Cet essai de Joan Fontcuberta accompagne le livre « The Pigeon Photographer » (Bolzano, Rorhof, 2017). L’extrait recopié ici provient des pages xxv et xxvi de l’essai.
« And that, surely, is the danger: that as the camera becomes smarter, we become stupider. It is not surprising, then, that strategies of resistance are oriented towards de-technologizing the apparatus, de-automating it. Because the ultimate aim is obvious: to rehumanize the camera. That is why artists never tire of exploring the possibility of a ‘human camera’, rejecting any technological resources and relying solely on one’s own body as the only instrument for taking photographs. As early as the 1970s a movement associated with Arte Povera was preaching the virtues of the ‘poor camera’, encouraging people to go back to using the kind of simple inexpensive cameras originally designed for beginners, as a way of affirming that quality resided in the talent of the photographer, not in the capabilities of the equipment. The same sensibility also revived the primitive pinhole camera. Shoe boxes, drinks cans, cigarette packets and other opaque light-excluding household objects were tried out as impromptu camera obscuras. Jo Babcock turned his camper van into a travelling camera; Steven Pippin and Aditya Mandayam turned the mansion in which they lived into a giant stenopeic camera; Marius Kaiser took advantage of holes in the Berlin Wall, and Wayne Martin Belger converted a Tibetan skull into a camera. The most daring artists made use of the concavities of their own bodies: Paolo Gioli used a closed fist; Thomas Bachler, Jeff Guess, Justin Quinnell and Ann Hamilton their mouths, and MC his vagina [reference note to my book here]. These experiments were inscribed in a dual framework, both formal and conceptual: in formal terms they questioned the foundations of perspective and representation, while on the conceptual level they engaged performatively with political, postcolonial, gender and other issues. More recently the idea of making the body a camera has moved beyond these experiments towards the programmatic threshold of the Human Camera, as posited by – among others – Lindsay Seers [reference note to her book Human Camera here], who recovers the idea of the oral cavity as a camera obscura and the lips as a diaphragm. To make the body a living camera is to seek to look with the whole body, not just with the eyes; it is to let the image be gestated in one’s own organism, with the body itself as the matrix of the image. Seers proposes to free us from the conventions and limitations of the photographic apparatus, restoring a way of seeing that champions the human in the battle of images. »
(c) Joan Fontcuberta.