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Truth: The Photographic Image

vikiwalden | Wednesday May 13, 2009

Categories: Film, Documentaries, Truth, Other Topics

In Andre Bazin’sOntology of the Photographic Image” from What is Cinema? He announces his belief in Cinema as True Realism:

“The quarrel over realism in art stems from a misunderstanding, from a confusion between the aesthetic and psychological; between true realism, the need that is given significant expression to the world both concretely and its essence, and the pseudorealism of a deception aimed a fooling the eye (or the mind for that matter); a pseudorealism content in other words with illusory appearances. That is why medieval art never passed through this crisis; simultaneously vividly realistic and highly spiritual, it knew nothing of the drama that cam to light as a consequence of technical developments. Perspective was the original sin of Western painting.

It was redeemed from sin by Niepce and Luminere. In achieving the aims of Baroque art, photography has freed the plastic arts from their obsession likeness. Painting was forced, as it turned out, to offer us illusion and this illusion was reckoned sufficient unto art. Photography and the cinema on the other hand are discoveries that satisfy, once and for all and in its very essence, our obsession with realism.

No matter how skilful the painter, the work was always in fee to an inescapable subjectivity. The fact that a human hand intervened cast a shadow of doubt over the image. Again, the essence factor in the tradition from the baroque to photography is not the perfecting of a physical process (photography will long remain the inferior of painting in the reproduction of colour); rather does it lie in a psychological fact, to wit, in completely satisfying our appetite for illusion by a mechanical reproduction in the making of which, man plays no part. The solution is not to be found in the result achieved but in the way of achieving it.”

Bazin’s description can be confusing, he believes man takes no part in the process of filming… once the camera has been turned on...

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