Postmodernist analysis looks at photography outside the tenets of the modernist perspective. (Modernism saw things in terms of authors & aesthetic & technical development/innovation. The canon of masters. Trailblazers. Explorers. The Few.)
Postmodernism considered the photograph from another point of view, looking at it through it’s production, dissemination, reception, and to engage with its inherent reproducibility. Falseness. Mimicry.
Photographers as signs that acquire significance. & value in relationship to large social & cultural codings.
Meanings are not made or perhaps even controlled by the artist but only by reference to other images and sign.
Viewing is hinged on our memory’s stock images. The cultural baggage we have collected. Our generic files.
They are know to us. They reflect other chapters in this book.
Through these layers we are invited to question and investigate. To be conscious/self-conscious. In looking and seeing. Our triggers and training.
Cindy Sherman uses many of these elements revisiting different photographic genres to examine them and ask questions of our relationship with these materials. She began with film stills. Photographing herself as feminine types. Feminist ? Constructed with props and hints. Allowing us the viewer to extend plots and narrative. To guess at the conclusion to the movie.
What we are taught to expect. Attributes as play, as role play. As photographer & model she asks questions and highlights issues of the image of women. The male gaze. She has also engaged in conversations with fashion photography/ pornography/portraiture, amongst other things.
Nikki S. Lee examines the social constructs of different social groups. She researches and assimilates into various social groups. Changing looks, styles, weight, hair, skin. The building blocks and the reductions of people.
Others use similar techniques to feed back into personal. Feeding back into portraits of intimate life. Into family. Access to new perspectives. Remembering or becoming the other. Critiquing roles. Examine the family.
Historical albums & archives examined. The unseen is brought into focus. The hidden shown. By showing what we do not see we perhaps question why we do not see this. Did the missing not exist? Was the missing not documented? Why? If they did exist and were photographed, are museums & archives flawed? Why were these images left out? Why were they not included? Breaking the reduced vision with question marks.
Also examine art in general. Other peoples works and the traditions they work within are examined. Their vision applied elsewhere. The structure reveal against a new background?
Different forms & styles of photography can be used and views can reach far back into history. They use the building blocks of visual language and techniques and chemicals can part of this language. Historical techniques. Scientific photography. Camera less photography. The different techniques also produce different results. Another element of the language. The conclusions mass produced or single pieces.
The gathering of existing photographs.
Using these images to make a body of work. Building layers. Almost like a musical sample. Isolating and repeating images from the world. Or gathering the same images. The same type of image. A thousand photos of strawberries.
Images from the Internet. Repetitions and juxtapositions. Gathering things from cultures and from history. Almost making images into a storyboard. Images that do ‘t belong together. Imposing stories on to historical images. On to other images.
Lost photographs/ destroyed photographs/ typologies of the list. The “orphans”. Placed back into history. Their importance elevated. Lostness adds our fiction to them. The artist perhaps adds value. Emotional & cultural.
Rules again. Only the discarded only this, only that, found here, showing this. Pornography, gestures from soap operas etc.
Photographs that reference other photographs or using the same themes, snippets of images, altering photographs. Removing or adding or manipulating.
Playing with form. The snapshot made big. Reference. Reference. Reference. All the classical forms can be approached this way. Examined. Used.
“At the heart of this lie the possibilities that postmodern practice represents for contemporary art photographers to. E able to knowingly shape the subjects that intrigue them, conscious of the heritage of the imagery into which they are entering, and to see the contemporary world through the pictures we already know”.