The history of photography is a realm of a man’s philosophical and scientific thoughts joined in their mutual incorporation. It starts in ancient times when Aristotle and Euclid were talking about pinhole camera in order to reflect the rays of light into a picture (Davenport 4). It was then well supported by the invention of a camera obscura by a Byzantine scholar Anthemius of Tralles (Davenport 6). Since that time, different scholars and inventors were trying to make up a special substance of chemicals (silver nitrate and silver chloride) able to reflect different shades of light.
The next tries to make up a picture out of light is considered with the early 19th century when Joseph Nicephore Niepce, the French inventor, made the first permanent photograph in 1826 which was then improved by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1836 (Davenport 9). It took some 70 years since that invention when new ideas enforced upon the popularization of cameras and photograph, in particular.
Kodak Brownie box camera (1900) gave a fresh breath to photographers, as it was more convenient and appropriate while taking photos and creating photographs thereafter (Davenport 67). A myriad of inventors were working over further perfection of the photography. The twentieth century was the time when cinema has been invented alongside photography. With the development of scientific-technological progress, the inception of Technicolor and the foundation of Fuji Photo Film along with Kodachrome made a color photo possible (Gernsheim 136). Contemporary digital photographs made all troubles with snapshots solved by an easy click.
However, the main issue corresponds to the invention and development of the surreal photos. An overview is posed on the figures of Andre Breton, Man Ray and Lee Miller who were the legends of a surrealistic photograph (Robinson 79). Different manipulations over traditional photography in a surrealistic manner helped artists overcome its limitations while paying more attention to the unconscious mind and prior human instincts in a portrait photograph.
The historical analysis of the staged and sequential photography should be taken in terms of the general development of the photography. It is all about the surrealistic manner in the photographic process. Staged photography has been developed before the advent of moving pictures (Peres 70). It kept a strict eye on the static visualization of people and things around them. However, done in a more Modernistic manner for increasing space of an observer’s view, staged photographs were well shaped with experimental works by surrealists. Robert Doisneau’s Un Regard Oblique is an especially emphasized example of a staged photography taken in further discussion.
Sequenced photography has been created on the background of “philosophical toys” which symbolized the advent of moving pictures (Marien 213). In fact, such a manipulation was quite significant for surrealists in order to maintain a genuine place of a movement characterized by a series of different photographs. Duane Michals was one of the most popular and outstanding representatives of the genre. His Things are Queer is a great example of manipulation with darkness, mirrors, and doubling (Orvell 168).
All in all, the aforementioned photographers and their concrete photographs are under analysis. To make it plain, reasoning on each among two photos resembles the gist of surrealism and various manipulations over a photograph in order to release its hidden sides and expose them to an observer. In this respect the impression of movement in a sequence photo and the plan and concept in a staged photo are well developed on the basis of an artistic thought realized through a surrealistic vision.
In fact, as the experts might say that “interpretation is forced on us only by a surfeit of ambiguity” (Bruner 9). Hence, to take a glimpse at the peculiarities of staged and sequence photographs, one should bear it in mind that a predominant conception of an artist (photographer) is the most privileged. A critical assumption is, thus, another way to perceive each among stated photographers in their intentions and meaning imposed on the photograph.
Robert Doisneau creates a spectacular view on what is the main in his picture. At a glance, it feels like the woman’s vision is prior on the photograph (Doane 39). The woman is more about to grab a viewer’s attention, as her movements and expression on her face have plenty to talk about her particular intentions to describe the picture in front of her. The content of the picture is hidden, and one can only make his/her personal imaginary construct of what attracted the woman. In fact, two persons are standing in front of the glass plate window. This is a so-called representation of the borderline between the two individuals (man and woman) during their discussion of the pictures. The art gallery and the two are definitely at different sides. Obviously, the man is gawking at another canvas of a female nude:
While the woman stares at a painting whose content is hidden from the spectator, the man, from the margin of the photograph, looks across her and beyond to another painting, of a female nude, concentrating attention on his own voyeuristic desire and negating that of the woman (Doane 40).
The “narrative mental powers” to be read in this photograph consider an implementation of the philosophical constituent (Bruner 21). It goes without saying that the sense of the photograph is its stage which is treated differently by spectators. As a matter of fact, viewers seem to focus solely on the obscenity of the man who is paying attention to the female nude on the picture while pretending to listen to the woman. The use of high and low angles is masterly implemented in order a spectator could feel himself/herself as an eye of camera or photographer, particularly (Sontag 170). Thus, the genuine art seems to run into a man’s instincts. This is the conflict shown in the body of the photograph. It is well supported by the Modernistic flows, especially those of Freud.
Susan Sontag is intended to define photography as “an elegiac art, a twilight art” (Sontag 15). Duane Michals provides a scope of his game with shadows, darkness, twilight, as strange as it may seem, and doubling. In Things are Queer he develops a set of postures which are dynamically related to the overall idea of a man’s life at its specific interval. His manipulation of the photograph delves a spectator into the reality of the photograph keeping track of a pure imagination. The overall representation in this sequence photograph is greatly described by Miles Orvell:
Michals begins with a scene in a bathroom, and in successive images moves ever backward, reframing the original scene in a series that ends where it began, a reflexive structure resembling the turns of a Moebius strip that could go on infinitely (Orvell 167-168).
As might be seen, where Doisneau uses different angles to show the impressiveness of the photograph, Michals takes advantage of different snapshots in order to augment the impression through the dynamics and foreshortening taken. Michal’s photograph, however, “requires a formal conceit” (Sontag 134). Besides, his mastership of looking at things from behind gives more ground for a spectator to get down into an insightful rumination over the photo. The artist’s most favorite themes exposed in the photograph are sex, mortality and spirituality (Peres 182).
Taking a look at the title of the work and its concrete representation, one may think of some gay connections imposed on the photograph. It surely complies with the notion of sex and sexuality pointed out in the photo. It is well supported by the notion of imagination and reality represented in the photo. However, this issue needs a particular view on what a queer thing is: “What is queer is the certainty by which we label things as normal or abnormal, decent and obscene, gay and straight” (Cited in Shapiro 387). To say more, one should draw attention to the cyclic nature of things that seem queer. Starting with an empty bathroom, it ends up with it.
Temporal sequence is what characterizes the essential significance of narrative (Bruner 6). Action in a continuum of time is a vague moment which needs being captured in order to get the notion of the moment in life. Thus, Michals could respond to these issues through making a step-by-step insightful and quite logical demonstration of a man’s life in a sequence of particular moments.
To conclude, the ideas of imagination and reality outlined in this research are well shape the whole interest of mine. The mastership of vision represented in two different photographs is what grabs a spectacular attention. As for me, Doisneau and Michals made the art of photography simple to an ordinary spectator that is really appropriate in reasoning over reality, time, and imagination of an artist. As far as I am concerned, it was done emphatically and with a huge desire by both artists. The static of a staged photograph and the dynamics of a sequence photograph are well referred to the theme of sexual relations of people perplexed with the imaginary vision of reality by both artists. Insofar, the value that I have taken out of the research is that it will help me to make my own designs of reality and imagination, so to speak, in a more sophisticated and artistically full-fledged manner so as to clearly illuminate my personal vision imposed further on a spectator.