The Edinburgh Fringe – My thoughts on an image

The Edinburgh Fringe - My thoughts on an image

“When we define the Photograph as a motionless image, this does not mean only that the figures it represents do not move; it means that they do not (i)emerge(i), do not (i)leave(i): they are anesthetized and fastened down, like butterflies.”

What strikes me about this quote from Barthes is the meaning it’s fastens to a given photograph. One image could be insignificant to the beholder, such as the photo I have posted above, or it could signify a particular moment in a person’s life, that is anything but insignificant.

I have chosen to talk about this photo for a couple of reasons; i) because of the camera who shot this image and who it ‘belongs’ to. ii) because of the moment that was captured by the camera and what it means to the people who are ‘anaesthetized’ in it.

In the first instance, this photograph was taken by a passer by, who spotted the group that I was performing with on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and took a quick picture to add to their collection of images of different street performances, of which we were one of many. In the collection of photos that this person posted, this image would appear normal to anyone browsing an album which documented the Edinburgh Fringe.

However, for the group of people who are fastened down in this moment it has the significance of a whole summer and captures the group mid performance, with myself, (unfortunately) in the centre of the frame. It symbolises a daily routine that saw us perfom to thousands of people who merely saunter past without noticing. As the image captures our group as its focus, it almost seems as if we are the only ones in Edinburgh and the enjoyment between the group would suggest this also.

This particular photo almost portrays us a still bodies, as if waxwork performers (we are caught mid performance) and the people that take the image taking the part of tourists, being a part of this pilgrimage to Edinburgh at this time of year. The sun baking down on us, capturing our shadows on the cobbled floor backs up this effect, and the backdrop of the Scottish stonework places us in the history of this great city.

Obviously my thoughts on this image are mixed, and I cannot help but be cynical of the photographer who captured just a brief glimpse of what this performance meant. However this what I see photography to be, an image that seems appealing to someone has a far deeper meaning to someone else. It comforts me that Barthes argues the objects of the photo do not leave, and that we have been captured in a moment of beautiful history, but my head tells me that in this photo, we, nor the meaning of this moment, emerge to an onlooker of this collection.

For me, the use of this photo means a certain loss of ‘aura’.

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