Charlotte Cotton Reading

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As part of a seminar that Kristianne Drake and Mandy Jandrell put together, we were given the task of reading extracts from the Charlotte Cotton book “The Photograph As Contemporary Art”, this is a fascinating book which goes to tell the narratives, hidden meanings and a general back story to each image. As well as some very interesting pieces about the nature of photography itself.
My extract was on Tableau Photography, this is the hinted and often obvious use of narrative from fables, fairy tales, apocryphal events and myths that will play to our consciousness of each image. This method of bringing a narrative to images is absolutely vital,  and no image can be held seriously without meaning, whether it references to old fables or not.

Jeff Wall, Passerby 1996 

The stand out piece for me was Jeff Walls, Passerby. This image is made to explain the nature of urban living and the physical dangers they pose with the threat of strangers. Walls images would always be presented in catastrophic scale, as to assert their dominance over the viewer. This gives an image like this one a sense of purpose and intellect without it actually being much of a technically great photograph.
From viewing this image one is subjected to the uncomfortable reality of playing voyeur, this gives us a rare opportunity to this event. From merely viewing this one frame we are lead into a minefield of questions about what was going on, who are they, why is the lead character looking over his shoulder etc.
This coupled with the very overpowering use of a flash to draw every spec of contrast into full bloom in this image makes it look like a shot from a police tape. 

This book is absolutely fascinating, a must have for anyone studying Photography in further education. If not it's a good read for anyone seriously interested in what photographs can stand for and mean in this twenty-first century world where we're surrounded by trillions of images. 

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