Life in Crime Scene?

Photography has been, and is still, tormented by the ghost of painting…but if photography seems to me closer to the theater [sic], it is by way of a singular intermediary (and perhaps I am the only one who sees it) : by way of Death.’

Digital Camera

In the photograph above, my own photograph, apparently haphazard objects sit as if waiting, as if for my return. The arrangement of objects is like a painted still life but in the nature of the photograph, these ideas are exposed as trickery. Each object in the arrangement signifies whole other worlds of meaning, (not unlike the dead and wilting objects Shelton describes in his fridge) which is made more distinct by monochrome colouration and slight exposure as well as the sharpness that allows for the clear definition of objects. As a whole, these objects that create meaning take on a greater significance that may vary person to person and in a painting may pass without a creeping sense of the uncanny. Here, set up, almost crime scene like, appears to reduce the objects to having a passive and deathly feel. The photograph becomes a kind of ‘tableaux vivant’, its theatre is exposed and it becomes unsettling. In a crime scene photograph, the arrangement appears to be objective but certain viewpoints of the crime scene may be favoured by those prosecuting or defending…

Therefore, as a representation of the real-and the reality of a life, this photograph exposes itself, the photograph appears to be unable to accurately portray anything steadfast. It questions the reality that it attempts to portray, for as Baudrillard considers: ‘For the heavenly fire no longer strikes depraved cities, it is rather the lens which cuts through ordinary reality like a laser, putting it to death.’


Barthes, Roland, Camera Lucida (London: Vintage, 1993), Pp.30-31

Baudrillard, Jean, Simulations (New York;Foreign Agents Series/Semiotext (e),1983),p.51

Benjamin, Walter, ‘Selected Writings: Volume 4, 1938-1940’ (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2003)

Shelton, Allan, ‘The Abduction of Mary Janie’ in Dreamworlds of Alabama (University of Minnesota Press)



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