ONLINE DOSSIER: JOHN SULER AND RICHARD ZAKIA »PERCEPTION AND IMAGING: PHOTOGRAPHY AS A WAY OF SEEING«
Suler, John and Richard D. Zakia. Perception and Imaging: Photography as a Way of Seeing. 5th ed. Vol. 1. Milton: Routledge. 2018.
»Seeing or photographing objects as if they possessed a spirit or soul, similar to humans, is a type of animism.« (p.224)
»Whether one believes in animism or not, the important issue is the relationship that photographers establish with whatever they are photographing, be it a person, a tree, a stone, a landscape, a flower, or anything. How do they relate to the form of that subject, as well as to the essence represented by that form?
At least three different approaches are possible. The first is called projection; the photographer projects onto the object what they feel and think at the time. If the photographer sees the form of the tree as the essence of standing tall and proud, then the photographer attempts to capture that feeling. The next approach is introjection. Here the photographer spends time studying the tree in a quiet way, attempting to “listen” to what the essence of the tree’s form has to reveal. The photographer then tries to photograph that form. The third approach, confluence, is a highly meditative one in which the tree and the photographer become as one form, sharing the same essence, with the photograph revealing that intimate relationship (Figure 8.2).« (p.224–225)
»The prefix anthro, from the Greek anthropos, means “man.” Anthropomorphic refers to objects that can take on a human form.« (p.228)
»”It can be argued and has been argued, that we respond with particular readiness to certain configurations of biological significance for our survival. The recognition of the human face, in this argument, is not wholly learned. It is based on some kind of inborn disposition. Whenever anything remotely face-like enters our field of vision, we are alerted and respond.“« (p.228)
E. H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969, p.103.
»[…] there is still a wonderful sense of discovery in locating actual objects in the environment that exhibit human qualities and then capturing those images with finesse. It is as if, through animism, the world is attempting to speak to us through human-like forms.« (p.229)
»We can think of photography as satisfying this need for discovery, searching for something to photograph that is hidden in the environment so we can reveal it in an image. Many activities in life are like hide-and-seek; shopping, sightseeing, looking for knowledge in books and libraries. Searching for something “hidden” is an archetypal pursuit that everyone understands.« (p.253)