Monday, March 30, 2009

labeling the door

So - I was talking to Nina about her interesting final project, which will involve thinking, quite directly, about the relationship between writing and photography - and we were discussing the difference that might be made about giving different labels to the same image (not at all the same kind of provocation as throwing the onus of interpretation onto the viewer by calling one's image Untitled # 113, but a provocation, all the same).

The front door here at 113 is quite disorienting enough when seen in triplicate, since it seems to be tilting in various directions at once.   But then given three alternative do they play against each other?   Actually, it's not easy to come up with three feasible captions.   I was cheerfully hypothesizing away to Nina about how one could give different (false) titles to the abandoned house that she passes on her way home - like "abandoned" - no problem - or "my grandfather's house" - a fiction, but who would care?   Or - more to the point - what viewer of the picture, knowing neither Nina's family not the house, would care?   But could I label my own house "my grandmother's home"?   No way, it would seem.   Nor could I bring myself to employ some emotionally untrue term - "unhappiness" or "trouble" or...   Would I have had the same response to a picture that I'd drawn?   I doubt it, very much.   Which goes to prove (perhaps to my own disappointment), my internalized commitment to the evidentiary status of the photographic image.

Thus, "front door" is not much up for debate.   "Invitation" is mildly double-edged - I guess we could use it on - yes - an invitation?   And it's also suggesting that it's a hospitable house.   Yet an open front door could also be said to be an invitation to burglars.   And "at the end of the passage" is a rather feeble homage to Kipling's short story about photography and pictures on a dead man's eye - hope there isn't one of those at the end of the passage... what is actually there is a reflecting mirror, not a shiny retina.   I think I'll need to try this again at some point - and choose something (as Nina's house is to her) that's more of an initial enigma to start with.

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