Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Perception, Lies and Reality: Conclusion

Jun 09, 2017 - Jennifer Niederhauser Schlup

[…] Through all the works presented here, something becomes very clear: the idea that photography accounts for an all encompassing and neutral vision, a mirror of reality and a medium that never lies – free from human subjectivity – is no longer at the center of the medium. Rather, photographers are utilizing the essential components of photography (optics and light sensitive materials, digital or analogue) to investigate new ways of creating images. More often than not, these are constructions of the mind; images well thought out, researched and built to represent as faithfully as possible the idea in the photographer’s mind, and the message or sensation he aims to convey. Photography has here merged with the other visual arts that were at all times seen as inherently infused with the artist’s hand. The epoch when photography was seen as a device enabling pure mechanical reproduction, one that was able to capture the essence of the things and people it depicted by means of a direct and physical trace between the object or person and the resulting image seems past. We must also not forget that images generating a controversy regarding their veracity (such as Robert Capa’s «Death of a Loyalist Soldier, 1936») or clearly manipulated (as for example the photograph by I.P. Goldstein of Lenine addressing soldiers on may 5th 1920, where the figures of Trotsky and Lev Kamenev have been removed in an attempt to rewrite history) have appeared throughout the history of photography; years before the development of digital photography and more recent scandals in the news. However, we have been in the state of mind of believing photographic images for such a long time, that it is hard to start distrusting these images constantly. Our reflex, when first seeing a photograph, remains to believe what we see. It is this that enables photographers to play with our understanding of images: it is a play with our beliefs, which are still deeply anchored in us, and an echo to the thousands of images we have stored in our heads. I would like to conclude with a quote from Reinhard Spieler, which I believe gives a good ending and conclusion to this research: «there is not the truth of one reality by which one might then even deduce that another, different perception is not true. The notion of reality itself can only be used in the plural. That is where the reality of the images lies; only if one believes in the truth of one reality one can talk of «lies»L. Thus true lies is the befitting expression for a contemporary perception of reality that cannot be limited to one single perspective any longer».35


L – Lie: to mislead, untrue | to play wit the spectator | intentionally false
35 – p.13 SPIELER, Reinhard, Nolte Gertrud. True lies: Lügen und andere Wahrheiten in der zeitgenössischen Fotografie = lies and other truths in contemporary photography. Katalog zur Ausstellung Museum Franz Gertsch, Burgdorf, 18.01.-28.03.2004. Bern: Atelier Verlag, 2004