So today was the day…
I got my hands on the book I’ve dreamt about for a long time. No more will I have to look it images on-line. I got hold of the legend that is An Aperture Monograph by Diane Arbus, my first lady of photography. The minute I bought the book I thought I want to write about it. I want to understand it. So I started reading through the Severn or so pages put together from various Arbus interviews before her untimely death.
The front cover of the two twins is the story of the next 50 or so images. Life is the same thing but everything is different. We judge on the discrepancy rather than happiness. They transpose sadness into our own grief and our lack of understanding of the situation we structure around our opinions.
I don’t think you can say the book is to show anything specific as it was never put together by the artist. However you get a feel of image impact, isolation, turmoil and confrontation. Arbus captures eyes so well they haunt in every image. The much talked about boy in the park image taken in central park in 1970
Is one of my favourite images of all time. What i love more is this image captures the essence of the decisive moment invented by Henri Cartier-Bresson and the fine line of Stadium and Punctum devised by Roland Barthes
what he terms, the stadium and the punctum. The Studium refers to the range of meanings available and obvious to everyone; it is unary and coded, the former term implying that the image is a unified and self-contained whole whose meaning can be taken in at a glance (without effort, or ‘thinking’)
The Punctum is a detail or “partial object” that attracts and holds the viewer’s (the Spectator’s) gaze; it pricks or wounds the observer.
(Exerts from Roland Barthes Camera Lucida)
We see the stadium in the image of the alleged psychopath child, the posed image. The image without information has a second world war germanic feel to it again you are caught by the eyes. What really pull’s you in creating the Punctum of image is the grenade which sends a cold shudder down your spine.
This is also the decisive moment as described by Bresson
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression”.
This is shown by the selection of contact images from the central park image
Depicting the sweet child at play. I’m not sure what Arbus said to her subjects but her befriending of subjects resulting in lasting looks. I think in a time when it may have been frowned upon to capture transvestite, dwarfs and people with disability. Arbus skill to control the image and get the subject to pull the face we least expect. The down syndrome children laughing and joking. The cross dressing entertainer looking sad and troubled something people would never have seen and been challenged by.
The images that have had the most influence on my work are the empty spaces. loveless and striking
Maybe I see Arbus in the wrong way to me she is strength and reason to take on and photograph the mundane.
What do you think?
- Diane Arbus (wwuphoto.wordpress.com)
- 1972 Diane Arbus Documentary Interviews Those Who Knew American Photographer Best (openculture.com)
- A window to the soul? (philkneen.wordpress.com)
- inspiration: Diane Arbus and more… (redcheeksfactory.com)