Analysis of Image as Icon

Analysis of ‘Image as Icon: Recognizing the Enigma’

In Tracey Warr’s essay, ‘Image as Icon: Recognizing the Enigma’ , she identifies and discusses four discourses of public presentation photography–the papers, the icon, the simulacrum and the unrecorded act–and what is at interest in these discourses is the ‘truth’ .

What she describes as ‘contradictory’ and combative between the discourses, I believe what she has shown is the different ways in which picture taking is utilized and read as a medium for documenting and showing a unrecorded public presentation. Although these exposures may offer themselves as an accurate record of the event, or the complete ‘truth’ , Warr shows how uncomplete, though necessary, picture taking is in picturing the experience of the unrecorded public presentation.

Adrian George offers a loose definition of unrecorded public presentation art as chiefly dwelling of a life ‘human presence–a organic structure ( or organic structures ) in infinite and at a specific minute, or for a definite period’ . What is hard about public presentation art is that most people expect to see ‘art’ in a traditional sense, which is an art object. Performances do non hold a ‘fixed referential basis’ , much like Robert Smithson’s earthwork, Spiral Jetty 1970, whose coiling formation no longer exists physically due to eroding by the sea. Because public presentations and works like Spiral Jetty ‘continue to be merely through an accretion of certification and discourse’ documenting these plants become really of import in puting them in a historical context.

In Warr’s discourses of public presentation picture taking as the papers and the simulacra, we have what appear to be two polarizing discourses–the ‘real’ grounds and the simulation ; nevertheless, her development of both discourses arrives at similar decisions about truth relation. Warr defines the discourse of the papers as ‘the image perform [ ing ] the function of materialist grounds and proof–showing us precisely what happened so we can ‘know’ it’ while the discourse of the simulacra ‘explores fakery, the performative and representation’ . Harmonizing to Susan Sontag, unlike authorship or even pictures and drawings which are perceived as ‘interpretations’ , the exposure is perceived non so much as ’statements about the universe so much as pieces of it, illuminations of world that anyone can do or acquire’ . However, both Warr and Sontag debunk the myth that the exposure is nonsubjective or factual. The public presentation is filtered through the lensman and camera through the procedure of framing, cropping and composing the exposure.

Then there is the procedure of taking the best exposure to stand for the full public presentation, which Warr points out are normally the most composed exposure. In add-on to this procedure of decrease, the experience of ’sound, clip, infinite, [ and ] frequently the audience’ are losing from the exposure. The exposure as papers is exposed, so to talk, as being like the simulacra, a mere representation or a simulation–the papers is a building. In mention to Hans Namuth’s exposure picturing Jackson Pollock picture, Fred Orton and Griselda Pollocks’ pose the inquiry: ‘how far does the lensman papers what happened and how far does he or she create the ‘documented’ phenomenon? ’

Although Namuth’s exposure can be read as historical paperss of the painter, Warr points out that these images are really ‘Namuth and Pollock presenting Pollock’ . Another inquiry that could be asked is how much does the creative person perform for the audience and how much does the creative person perform for the camera? Many public presentations during the 60s and 70s are ‘hybrid public presentation photography’ which were performed particularly for the camera as opposed to a unrecorded audience.

This sort of public presentation picture taking subverts the map of the exposure as an aim, unnoticeable papers as the intercrossed public presentation picture taking blatantly uses the camera as an confederate to present its public presentation.

Hybrid public presentation picture taking besides subverts the cardinal thought in the discourse of the unrecorded act. In this discourse, certification is relegated to a mere ’subsidiary status’ while the unrecorded public presentation itself is ‘primary, psychotherapeutic, witnessed and ontological’ . Here, certification is supposed to be every bit ‘unobtrusive’ as possible because the most of import facet is the interaction between the performing artist and the audience, an facet that comes from the traditions of the theater.

However, seeking to capture the experience of the interaction between the performing artist and the audience is debatable as non merely is the photograph incomplete as a truth Teller as mentioned already but the spectator of the exposure can non step in with the public presentation. During the unrecorded public presentation, there is an chance for the audience to respond ‘with a corporeal response’ but when sing the public presentation through a exposure, the spectator is ‘already in reading mode’ . Trying to decode whether or non the exposure of Chris Burden’s nail-scarred custodies in Trans-fixed 1999 is existent or staged is an illustration of being in the reading manner.

Because the unrecorded public presentation lacks a fixed referent, the public presentation exposure itself is apt to go an icon. Here, the exposure maps beyond merely a mere papers or a staged image. In this discourse of public presentation picture taking, the ‘icon presents us with a manifestation of the unknowable and an brush with that manifestation in a province of belief’ . Warr points out that the function of the exposure as an icon is riddled with contradictions and via media. The icon ‘is both indexical and documentary’ , showing itself as touchable grounds but in making so it besides ‘compromises it position as a manifestation of an unknowable to be believed’–conjuring up issues of fakery. The icon is a paradox because the iconic ‘must be universally familiar and …enigmatic’ , or ‘the known and the unknowable’ . In the universe of art, the exposure of Jackson Pollock and Joseph Beuys–images of two celebrated and well-known artists–are as much icons as are their graphics.

Warr’s geographic expedition of the four discourses presents contradictions between the discourses but at times they besides complement each other. However, all four discourses point to the decision that even public presentation picture taking, like the art object, has no fixed significance nor is there a fixed relationship between picture taking and public presentation. As Warr has shown us, it is a relationship that is extremely complex.


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