The power of an Image

Images are everywhere. They are man, man and nature and only nature-made, enormous (a rainbow) and hardly visible (a tiny photo in a newspaper), breathtaking and quite aesthetically appalling, ethics – proof (a picture of an apple) or sensitive to a moral valuation (an image of a naked child)…

Thinking image we think: visual representation, idol/ symbol, picture/photo but also: metaphor (linguistic image), conception, appearance (mental image) and: envisage-vision ( imagining somethingcreating pure fantasies). We live among pictures, we think and feel through them, we used to fight and die (and indeed some people are still dying) believing in the power of tribal, national and religious icons. The very first experiences on this world are related to images of mother’s face, hand, smile. It’s like a forever living picture in our minds – impossible to remove or even to alter…In a fact, we are so image-driven and image-powered than we keep on looking for it, both voluntarily and subconsciously, virtually in any moment of our sane life. Above that, we seem to have a powerful, innate gift of inventing new images whenever we need their assistance. Hence – for example – our language, both informal and literary, just buzzes with witty, ingenious metaphors, similes, figures of speech and so on… To say nothing about visual arts, international codes of signs (ie. road signs) and advertising or printing/illustrating industry, where one can experience whole systems and independent worlds of images being born almost each day…

A human world without an Image? Just i m a g i n e – would you be able at all?

And how about the same reality overflowed with imaginary – very often strong, contrasting and having a profound influence on people’ minds? The reality of today and tomorrow, the post-post-modern…maybe simply new-modern, or non-modern at all? As a matter of fact, contemporary philosophical thought claims that an Image-in-an-extreme-excess has killed the reality (look at Baudrillard’s theory) taking its place. And because of the serious surplus of the pictorial orgy behind which there is no actual value or existence – the Image of today lacks authentic significance and sense. It exists as the Hyper-reality, the Great Illusion. Just think: mass-media pictorial messages, commercials, virtual world of the Web – extremely busy and alive but…would you sacrifice your life for it?…

But we still put confidence in, at least, a possibility of real meaning – don’t we? Otherwise – we would bury art, we would discharge all artists and sent them away just like Plato did creating his perfect Republic without any deceivers

In my personal case, I’ve started to believe in an Image and its power again when becoming fascinated with the history of photography. There is an undeniable truth-presenting quality in most of great photos. They froze time, space and substance, they usually don’t lie (I mean mostly professional, film photography – the digital imaginary has to be trusted on different standards). If there is any illusion or deception suspected it’s perhaps due the biased interpretation. On the other hand – mystery and ambiguity feel quite at home here, so over-simplified reception is not recommended either.

Andre Kertesz’s famous photo (Meudon, 1928 – left) captures well that elusive genius of photography. It reveals as much as it conceals. Who is that man? What is his story? He is looking straight at us – does he want to tell us something? And what is he carrying? From where and what for? Is this package a symbol of a photo in itself? How meaningful is the passing train in this very context? Is it maybe the ever-flying time captured in a split of a second?

One can ask but there will never be a definite answer to those questions. So, on the one hand we have a quite ordinary and unpretentious, caught from life scene from a quiet town: on the other – a puzzle stimulating a dialog with itself.

Jonas Bendiksen’s 200o image (left) has been mesmerizing me for weeks as for now. Each time I’m showing it to somebody, there are questions: Is it real? Is it from a fantasy movie?

Yes, it is as real as the view from your window. And yet, it sparks imagination more than many contemporary artworks on canvas. All we can be sure is that it’s been captured somewhere in Russia. And again, the questions-game begins: Who are those people? What are they doing there? And what, on Earth, is it – that steel structure… fallen satellite, a space-object? What about that fluffy white rain – it’s even more confusing… Butterflies? Snow? Heads of dandelions? And be confident – there are no absolutely correct and totally wrong answers…

Beautiful, beautiful image.

If art is dying as some of thoughtful ones claim for years – photography – being an art in itself – lives its own independent, powerful life. And it will as long as there’s a demand for proving wrong all those bored to death (and to cynicism) with the real world around us.




About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

2 responses to “The power of an Image

  • amateurish

    I love the first photo you have on here – Meudon. I love that while the man takes up so little space in the frame, he captures the attention of the onlooker. It reminds me of a photo I took in NYC. It was December and snowing and a man handing out flyers had on only a pair of cut denim shorts and boots. I took a shot of him and noticed afterward that one of the women passing by was looking at me. She has this arresting gaze that completely overshadows the half naked man who was the original focus.

  • skonieczna

    Thanks for your visit and for the comment. I would like to see your photo, could you possibly send me a link to it? Thanks.

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