Positions & Practice

  • The Beetle in a Box – and Critical Theory Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951) might just be the most influential philosopher of the 20th century.  At Cambridge he was under Bertrand Russell‘s tutelage, essentially being taught that the job of philosophy is to put definitions on everything. Russell eventually believed Wittgenstein to be a genius. In the only full length book published in his lifetime (Tractatus ... ”Read
  • The Cruel Radiance – Susie Linfield I just read The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political violence, by Susie Linfield (University of Chicago Press, 2010), and found it totally fascinating. Essentially, Linfield challenges the idea that photography of political violence exploits the subject and panders to the viewer’s voyeuristic tendencies. Instead she argues passionately that looking at such images, and learning how ... ”Read
  • Constructs and Seeing In talking with Steph Cosgrove about my documentary work at the recent Falmouth ‘Face 2 Face’, she was good enough to share some videos about the image as a construct. I am not going to repeat the whole thing here, but a couple of quotes stood out as I was thinking how this refers to my documentary ... ”Read
  • The Camera as Judge and Executioner As I develop the Cambodia Project for my MA, the need to research is clear. Archiving the Unspeakable, by Michelle Caswell, is a fascinating read. It deals with the role of photographic archives in the activities of the Khmer Rouge at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison, now the Genocide Museum, in Phnom Penh. Every visitor ... ”Read
  • Truth in Photographs There are many different philosophical theories of truth – pragmatism, coherence, realism, correspondence, language etc. That said, it is indeed TRUE that there are many theories. That is a truth in its own right, which we would all accept. We also have generally accepted notions of truth – night follows day; one plus one equals two; the Moon orbits the ... ”Read
  • Memory, Narration and Curation in Photography Reading Roland Barthes‘ Camera Lucida reminded me of a  post I wrote in 2014. Here it is, in full. In recent meetings and photo shoots with friends, I have been attempting to self-appraise my photography – when do I shoot my best work, when do I not? Perhaps a little presumptuously, what is my signature style, when am ... ”Read
  • Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida – An ultimately depressing book Camera Lucida, by Roland Barthes, is an odd book. It has become a classic text on the subject – yet Barthes was not a photographer, and had little time for colour images or ‘clever theories’ from the photographer’s perspective (such as Cartier-Bresson’s ‘Decisive Moment’). Barthes notes that an image could be considered from three angles – the ... ”Read
  • Joseph Wright of Derby Several of my fellow students have noted painters such as Caravaggio and Rembrandt as inspirations, with their mastery of both light and compositions, delivering works of great beauty and power. Since I was a kid, growing up near Derby, I was always fascinated by Joseph Wright of Derby, wondering ‘how did he paint that’. I don’t think ... ”Read
  • The Caged Bird Was very taken by this from Joel Saarda, writing about his inspiration for photography as part of Week 2, Interdisciplinary. Joel was referring to Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? in the Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994) “I also see the photographer as a caged bird. One who desperately wishes to convey something, freely ... ”Read
  • Interdisciplinarity The theme of Week Two is close to my heart, as I am Visiting Professor at the Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning (IDEA CETL) at the University of Leeds. In 1985, I was also one of Procter & Gamble’s first General Managers leading a multinational team across Europe, which included multiple disciplines ... ”Read
mickyatesContextual Research