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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

We are all Prostitutes

Five Kinds of Bad, but for what I can't recall

The previous post gathered lots of responses for which there are no easy answers. One poster asked about any academic papers/research into some of the issues posted.

So does anyone know of any research into how we view pictures (either analogue or digital). I know Modern Painters touched on Semir Zeki's research on responses to beauty 'in the medial orbito-frontal cortex' to beauty in the February 2009 issue but I think there must be academic research into how we look at different kinds of pictures, both on paper/canvas and on the screen.

I would also imagine there is extensive research done on the way words, text and image interact with each other. Certainly, great attention is paid to the exact wording that accompanies particular images both on screen and in newspapers. I love the way stock images are used repeatedly on television (over a period of years) and how they make us remember/forget, the lag/dissonance between word and image leaving some half-baked recollection in our brain (as in the pictures above). At various times, the BBC (just to take one example) lays down specific guidelines for its journalists on what language to use in particular circumstances and so to accompany particular images. This has a huge effect on how we view people from particular places. But this should come as no surprise - photography has served capitalism, communism, fascism and consumerism well over the years, playing a major part in making us vainer, greedier, dumber, fatter, thinner and altogether more lustful, selfish and short-sighted. We always talk about the concerned photographer, and mock him or her, but what about the bastard photographers who do help neuroticise women, who do help distort the way we see and experience the world. It's not just Leni and anyway, she had a mortgage to pay as well. I vas only obeying orders, don't ve all? Is it all just propaganda, as Martin Parr would have us believe?

Oh dear, I'm away with the fairies on this one...

So if anyone can point us into any research, aesthetic, pychological or neurological, it would be most welcome.


Andrew Bruce said...

I don't know about the psychological or neurological... but this kind of talk gets me thinking about the anthropological criminology photography of guys like Alphonse Bertillon, also 'the new face of america' issue of Time magazine where they created the perfect face of America. I seem to remember Idris Khan took on his layering technique to make images of celebrity males and females and i even think I remember seeing the same technique applied to playboy covers- all you saw was this strange 'blob' of what all these attractive people's average was.

colin pantall said...

Good call, that ties in with it all, but I don't quite know how - it's related though. I don't think anyone quite knows how it all works or why it does.

Thought for the day = Nobody knows Nothing.