Saturday, November 17, 2007

New Objectivity

The question raised in my mind about documentary form is how a documentary depicts reality. How the different forms show different variations of truth. Observational documentary attempting to show something in its truest form whilst expository documentary has a strong bias and agenda a point of view presentd to the viewer. The question I have been researching is can any documentary or image show truth, a perfect depiction of reality. I have drawn my attention to an art movement called New Objectivity which arose in Germany in the early 1920s as an outgrowth of, and in opposition to, expressionism. From this art movement combined with advances in photographic techology came new objectivist photographers.

"'Deutsche Fotographische Austellung' in Frankfurt, all formulated the claims of the new aesthetic positivism. A similar perspective was evident in the new photographic literature: Werner Graff's 'Er Kommt der neue Fotograf!' (1929), Karl Blossfeldt's 'Urformen der Kunst' (1928), and of course Renger Patzch's 'Die Welt ist Schon'. These books and shows set out to establish a new truth relation between the new photographic technology and the everyday that exceeded both 'art' photography and previous reportial work. Photography's extended powers of realism were held to have inscribed themselves in the very texture of things, hence the repeated call to photographers to direct their attentions to the intricacies and secrets of nature. Indeed advances in technology were seen to confirm photography as a branch of the empirical sciences." (The art of interuption. Realism, photography and the everyday. John Roberts 1998)

Because of advances in photographic technology pioneered by Leica with the introduction of 35mm film and very sharp focus these photographers believed they could capture truth, "Indeed advances in technology were seen to confirm photography as a branch of the empirical sciences." They believed an image could depict a scene in complete accuracy.

In my opinion this is not true. There is no way an image can be objective, showing a truthful representation of reality. I appreciate that if you take images using using the optimum amount of focus and colour balance and do not crop an image ( something new objectivists never did) an image becomes as unbiased as possible. But i do not believe as new objectivists did that an image can show the truth. The lenghthy photographic process starting with choice of camera, film, aperture, processing and finally printing are all stages at which a photographer controls the capture of reality and chooses according to how they wish to portray the world. These are all subjective decisions. A photograph shows what the photograoher wanted to show.

I do not think many people still believe truth can be captured through any form of visual technology. With the increase in technology such as video I think it is becoming increasingly harder to be objective when capturing images. New technology gives people more and more opportunity to show their opinions through their work. Choices such as editing, photoshop, different ways of showing footage and images such as the internet all giving the creator more opportunities to add their own biases as much as they may think they are not. I believe every choice made by a photographer or film maker about the way the final image looks adds more of their own bias to it.


Post a Comment

<< Home