Photography seems to be a highly mysterious method of formalization. Its meaning is comparable to the meaning of language the causative power (1) of which was recognized by man a few thousand years ago (2). Language with its abstract models corresponds to the structure of the human brain: the model image of the world as described by language is not homeomorphic in relation to the real world as described by scientific investigation (3). Anyway, the veracity of a science based on empiricism is a fallacious illusion for its cumulative character presupposes incompleteness of actual cognition. Any moment of cognition is the starting-point both of a question and an attempt at answering it, and consequently natural science is but an illustration of the proverb: „the more you learn the less you know”. It was to the limitations of dialectic and empiric cognition that Wittgenstein (4) was referring when he said, „we can’t talk about that which we can’t think of’.
The reality of photography as a dual entity belonging both in the class of real objects and in the class of abstract „names” or signs should be considered from several points of view.
Firstly, a photography is produced by dint of a technical process beyond the control of the photographer, the result being a flat notation of a concrete optical situation. In classical photography, it is always produced according to a central projection (perspective), in holography, according to a notation of a light wavefront.
The mechanism of its coming into being corresponds to the mechanism of an optical image being produced on the retina. This correspondence between retina image and picture image militates in favour of a conclusion that this is what argues the veracity of photography.
Secondly, photography is in itself a nondescript code registering a concrete spatial situation on a surface. Of course, this situation is not only recorded in a photograph but also in the perceptive apparatus of the viewer who, looking at a flat photograph, sees it as a realistic notation of the spatial world. Thus photograph which is viewed returns again as a code to the viewer’s optic apparatus (eye and brain) where it is decoded as a „veracious” notation of reality (5). Of course, its veracity need not be founded on a central projection (perspective) (6), but may be a result of extra-visual experiences or certain behaviourist habits. Admittedly it is necessary to be acquainted with the notion of right angle and its perspective deformation to see photography as a code.
Consequently photography, though seemingly reflective, has none of the characteristics of a mimetic imitation of nature. In this connection it can be stated that photography constitutes a particular type of cognition. Though a photographic-optical process is necessary for its coming into being, its phenomenon is based on the autonomy and self-definition of photography. Though multiplications and constant coming into being, it creates a new iconospheric world which has nothing in common with the real world. What is more, there are theoretical formulations (7) arguing that photographic reality is similar to the reality created by language. Consequently, photography is not a record of the reality, but a ,,real” meta-reality in which can exist such records as cannot exist as real entities in the real world though they can be seen because photography presents their true aspect and so they are conceivable since they must be acknowledged as isomorphic visual and mental notation. Therefore I make „artificial photography” which truthfully and authentically registers „reality” which is artificial for it does not exist, or cannot exist, in normal, empirically verifiable reality.
There exist, however, documents of this artificial ,,reality” which demand that we look on photography as a mirror showing us in several dimensions and beyond real time (8).
Any what most important, this metaphysical photographic record is internally coherent for if questioned it, we would have to negative not only our visual apparatus of perception, but the very fact of our existence.
5 Aprill 1977
(1) The Gospel according to St. John — Prologue 1,2,3,4.
(2) Genesis 1,3. (3) E. Husserl — Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und Phanomenologische Philosophie — 1913.
(4) L. Wittgenstein — Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
(5) H. Helmholtz — Physiological Optics — Theory of Efflux.
(6) J. Gibson — The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems — 1968.
(7) A. Lachowicz — LESSON — The world generated by photography exists beyond the reality recorded by photography — 1976.
(8) L. Borges — Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius — 1940.
Translated by Henryk Holzhausen