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FirstfewpagesofapaperabouttheChicagoartistFredCamper.

DisempoweringPhotography
FredCampersAdjacencies4:Brazil
The power of a photographic image, i.e. the consideration of image as a human
constructionthatexpress/imposemeaning,ispredominantinthelastdecadesinthefield
of criticism. Early semiotic and structuralist theorist were dedicated to the different
messagesencodedinimagesandhowthesecanbedecryptedandstudied.In1964,for
example, RolandBarthes points outthefact that animage,byvirtueofits analogic
nature, seems to constitute a message without a code, from which proposition an
important corollary must immediately be drawn: the photographic message is a
continuousmessage(Barthes,158).ThepointthatBartheshighlightsbyconsidering
imagesasacodelessoruntransformedmessageistheproblemofthenaturalizationof
the photographic image; photographic images consider as real objects, rather than
illusionistic spaces.This acknowledges the capacity ofphotography as technology to
bringforthabeing,butignoresthechallengingthatthesameessenceofbringingforth
throughtechnologicalmeansimposeintothisact.Barthesdisregardstheelementswhich
photography uses as medium to extract meaning from nature and their specific
limitations.Naturalization,asotherabsoluteformstounderstandphotography,tendsto
conceal the faculty of an object, what is being photographed, to produce multiple
definitions or to be undefined. An image that is considered as natural hides its
representationalnature,theessenceofanimageasimitation,andreplacestheexperience

ofconfrontingtheobjectitportrays.Anobjectthathasbeentotalizedcannotbethought
anymore,andtheabsenceofthoughtoverthatobjectalsoimpliestheabsenceofcreation.
Intheseterms,photographicnaturalizationpresentsverysimilarcharacteristicstothe
ideaof enframing thatthephilosopherMartinHeideggerdescribesinhisessay,The
QuestionConcerningTechnology,asthatwhichnotonlyconcealsaformerwayof
revealing, bringingforth, but it concealsrevealing itself and with it(Heidegger, 14).
EnframingisaformofchallengingnaturetorevealtherealasHeideggerwouldsay,as
anorderandconservativeform.However,photographycanofferadifferentapproachto
issuesconcerningknowledgeandperceptionbyacknowledgingthatphotographyhasa
code;thatitisframed,composed,thatithasacolorindividuallyselected,aswellasthe
formofitslines,andincertaincases,itsplacementsamongotherimages.
FredCampersAdjacencies4:Brazilisanartistbook,formedby101groupsofimages,
which carefully manages the different elements of photographic objectification to
disempowerthem.Camperapproachtophotography,asitwillbeclearattheendofthis
paper,isneitherconcernwiththecreationofmeaningfulanddiscreteunitsofthough,nor
withthecreatingaunilinearconnectionbetweenthemas anaturalizedorabsolute
approachtophotographywould.Onthecontrary,Campersimagesareopenentitiesthat
allowtheviewertoconnectthem adinfinitum. Althoughitwouldbenavetosaythat
Camperimagesaremeaningless,theycertainlyarenotastrongforceinaprocessof
objectification; as it will see throughout this paper meaning in Campers work and
specifically,Adjacencies4:Brazilisusuallygeneratedbytheconnectionsthattheviewer
hastoperformonthestaticimages.TheworkispartoftheseriesAdjacenciesconformed

byothersworkssuchasAdjacencies1:IowaHouses,Adjacencies2:IowaHighway,
Adjacencies3:BeijingtoChicagoandseveralworksinprogress. 1Accordingtotheartist,
the work represents 8 cities and towns that constitute only a fraction of Brazil as
follows:Salvador,sheet0.OuroPreto,sheets16.CongonhasdoCampo,sheets713.
Sabar,sheets1420.Salvador,sheets2150.SoPaulo,sheets5168.BeloHorizonte,
sheets6976.RiodeJaneiro,sheets7780.Brasilia,sheets811002.
Thereissomeassumptionsthatproposenowwillbehelpfultoguidethereaderthrough
thedifferentlevelsofartisticstruggleCamperproposeswithoutlosingreallyimportant
characteristicsofthework.First,thefactthatindividualphotographsarenotcloseforms
and that meaning is generated differently with each viewer interaction allows me to
proposeadifferentepistemologicalapproachtotheobjectthatarguablyismoresuitable
forit.Theideaistodeemphasizetheartistastheheroicfigureofthecreatorbymoving
awayfromanartistfocusanalysistoanobjectfocusanalysis,consideringtheideaofan
objectasconstantlychangingandregenerating.Anobjectisaneffectthatiscontinuously
connectedtoitscausesandtheideaofcauses,definedasthattowhichsomethingelseis
indebted(Heidegger,3),wouldprovideaframeworkuponwhichthisanalysiswillbe
structure.AccordingtotheAristotle(asqtd.inHeidegger,4),therearefourcausesfor
anyeffect:(1)causamaterialis,thematerialoutofwhichtheobjectismade;inthese
casethearchitectonicalconstructions;(2)causaformalis,theelements,possibilitiesand
1 The fact that Camper works in series has not been taken that much into account in
the present paper as it is mainly focusing on the analysis of an specific work, but it
certainly supports the general argument of objectification being undermined as it
rejects the value of what gets to be objectified.

2 For more information about the work, see


http://www.fredcamper.com/A/index1.html, which also contains a complete online
version of it.

limitationsofphotography;(3) causafinalis,theunderlyingsocialgoals,somethat,I
wouldargue,canbeconsideredunconsciousfortheartist.Finally,theGreeksproposes
theideaof(4)causaefficiens,whichcountsforwhatbringsabout,withitspeculiarities,a
objectoutofthemyriadpossibilitiesofferedbytheothercauses;inthesecase,theartist.
Secondly,itisreallyrelevanttoconsider,andherewekeeponfollowingHeidegger,that
thefourcausesaretheways,allbelongingatoncetoeachother,ofbeingresponsiblefor
somethingelse(5).Inthisformwetrytoavoidanyover_orunderestimationofthe
artistryofanobjectbyconsideringoneformmorepredominantthanother,aseverypart
isequallyresponsibleforthebringingintoappearanceofsomething,andfortheesthetic
phenomena.Finally,itisimportanttokeepinmindthefactthatthedifferentdivisions
usedhereforanalysispurposesarenotconditionsoftheworkitself;i.e.theworkdoes
notshowitselftotheviewerasaseparatesumofthesedifferentcharacteristics.