Practice and Preperation: Photography and Poetry

‘Reading a poem is a quest for unity, and unity is achieved or perceived only when the reader abandons the apparent referential or representational meaning of the discourse and grasps the unifying feature of factor that the various signs of the poem express by indirection’.

The statement above was very interesting as if the word ‘poem’ was replaced with the word ‘photograph’ then the sentence would still make sense to the reader and not be out of context.

At this stage, this may only be a basic observation but one still worth noting. This similarities referring to the reader and the viewer not being given an obvious task of decoding (Hall 1999) a text. Elements are often open to interpretation or signifiers and signified (Barthez 1980) are not obvious. Riffaterre as cited by Culler (1981) refers to the term Hypogram which as far as I can ascertain refers to repeated variants of the same invariant. Photograph or poem may address a theme without addressing that theme directly. Requiring the audience to embark on the pursuit for semiotic union.

‘Poetic signs in a text are powerfully overdetermined: they both refer to a preexisting hypogram and are variants or transformations of a matrix.’

Furthering the the approach that the emphasis and practice of ‘decoding’ is as important if not more important than understanding the semiotic union.’ The process of putting the signs together as opposed to understanding a conclusion (semiotic union) may illustrate the journey to understanding a 2nd meaning.

The image below may be illustrative of this approach, Without being sure if I would label this image ‘poetic. although I believe the image contains a range of variants which point to the semiotic union.

Traditionally, children will play games in any location and if one is in possession of a football then then environment may be modified to serve as a makeshift football pitch. the tree and the fence forming an integral part of what appears to be a penalty shoot out.

The penalty shoot out is probably one of the most infamous practices in recent football history in Britain. A reference of British failure, lack of precision, skill and nerve. The small boy in the foreground deemed not yet old enough to comprehend the seriousness of the event in hand, he is excluded on the basis that he isn’t old enough to handle the pressure while the participants of the contest devote all of their attention to glory.

As this all unfolds, the figure in the orange hat is taking polite interest by observing the event as opposed to the football match taking place to the left. The small structure in the background can be seen populated by spectators who are performing the role they are supposed to be, engaged with the game and observing the spectacle.

Although other signs are present within the image, ideologies are evidenced on a range of levels. The impact of the game in this semi wooded landscape, A ‘do it yourself culture’ in using a makeshift fence illustrates that this community setting is still in need of development and the confronting of a national insecurity, the penalty shootout.

Barthez, Roland (1980) Camera Lucida, London, Vintage.

Culler, J (1982) Culler, The Persuit of Signs, Routledge, London.

Franklin, S. (2016) The Documentary Impulse, Phaidon, New York.

Hall, Stuart (1999) ‘Encoding, Decoding’ in The Cultural Studies Reader. Routledge, London

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s