photography as participation

My colleague Clive Barnett has blogged about his selfless and entirely acadmically-motivated mission to observe the Olympic torch being carried at the end of his street.  As always there’s a nice picture on his post (I didn’t quite get the relation between ‘justice unbound’ and fairy cakes in the previous one, though, Clive) – a photo which suggests that the torch is a very effective photograph-generating machine since almost everyone in Clive’s photo is taking a photograph of it.  To participate in the event of the torch’s passing is to photograph, it seems, so that by photographing participation is enacted.  What else might be enacted in that participation, though, apart from participation itself, participation as witnessing?  I’m not sure what it is that using a camera is creating here – I guess for that I’ll have to wait until the torch passes the end of our street (well, the end of the street off of our street) and venture forth myself.

3 thoughts on “photography as participation

  1. Hi Gillian
    First of all, they are NOT fairy cakes, they are crispy cakes, not the same thing at all.
    Second, I can’t remember what the connection with the photo was meant to be, but the post is sort of about things which are of value – i.e. crispy cakes, obvious.
    Thrid, I also think the thing about the taking of photos of the ‘event’ is also related to instant sharing – sending the picture to other people, right away, to say not only ‘I’m here’, but in this case, ‘here it comes’. So, taking the photo is an occassion for creating, for oneself, an event of sharing around an organised event, or something.

    • I like the connection you make to photography as an act of sharing rather than – or perhaps, better, as well as – an act of visualising. I think a lot of shared images are absolutely about the social positions and relations performed through sharing a photo. Which has interesting implications for the photo itself, because it both matters to the sharing (it has to picture certain things) and doesn’t (because the positions and relations have very little to do with what is pictured).

      As for confusing cupcakes with crispy cakes, what can I do but apologise for seeing the sort of cake I value most highly rather than the sort you do…. at least it’s a bit more evidence for my insistence that photographs are not always given lots of careful attention…

  2. Hi Prof. Rose,
    This was such a timely post for me, as I am trying to position the camera as active participation outside of the more imperialist mode argued by Sontag. I always enjoy your affirmative perspective on the use of photography.
    Thank you!

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