I was in search for new techniques that would relate more to what I have learned while doing the research for my dissertation/rationale/essay. This is when I read an online essay written by Temenuga Trifonova ”Photography and the Unconscious”.

Second, through its inherent, technical automatism photography revealed at the heart of any photographed movement — not only the movements of those diagnosed with some form of insanity — a similar, previously unsuspected, human automatism.


In The Mechanism of Human Facial Expression (1862) G. B. Duchenne de Boulogne recorded the results of his experiments with ‘localized electrization’, the purpose of which was to ‘decompose’ general facial expressions — the elongated face of the melancholic or the changeful features of the maniac — into the series of particular facial muscles that produced them in the first place.


Every person consists of two personalities, one conscious and one unconscious. Among healthy persons both are alike complete, and both in equilibrium. In the hysteric they are unequal, and out of equilibrium. One of the two personalities, usually the conscious, is incomplete, the other remaining perfect.


Breuer and Freud concluded that pathology results from the compartmentalization of consciousness, part of which continues to exist automatically in the real world (usually performing some kind of mechanical action) while another part becomes dissociated.


The notion of photography as nature’s “spontaneous reproduction,” which translated the medium’s inherent automatism into objectivity, was from the start undermined by the opposite reading of the very same characteristic of the medium — its automatism — as an instance of natural magic.


Photography’s claims to scientific status were based on its promise to capture the instant.However, no one expected that instantaneous photography, which managed to capture fleeting expressions and transient effects of light, would reveal something immobile, dead, and strangely distorted at the very heart of life.


Even though I have listed few of the most inspiring quotes from the article/essay there is a lot more to it.

Why do I find this essay useful for my FMP? First of all, it talks about how photography relates to the automatism and unconscious thinking. In other words, if I would rephrase the whole essay, I can understand that person taking the photo captures the image mechanically, as if your mind would send you a signal that this is the right moment to take the picture. In the end, the picture captures the right type of lighting, shadows, mood and anything in it. The composition as well has been chosen by something deeper in our mind, at this case – the mighty unconscious.

How does this essay help me in my FMP? It gave me the idea of looking into the photography techniques which are called the ”natural magic” (citation from above). The photography techniques use in my final piece will help me to create the composition of the captured – automatic imagery/photographs.

Where did I find the full essay? More information available from: http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=661

An example I have made for this project in order to explain the photography technique as automatism and unconscious art:





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