Looking at photographs

Looking at photographs, we easily could get the impression that they tell us stories. Stories about life and death, stories about little moments and big events. We virtually travel to different continents, look in the eyes of strangers, see catastrophes and poverty; we see the unknown and the illusionary. But all we see are surfaces. The stories told are told us by our inner voice. Photographs are magic surfaces that evoke our memories and emotions.

We look. And then we look away. There are strict rules at what we may look and for how long. Photographs fulfill our need to follow up our curiosity without being restricted by societies unwritten laws.

We see faces, we see eyes, we see private places. We look and see without the necessity of contact. We experience the illusion of intimacy. Photographs allow us to see everything we want to see, without taking any risks.

Many times we use photographs to depict the world as a curiosity cabinet, populated by humans whom we believe to be different from us and we call them freaks. Look at the fat one, look at the sick one, look at the poor one, but we are different, yes we are different.

Reflected in the clouded window we see what we have learned to see.

Photographs don´t tell the truth. Photographs don´t give us any worthwhile information. Photographs are nothing but empty reproductions: they show us the surface of reality in bits and pieces.

So we might as well throw away the burden of trying to copy reality. And we could get rid of the illusion that photographs exist without words. And we could leave behind the ideas of objectivity and truth, and now, now we might be free to use photography in any way that we can imagine. (Even for information.)

Now we could go out take photographs as children set out to make a drawing.
The horse has six legs and the man a huge head and no arms.
But we are grown up now; conventions and knowledge limit our imagination and all we do is to reproduce what has been reproduced already countless times.

And we might become photojournalists, and borrow the conventions and visual patterns of the genre. Or we become commercial photographers; just to deliver that what is expected and already known.

Or we could set out to find our voice, to find out about the world and to find out about ourselves. All of this is already there, hidden somewhere.