Paula at Lost in Translation kindly asked me to host a guest challenge which I gladly did because those challenges often entail great discussions. That’s what’s happening… Jo wondered if organizing noise was something like finding beauty in ugliness. I remarked that the phrase might also be understood as “ordering chaos” and then realized that this answer might make sense in more ways than I would have thought.
1. I was reminded of Michel Foucault’s L’ordre du discours, “The Order of Discourse.” Order/ordre seems to signify system here, or disposal, also connoting terms like regulation or even directive.
According to Foucault, there is no knowledge to be had outside of Discourse. Discourse decides what can be said within reason and what cannot, and what form a proposition must have. By exerting this power, Discourse forces knowledge into existing: The ways in which we can think or speak about anything determine what we can know about these things.
2. I was also reminded of Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, one of the masterworks of Modernity. Writing this novel, Döblin saw himself confronted with the problem of representing all the things happening simultaneously in a metropolis. As a solution, it seems, he chose the form of collage. And in one of the many essays that may be read as commentaries of his work, Döblin asks: “Was steigt in das Becken des Jetzt?” – “What will climb into the Pool of Now?”
Climbing into the Pool of Now: I love this metaphor! Today I get the impression that it is also a photographer’s (and an artist’s) question: What will be allowed to ‘climb’ into the picture – now?
Answering this question by releasing the shutter, we force pictures into being, pictures of a world that often presents itself to us as an incomprehensible chaos. Pictures then can help us sort it out, no matter if we choose the counter-discourse of art or the discourse of reportage.
Pictures from Litfaß session no. 11
An entry for the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.
The notion of son organisé seems to be central to composer Edgar Varèse’s understandung of music. “Son” can be translated into both ‘sound’ and ‘noise,’ and it is the ‘noise’ part that fascinates me. For music, it means broadening the material that can be used for a composition: Varèse apparently claimed that ‘noise’ is only another word for any sound one subjectively does not like .
In my eyes the concept of organized noise begs the question of its applicability to pictures. Photography is known to record ‘noise’ in capturing the old, the broken, the decrepit – the sights someone might not like subjectively. The medium appears to lend itself to this aesthetic choice, and it has been keenly criticized for it.
But there is also the aspect of organizing noise into music – or visual ‘noise’ into pictures. Some sights overwhelm us with their complexity, some with their ugliness or apparent meaninglessness. Nonetheless, I claim that photography can be a means of reducing this complexity, or making sense of the ‘noise.’
So, how to approach this? Here is a couple of thoughts:
- Take your pick: Not all available ‘sounds’ have to be heard at the same time – not all the available elements have to go into the composition of the picture. Get closer, eliminate some of the ‘noise.’
- Look for a main voice: Find a visual anchor that dominates all the other elements. Or look for a visible hierarchy of 1st, 2nd, 3rd (etc.) voices. What’s dominant? What’s just background noise?
- Find a rhythm: Straight horizontal or vertical frame-to-frame lines can convey such a sense.
For this challenge abstract pictures may work better than those showing recognizable objects. The abstract pictures in this post were made ‘using’ the battered trash container below.
Comments are closed for this post because I would like to invite you to visit Paula’s Lost in Translation and participate in the challenge. Thank you – and have fun!
Winter is almost over (as far as the dark time of the year is concerned) and yet I did not play around with city lights as much as I had intended, so Paleica’s Magic Motto Schilder und Schriften (signs and fonts) presented a welcome opportunity to do just that. I am not sure the Muses will be good to me again, so I think this is the final post for this challenge.
Be sure to enjoy the other participants’ entries!
Paleica just started a photo challenge involving twelve magic mottos for this year. This month’s theme is Schilder und Schriften (signs and fonts). Since the season is still dark, I decided to look for letters that glow.