I subscribe to a blog by my friend Derrick Knight, who plots daily life and never misses a day or a detail and it is fascinating – link below.
Recently Derrick posted a scan of an image of a wedding party taken in the 1920’s. He posted in such high resolution that I was able to copy it and make some ‘sub portraits’.
There is so much to be excited about here. Looking into the faces of those who have gone before is gives us a thrill that humans have only just been afforded. We can look at a great painted portrait and, as great a work of art as it may be, we are still looking at painted strokes. Whereas a photograph is a passive, objective record (obviously the is highly disputed by Barthes et al).
But lets say that a picture of a wedding group is about as objective as a photograph can get. Its intention being to record a group of people all together at one time – the camera here is a merely a recording device – not an interpreting device. One could argue that any other intentionality that could be attributed to the photographer, camera, or image is excluded by the intention – ergo the intention to record the group objectively and for posterity.
So, assuming that you agree with me – look into these faces from the recent past and marvel at how time just seems to melt as, simultaneously, we look into the faces of today. Filter out the scratchy quality and the outdated garb and what we can see is nothing other than the ghosts of ourselves.
It sends shivers down my spine.