfy an emotional or physiological need, offer a therapeutic benefit or oppress. It’s all about context. Thus for example, my home made symbol – see here – can offer any one of those senses depending on how, where and where it is displayed.

Now I probably wouldn’t have thought about these issues today if I hadn’t read my Charles Harrop-Griffiths’ post.


S. Linfield, The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, published by University of Chicago Press, 2010


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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