Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Mystery of the Visible


Hellebores, Polaroid Photograph, J Bowring, September 2008

The mysteries of the world continue in their gorgeous beauty. Imagery condensing upon a surface, the dark magic of the camera obscura, the remarkable late flowerings of the cremated remains of the insane ... and, now, Polaroid photography. Walter Benjamin warned of the loss of aura in the age of mechanical reproduction, and the Polaroid photograph bypasses this. It is a true original, aura inheres in here, in the photographic surface. The image emerges from nothing, slowly forming upon the surface, first ghostly, then darkening. Bedazzling ...

"Things are never what they appear to be." Abelardo Morell



4 comments:

antonia said...

the mystery of the visible:

“Often he could not have described exactly what he saw, heard, and felt, but he knew what it was. It could be very blurred; the visions came from outside, but a shimmer of observation told him at the same time that they were really something inside himself. The important thing was that it is not at all important whether something is inside or outside; in his condition, it was like clear water on both sides of a transparent sheet of glass.”

Musil

(i love Hellebores)

jacky bowring said...

Thanks Antonia, the Musil piece has a wonderful parallel with Benjamin's aura, when he described the process of seeing the branch and the mountain in the distance. (Is the quote from The Man Without Qualities?). Also an interesting echo with another quote that comes to mind is from the glorious book, Istanbul, by Orhan Pamuk, where he is describing the Turkish sense of melancholy, huzun, and says, "Offering no clarity; veiling reality instead, huzun brings us comfort, softening the view like the condensation on a window when a tea-kettle has been spouting steam on a winter day."
...j...

Antonia said...

oh i forgot, the quote is from "Man without Qualities". the shimmer in the Musil one made me associate the aura. shimmer, echo, aura, and now the steam of a kettle. atmospheric appearances. i thought i need to look up the etymology for that, but free associating yields this: ἀτμίς - scent & steam & vapor and σφαῖρα, globe and orbit....i like this rather almost sensual connection to steam and vapour and scent in the atmosphere. now if the aura has this too, as if one almost could smell it, aura like tea...not only visual, but rather olfactory... echo is a good one too, and this adds hearing...
no i don't know the Pamuk, but will look out for it.

jacky bowring said...

The mutli-sensate possibilities of aura are enticing ... particularly given the general impoverishment of language to express these things, so bound are we by the visual. Will think further on that!