One shift happening in how we understand photography within the image sphere of late modernity is the emerging recognition that the photographic image—and the image in general— is not an archetype and it is no longer something immobile like a Platonic Form. The image is not outside history and independent, or floating above its context as held by the modernist formalism of Clement Greenberg. The mythical fixity of the image has been broken.
As Giorgio Agamben notes, in sympathy with Gilles Deleuze, the image is mobile: it is an image-movement in the sense that the image is charged with a dynamic tension; a dynamic tension that embodies the movement of history. Our historical experience is obtained by photographic images and photographic images are expressions of our lived history. The image is a still from history and it enters into a constellation with other images.
A corresponding shift is the rupture away from the traditional conception of expression assumed in communication in which all expression is realised by a medium—an image or a word or colour—in which the medium disappears in the fully realised expression. The medium is no longer perceived as such–we no longer notice the medium as it disappears in that which it gives us to see. The expression shines forth.
The shift away from this conception is towards a realisation that the image as medium does not disappear into what it makes visible. The image is seen as an image rather than disappearing; or being utterly dependent on the particularity of its context. The image is a kind of force field that holds together opposing forces.
There is a need to interrupt or bring to a stop the stream or flux of images in our culture from the culture industry, advertising, pornography, and social media; a stop in the sense of pulling out of the flux to exhibit it as such. A top that pulls it away from the narrative power of photojournalism. This implies a break boundary between real and imagined words; between the worlds in which we live, move and breath and the ones that we invent. Photography as poetics aims to free the image from its frozen state and to transform it back into movement. It would stop the images to allow us to think the image as such, so as to reveal the potential of the image, and release what has been frozen in the image.
Photography not only creates new images; it also decreases or resists what exists the world of images to create something new. In contrast, advertising and pornography draw on this insight into the image to lead us back into further images instead of decreating/resisting the image as such.
Poiesis is a making or bringing forth through the imposing of shape or form that takes place in language and it is opposed to techne or technology. The aim of a poetics photographic practice is to suspend our relation to communication all the better to reveal communicability as such.
The problem for me is that I am not sure how this can be done.