The analog photographic image is produced with the help of analog photographic camera. The light that is processed into the film becomes ready to be seen after passing through various chemical stages. After it is developed and fixed, you can look at the negative colored image on the film. This is often inadequate to identify the information contained on it, especially when it is the first encounter with the photographic image, the image is very small, and it is black where it should be white and vice versa. The first thing that can be done is to transform/prepare the photographic image for the act of looking. For this, photographic image is transferred to a bigger surface -the larger it becomes, more easily noticeable the details. This is an act of decoding.
After the transfer, this information-containing surface which we can now call a photographic object, has the potential to create meaning, and a meaning is created with a glimpse or a gaze; this duration (not an instant as in the shutter release) of viewing can be thought of as a scan, an analysis, a walk on the surface. I look at the photo I took and it reminds me of the instant I took it. From this point in time I can go to that moment in which I release the shutter, or the instances just before and after, as in my decision making process and the aftermath of the release of shutter. Eventually my final destination on this journey in time will be the assets in the photograph and the mechanism of the cause and effect of the recording.
To produce a photograph is to create a discourse. A photographic object is produced for viewing, an unseen photograph is a paradoxical object. It is created to be looked at, but one end of this two-way communication is closed, the photographic image turns into a dead end. I may forget that I took the photo I took, I may never ever develop it, I may never look at it, the photo I have completely forgotten would be no longer there, until maybe one day I will come across a negative and I will hold it to the light, and I will recognize it.
The photograph corresponds to a moment where the individual decides to record, as Sontag says, to make a photograph is to “confer importance”. When in the mid 19th century, with its invention, there were three main features that were fascinating about photography, sharpness (reality) of the image, the automaticity of the process, and the permanence of the image. According to Draaisma in Metaphors of Memory, the last feature had the biggest impact, the invention of photography was the invention of “a mirror with a memory” (Draaisma, 1995)
The subjects of the first photographic images were not chosen with the desire to capture that specific subject. They were still informing objects, but information contained on those images were less about the visual content, but more about the technological aspect. The photograph, which we have to consider as a technological product, was first created to show that it was realizable. Niepce, Daguerre, Talbot, and all the names that played their parts in the emergence of this technology, did not go through all the trouble to make a photograph of their loved ones. From its birth, photography is a social object. It is so by its nature, as it captures what is out there, in the material world, and is analyzed and understood inside, in the consciousness. The outside-inside, self-other relationship manifests itself clearly in photography.
After its social existence in the first stage, although it still seemed quite magical, it did not take too long for photography become a widespread phenomenon. In terms of its production and distribution photography became accessible to the masses. There was a shift from its use solely by its inventors to the use of general public, first with the professional photographers that created the business sector. Initially, from an economic point of view, the limited production of photography kept it from being used just for anything, restricting it to be used for “important” moments. Eventually the ability of creation succeeded to reach to general public as well; families owning a camera for documenting their moments of daily life, individuals started to document what they wanted to immortalize.
When we take a very big step and come to the present day, we find ourselves in a race of uncountable amount of photographs produced continuously.
The significance of the photograph, and significance comes from its duty that derives from its nature here, comes from the communication that the photo creates. A photograph is a surface containing information, and the more it can transmit and trigger the formation of new information, the more it fulfills its nature.
As Flusser says, we live in the photographic universe, rather unconsciously. The most dominant and strongest of the human senses we use for communication is visuality. Believing what you see is the dominant tendency, and it is true until you reach the point of not always believing what you see. When we consider it as the externalization of memory, photography is a way of extending the limits of our own abilities, like many things we produce (artifacts), and should be treated as such. The phenomenon augmented by photography is the production and storage of information, hence the memory space.
Photographs are objects of memory, and when it comes to memory, the working principles of our brain become important. There is a similarity between the structure of neurons that we see in the functioning of the brain and the connections a photograph circulates through after its production: when we look at the photographic apparatus, it is inevitable to notice its networked structure: the camera manufacturers, who have a say in the formation and distribution of photographic technology. Galleries where photographs are shown, newspapers and magazines, walls of buildings in the street, now screens on our phones and computers. There is a crucial aspect with the latter; our digital revolution is as big as the leap caused by the externalization of memory through photography. The distribution of the photograph over the webs is accelerated at a very fast pace, and now it proceeds in this networked structure at a speed that is difficult to follow as if it were an electric current going from one point to another, from one neuron to the other.
Here, what we call the society, an organism consisting of singular individuals, and the movement of the information among them gains importance. Communication technologies where images are transferred to individuals, such as the newspapers, television, internet, social media, and the means of transferring images through them, are as important as the meaning on the surface of photograph. What is official? What is not? Is the official real? (de facto v. de jurée) What should one believe in and what should be approached with doubt? In a more complex field, who controls and determines what we see? Is a media image used to reflect the truth as we say it is the inherent feature of photography (immediately after we state that it does not always apply), or to reflect other codes, rules, beliefs that have been identified? What is the meaning of the
We may need to bring a new perspective to the last question. It is important to understand the relationship between all the visual images that we are constantly exposed to and our society, which these images themselves help us to create and maintain, to be able to understand this question and hopefully its answer. For this, the point we will start with is our smallest social community, family institution, which is one of the most critical points where personal and social, private and public come together. This duality of family photographs, being very personal at the same time as well as being connected to a certain community; the relationship defined through the bloodline and social norms and shared moments but also the fact that this community is defined by the state or other power holders, makes it into an interesting subject to look into. Family photographs are important as they are selected and curated according to individual feelings, shared experiences and social norms. The evolution of the old approach to family photographs is affected with the digital revolution.
In my practice, I talk about the differences between analog and digital photography, the areas in which they are intertwined, published and unpublished photographs, unknown photographs, who has published them, forgotten photographs, unforgettable photographs. In this thesis, I will talk about two projects that I am carrying out to help my research. What works have in common is that I simply try to explain the singular and plural, the inside and the outside, the private and public, the individual and the society, and the relationship and importance between these dualities.