Translating Performance: desire, intention and interpretation in photographic documents
Since the 1990s, weight has been given to the reception of the photographic document and the phenomenological experience of observing such an artefact.1 Debates about documenting performance have focused on the document’s relationship with its respective audiences, and this mode of investigation has positioned the camera and its operator as an accidental or passive witness receiving a performance happening in front of the lens, and where the photographs produced are positioned as a by-product, supplement or representation of the live moment.2 Furthermore, the advent of digital photography and the subsequent decline of analog photography has not only altered image-making processes but is changing the way in which images are received. This chapter therefore interrogates the notion that digital is any less reliable than analog photography by discussing interventions in the phases of capture common to both formats; and by situating these interventions as a palimpsestic feature of photo-documentation. These interventions comprise: the subject in front of the camera; the photographer and the camera itself; and the spectator or academic scholar examining, receiving and making meaning out of visual information. The construction and editing of photography by subject and photographer is considered in terms of intention; and the authors also consider the notion that if the act of photography, and its resulting images, have their own visual language, then the creation of a performance image can be considered a form of transcription which has implications for how images are read (and particularly the lack of universality in readings).
Citation : Newall, H., Skinner, A. and Taylor, A. (2017) Translation, Digitisation and Desire in Photographic Documents of Performance. In Sant, T. (Ed.) Documenting Performance, London: Bloomsbury.
ISBN : 9781472588203
Research Institute : Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies
- Leicester Media School