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Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Photographer's Body

Stephen Shore: I was thinking of how I would approach the issue of embodiment in photographic terms, and that is if you become aware of yourself as a physical object in space, as though you were a dancer moving through the space of a room, your perception changes, your perception of space changes, your perception of time changes, and to the degree that that perceptual change is visual, it could be communicated in a photograph. So the sense of space is often the easiest of these subtler qualities to talk about, but if your physical awareness of yourself changes your perception of space, if you are a photographer that has had a lot of experience, a practiced photographer who has control of the medium, the picture you take can communicate that.

Michael Fried: Yes. What struck me in [your] landscape photos .... is that I felt something intensely empathic about, for example, the way they depicted the unevenness of the ground. And about the way in which they treated the whole question of relative distance. It had to be read. I mean I was keenly aware of the visual work I had to do to make my way imaginatively through the photos, to figure out distances, to read scale relations. Let's say there is something at a certain distance, it might be a big rock or it might be a smaller one. Everything depends on whether it is a big rock at 800 yards or a small rock at 75 yards, and those photographs don't immediately deliver that information. They make you work for it, and I came to feel that the labor of construal they forced me to do was implicitly physical, if you see what I mean. It was more than just mental, it was equivalent to imagining myself having to physically negotiate that space. So they were for me extremely interesting photos precisely with respect to the issue of bodiliness and empathy. Also, they made me register the unevenness of the ground in a more than strictly visual way -- the way I would have done had I been walking on it, climbing that slope, or coming back down. 

From an interview in the recent Phaidon volume on Stephen Shore

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