Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spectral Evidence

Part of the research I am doing in regards to my recent photographic work has been reading up on apparitional experience, ghosts, hauntings and the like. Apparitional experience is, to quote Wikipedia, "an anomalous, quasi-perceptual experience. It is characterized by the apparent perception of either a living being or an inanimate object without there being any material stimulus for such a perception." It is the term that the academic and scientist community sometimes use to describe ghosts or hauntings. 

I'm trying to wrap my head around this concept and to understand what actually prompts the "quasi-perceptual experience."  Where does this sensation or feeling about place or a space that it is inhabited by unexplained entities; things that are not of this world, come from?

I have a strong sense of what the generative force is and I have been jotting down summaries and notes from my reading materials so at some point can pull it all together in some cohesive manner.

These are some of my notes from one of the first texts I read, appropriately entitled: Spectral Evidence. 

In his book, Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma, Ulrich Baer explores the relationship between the experience of trauma and the photographic image. Baer draws a connection between those moments captured mechanically in photographs and those experienced by the individual through trauma. He uses the Holocaust as a specific example of how extremely difficult and limited it is to represent such monumental trauma. Baer suggests that the photographs become more of a tool of witnessing than that of “viewing”. What resonates for me is Baer’s connection to Roland Barthes, which implies for the viewer there is a response that is prompted by the ghostly afterlife of every photograph's subject.

L Reynolds copyright 2012
Chapter 2
To give memory place

“The aura of the photographed landscape, the impression of proximity, familiarity and relevance in a possibility quite distant scene seems to trip into memory we did not know existed, a counterpart in ourselves we may have felt but did not know.” (79)

“Conceptually and visually, we are subjected to something we recognize as crucially important, though in the end it eludes us.” (79)
L Reynolds copyright 2011
“The tradition of landscape art likewise…imbuing a scene with auratic significance…without… linking this sense of familiarity to any remembered past “ (79)

“framed emptiness” (81)

“Second generations inherit from their predecessors not something that has been learned but something that remains a loss.” (84)

“The medium of photography always raises the question of the relationship between seeing and knowing.” (87)

Quoting Walter Benjamin: “optical unconscious”

From Conclusion:
“…some events attain full meaning only in retrospect or to use the Freudian term, nachtraglich, or belatedly, and how this belated registration may facilitate or block remembering or forgetting.” (181)

“Every photograph is addressed to a beyond that remains undefined.” (181)
L Reynolds copyright 2011

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