I attended a Study Hangout on 21st February 2019 with some of my fellow students specifically about Vilém Flusser’s (1983) book: Towards a Philosophy of Photography. I found I came away with lots of thoughts and inspirations. In the study hangout we quickly identified that the distinction between redundant and informative images was one of the key parts to Flusser’s philosophy.
We talked and asked questions about whether a photograph or set of photographs could ever be truly non-redundant. One aspect a photograph should possess to be informative we agreed upon was that it should be experimental. Also some of us suggested ways of being experimental with photography like intervening with the camera apparatus in some way, to break out of the cycle of redundancy. One fellow student referenced the work of Stephen Gill for experimental photography that perhaps broke out of the system of redundant images created by camera apparatus. I would agree that by intervening with the camera before the picture is taken (by placing insects and flowers inside the camera apparatus) does break this cycle.
Before looking at Stephen Gill’s work I had only seen images that were made up of information entirely processed by the camera apparatus ( apart from maybe photograms). That thought did get me thinking: if everything that comes out of a camera is written by that camera’s apparatus (however simple or complicated it may be), then does that mean they are all redundant images? By intervening with the apparatus before the image is taken an experimental image is formed that I feel might also be informative. Going further with this thought, if the image is conceptual; perhaps the photographer constructed parts of the image in their head or physically prior to taking the image, they are then experimenting with its appearance causally. This gave me hope that if I was indeed creating a ‘redundant’ image every time I photographed, I could break this cycle of redundant images by creating images that weren’t entirely made by the camera.
Fig. 1 Gill, S. (2010) Outside In. [Photograph] At: https://themorningnews.org/gallery/the-world-inside-a-camera (Accessed 23/02/2019).
Flusser, V. (1983/2014) Towards a Philosophy of Photography. 3rd ed. London: Reaktion Books.