Drawing with Light
This series is inspired by the writing of literary theorist, philosopher, and semiotician Roland Barthes. In his work, Barthes applies the principles of semiotics to photography, a medium he believes can be analyzed as a visual language. The field of semiotics is a branch of linguistics concerned with meaning construction in a language system. A concept from semiotics that I apply to my work is that of codes. In a language, a code is anything that anchors a meaning to a symbol. In the written language, text itself acts as a code.
A visual language, however, is more nuanced in meaning construction. The codes present in a photograph exist in the relationship between the referents of a photograph. I consider my work an experiment for I am interested in what happens when there is an elimination of code and referent. I want to divorce the subject from the photograph, opening the interpretation of meaning to a Kandinsky-like state of free association and pure thought.
To accomplish this, I decided to make light itself my subject. Why light For a photograph to exist, light is necessary. Light must be present to reflect off of a physical object, and then that light must enter into the camera’s lens to create an index, or an imprint of the scene being recorded. In this way, light is only being used as a tool, a means to photograph. We are using light to take an image, but not recognizing the vitality of light itself in the image making process. If a photograph cannot exist without light, then what is the photograph in its essence? Is it light? Is it the referent? Is it a language? Is it an object or is it an idea?
Looking back to linguistics, the Greek roots of the word photography stems from the words “photo” meaning light and “graphé” meaning “drawing”. Therefore, photography is, in its essence, is drawing with light.
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