The following is an extract from an essay written as a requirement for my Master’s Degree in Photographic Studies in 1990. It explores the theoretical underpinnings of elements from my photographic practice through three pieces of work, ‘IDEAL HOMES’ from 1979, ‘A CROWN BUILDING’ from 1982, and ‘PUIG MAYOR, Observations in Passing’ from 1988. The published books (see ‘Books’) of these latter two works each include an essay extract relevant to that work.
The full essay can be accessed via the link at the foot of this page.
‘Ideal Homes, A Crown Building, and Puig Major all provide within each body of work the creative potential of a text created with and by the reader. This reading of the work is inevitably open to a number of potential texts and it is therefore an open text rather than the closed text of for example the mass media. However, in this particular case the usual tripartite relationship between author, work/text and reader is significantly altered. Eco’s theory of aberrant decoding, whilst acknowledged, will not be an issue in my reading of the work, because of my position of being both author and reader. The open text of this work whilst providing the usual potential for aberrant decoding will, because of this unification of this author/reader status, ensure that at a conscious level at least, a preferred reading (mine) of the work, is inevitable.
The photographs of ‘Ideal Homes’, ‘A Crown Building’, and ‘Puig Mayor-Observations in Passing’, all share what might be loosely described as a ‘style’, incorporated both into their making and their production. Style in this sense is …
‘an integral part of sets of rules, codes and conventions which organise and are contested in forms of social interaction, communication and identity…they combine certain recurrent and patterned elements into a structured ensemble or form which signifies and proposes an identifiable position within wider social relations’ 1 (O’Sullivan et al.)
This ‘structured ensemble or form’ is therefore a fundamental element of signification and meaning, and can be more precisely analysed through what Saussure and Eco describe as codes. These three series of works largely share at a fundamental level of production, a set of codes which can be described as technical codes i.e. those particular to the photographic medium. These consist of lighting, view point, focus, camera, format, etc. They offer scope for both selection and combination and therefore contain what Saussure describes as both a paradigmatic and syntagmatic dimension to provide a signifying whole.
In these particular works these codes are adopted as follows: –
Lighting: The lighting is either natural daylight or………………………….