Saturday, November 7, 2009


Here it is! The perfect illustration for Kathleen Stewart's couple of paragraphs on "Traces:"
People are collecting found objects snatched off the literal or metaphorical side of the road. Things that have dropped out of the loop or have been left sagging somewhere are dragged home as if they are the literal residues of past dreaming practices.
The snatching practice mixes a longing for a real world (or something) with the consumer's little dream of spying a gem or tripping over a bargain. And in the mix, all kinds of other things are happening too. (Ordinary Affects, p.21)
I haven't any desire to snatch this armchair off S. First - quite apart from being even more dilapidated than some of our own that haunt various corner of the house, it looks very happy sitting on its tree trunk throne, await some unguessable occupancy. What it does exemplify to the full is the hunter/gatherer aspect of taking photographs: never quite knowing what dreaming practices are going to be set in train by the image, rather than the object itself.

I say in the sidebar to this blog that it began life when I was thinking about writing a book - a very general book - about writing and photography: a project that morphed into my current work on flash photography and startling interruptions of light more generally. I'm very glad of this shift - I've been reading a new book by Francois Brunet called Photography and Literature (in Reaktion's excellent "Exposures" series) - wide-ranging, if somewhat disjointed in its argument, so far - and it covers almost exactly the ground that I was planning on tackling myself. If I hadn't shifted my ideas, and become interested in a side alley of the original project, I'd be rolling on the floor and howling. As it is, I'm very impressed by how much ground he's covering in a very economical way - I was coming to the conclusion that it was an unmanageably sprawling topic. His chapter on staged photographs, "The Literature of Photography," takes one back to today's image: though far from staged, there's surely a narrative waiting to emerge from it - or at least a Ionesco play.

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