Say Cheese!

Marey's photo gun

Marey's photo gun


Images belong to individuals and at the same time allow individuals to participate, through mass possession, in a shared cultural experience. As Sontag describes, an image, is not merely a copy of a thing nor an illusion or shadow of the real, but a residue of the energy it emanated at the moment it was photographed. The photograph is more than a resemblance of what it represents, it is a physical manifestation of a subjects energy. In it’s photographic capture, an image maintains some of the meaning and value of the thing it represents. In possessing a photographic document you posses in some part, what the photo represents. This concept of photography as a means of possession, is no more clearly depicted than in the original manner in which movement was initially captured on film. There is no shortage of significance to the fact that the earliest experiments in capturing movement on film used the technical mechanism of a gun to move the film through the camera, allowing the photographer to literally shoot the subject onto the negatives.

“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”(DeBord p.4)

As a culture becomes more dependent upon creating and consuming images, the spectacle arises as the dominant mode for communicating all experience. In such a heavily mediated environment, any experience, to be relevant for social discourse, must be documented to the point of becoming a spectacle. Here, each individual must continually be in the process of creating spectacle of their own lives, through image documentation, in order to make their lives a worthy point of intersection for social relations. Such self documentation serves a dual purpose, as Sontag no doubt referencing the panopticon, describes; cameras create a spectacle for the masses and a surveillance for the rulers (Sontag p.178). As individuals strive to create mass spectacles from their lives, they are taking possession of their identities yet at the same time, present them within the public sphere, opening their personal lives to the observation, dissection and judgment of those seeking to maintain cultural control.

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3 Responses to “Say Cheese!”

  1. katherineer Says:

    I definitely agree with you that that individuals strive to create mass spectactles from their lives. While doing so they incorporate culture, and audience to share it with and images. In essence all corressponding together.

  2. christinatx Says:

    I too agree that within our society, the spectacle has become driving force in our means of communication and shared information. I think that due to the progression of the internet and other mediums, we make spectacles of ourselves (good and bad).

  3. It’s very interesting how you talk about individuals creating images and forming a spectacle in their own lives. I think, if we look at media today, they are constantly trying to create a spectacle in the public sphere and try to mould our thoughts in one way or other. But also if we look at the bigger picture it is only through media, that we are able to be connected to the world. Hence I would conclude by saying that a spectacle is for sure a worthy point of intersection for social bonding.

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