By the way, who are WE, really?
My point in taking this trip up the E75, as in my work in general, is to reflect upon us as a society. After all, a picture says more than 1,000 words—which is what moved me to become a photographer in the first place. But what does one actually intend to do with his or her photography as such? Every one of us who presses the shutter release faces this question the moment we present a picture in public for the first time. And the camera function on a mobile phone asks us the same thing—after all, Facebook is public. As is the bulletin board in the kitchen or at the office.
You don’t need to provide an explicit answer to the question of “What do I intend with my photography as such?” But you do answer it implicitly with your first post on the Internet, on your bulletin board, or with your first exhibition. So do I want to show that I’ve mastered my camera, that I’m a great photographer? Do I want to show all the things I’m constantly experiencing? Or do I want to show…?
The list of possible approaches goes on forever, and one’s personal answer will include the overlapping of several such possibilities. I, too, answered the question implicitly with my first publications, and I only gradually began to consciously realize just what my approach is. It eventually became clear to me that I have a very good talent for observation. And I’d like to use it to look at us as a society and share my observations with you.
What are the people doing here, on this picture of the pier?
This scene isn’t staged. Strange it may seem, but just as familiar it is. It shows us something about ourselves. It also shows a space that we’ve created. The entire spatiality of this picture, with the exception of the sky, is man-made: the pier, the arrangement of benches, the miniature lighthouse. A lighthouse always stands for orientation, allowing us to cross the seas without running up on the rocks. And we human beings spared no effort in designing a whole system of them, building a thousand and countless thousands of these towers and keeping them running. That’s a statement about ourselves—a statement about what’s important to us, about where we invest our strength and energy. This lighthouse is a manifestation of a societal decision, of a decision by us … just like the pier, the benches, and this entire situation here. All that and more takes place in this picture. Not that I’m conscious of it all at the point in time when I take such a picture, but I do feel how WE are somehow present—and so I press the release. A scene full of idiosyncrasy and matter-of-factness: that’s US.
So on this trip up the E75, I’m once again concerned with reflecting upon us as a society. In lots of respects. Which is why I’m writing about observations here that intersect with such reflection. While picture may say more than 1,000 words, words can describe things that pictures can’t quite capture. So text and image complement one another— yet another reason for this blog.