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Structuralism & Photography

  • Oct. 2, 2018

I seek to paint my photos, not to create imaginary scenes, but to paint in a way that the original is not lost, yet nevertheless, changed. The idea is to enable the discovery of the story, stories, hidden within the photo.

There is a field in art & literature called Structuralism (not to be confused with the term “structure” as used in giving clarity to a photograph). Structuralism in photography discards the idea that photographs are a direct representation of the world and replaces it with the idea that each photograph has its own morphology,* a morphology that intervenes between reality and the viewer. In photography, structure (as used in the processing of an image) can change the level of intervention, and thus change the viewer’s perception of reality.

For example, look at these two images created from the same RAW image. Each creates in the viewer’s mind a different perception or reality, a perception that will differ with each viewer. When you look at each image – think beyond the literal – what are your emotions? What are your thoughts about what’s going on?

blue-white buildingdark blue-white building

Now look at the original image. What changes about how you view the image? How does your thinking about the previous images change?

original image of building

These images are exaggerated, but suppose the structure was subtle and not overly obvious to the naked eye. Can you see how that could change your perception of reality without you being aware of the change? Would this not, perhaps, make you think about the subject of the photo in a new way, just as the exaggerated ones do?

* the study of the form of things, the form which creates the perception.

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  • Philosophy of Photography