ANDRE BAZIN THE ONTOLOGY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGE PDF

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He compares this practice to the birth of the plastic arts. He states that there is a basic psychological need in man to outwit time and preserving a bodily appearance is fulfilling this desire. Because, however, pyramids and labyrinths could be pillaged, statuettes were developed as substitute mummies in case anything were to come of the real one.

In the fifteenth century, Western painting turned from a concern with spiritual realities and aesthetics to one in which spiritual expression is combined with an imitation of the outside world that is as close as possible to reality.

This left painting torn between two ambitions—the expression of spiritual reality and symbol and the desire for duplication of the world around us. Bazin continues to explain that the desire to see reality, though it is merely an illusion created via painting, is a mental need and realism in art is caught between the aesthetic and a deception aimed at fooling the eye. This being said, photography and cinema have freed mankind from the obsession of illusion in painting because they themselves satisfy our obsession with realism.

A photograph is of a specific moment in time and a specific place, while art can be of any moment in any place which is why Bazin argues that a painting is more eternal than a photograph. Photography ranks high in the order of surrealist creativity because it produces an image that is a reality of nature, namely, an hallucination that is also a fact.

Thus, as a final blow, Bazin makes the assertion that photography is the most important event in the history of the plastic arts and then leads us into his article on the development of the language of cinema and how we analyze it. Post navigation.

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The ontology of the photographic image

He compares this practice to the birth of the plastic arts. He states that there is a basic psychological need in man to outwit time and preserving a bodily appearance is fulfilling this desire. Because, however, pyramids and labyrinths could be pillaged, statuettes were developed as substitute mummies in case anything were to come of the real one. In the fifteenth century, Western painting turned from a concern with spiritual realities and aesthetics to one in which spiritual expression is combined with an imitation of the outside world that is as close as possible to reality. This left painting torn between two ambitions—the expression of spiritual reality and symbol and the desire for duplication of the world around us. Bazin continues to explain that the desire to see reality, though it is merely an illusion created via painting, is a mental need and realism in art is caught between the aesthetic and a deception aimed at fooling the eye. This being said, photography and cinema have freed mankind from the obsession of illusion in painting because they themselves satisfy our obsession with realism.

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Influential Theorists: Andre Bazin – The Ontology Of The Photographic Image

The process might reveal that at the origin of painting and sculpture there lies a mummy complex. Thus, by providing a defence against the passage of time it satisfied a basic psychological need in man, for death is but the victory of time. To preserve, artificially, his bodily appearance is to snatch it from the flow of time, to stow it away neatly, so to speak, in the hold of life. It was natural, therefore, to keep up appearances in the face of the reality of death by preserving flesh and bone. From statues, palaces, portraits to tombs influential men have commissioned and produced art to represent themselves and the world they live in. The cart refers back to the painter and his paint.

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“Ontology of the Photographic Image” by André Bazin

This is not an unusual claim. However, the reasons Bazin gives for this liberating effect on painting are striking. Photography took the burden of this second task away from painting — not, however, because it was better at showing the world as it is. The precise depictions found in the best oil paintings were superior to the blurred black and white of early photography.

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