Thursday, 20 November 2014

A slightly off the wall idea

I think I may accidentally have hit on an idea I connect with for Assignment 3 and this is going to be a bit of a rambling post as I try to work through my thought processes – but never mind.

In Berger’s words (Berger & Mohr, 1982)a photograph is weak in intentionality, they are not good at communicating meaning on their own and yet, as soon as they are combined with words they produce certainty. “The photograph, irrefutable as evidence but weak in meaning is given meaning by the words. And the words, which by themselves remain at the level of generalisation, are given specific authenticity by the irrefutability of the photograph.”

We can see this at work in some of the social documentary material earlier in the course – such as Survival programmes (Exit Photography Group, 1982) But what happens when the text and images are not formally related? Do we weaken the meaning? Remove the meaning? Or does the gap between the two open up the possibility of another meaning – or leave ground to consider how we construct meaning.

Broomberg and Chanarin’s War Primer 2 (Broomberg & Chanarin, 2011) – and the original Brecht which forms its basis – are examples of where the text and the images do not totally align – in this case increasing the impact of the work.

In the case of Wayne Daniel’s “Dr Walter Verbogden” (Daniel, 2013) the small amount of text accompanying the images is totally fabricated. The end result is a strange disjoint between something which we instinctively feel is a fabrication and pictorial evidence which is hard to deny.

So my intent with Assignment 3 is to use my much loved iron beach to explore some of these ideas, by aligning the objects found there with some of the world’s most evocative objects - the statues of Easter Island – through the use of captions excerpted from Thor Heyerdahl’s landmark book Aku-aku (Heyerdahl, 1958)

I’m not going to say anything about the story I’m required to tell at this juncture as I’d also be interested to hear any reaction I get – and perhaps get a handle on whether the author is really dead, as French philosophers appear to insist, or merely playing possum.


Berger, J. & Mohr, J., 1982. Another Way of Telling. 1 ed. New York: Pantheon Books.

Broomberg, A. & Chanarin, O., 2011. War Primer 2. Kindle ed. London: MACK.

Daniel, W., 2013. Dr Walter Verbogden. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed November 2014].

Exit Photography Group, 1982. Survival Programmes. 1 ed. Milton Keynes: Open University press.

Heyerdahl, T., 1958. Aku-Aku. American ed. New York: Rand McNally.

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