Life Inside the Image
In Walter Benjamin’s ‘a short history of photography’ he points out that the first daguerreotypes were long exposures and that the sitter and the photographer came together in an encounter of time, a duration shared between them, which could be seen in the image. Together sitter and photographer would show us a subject living into the image. Today sitter and photographer have become the same person. The third person voice of the photographer has become first person.
As such once I feel the lens observing me, everything changes: I instantaneously construct another body to inhabit; I transform myself into an image for consumption, for pleasure. In this image, I am the object and its double. I narrate myself. I arouse myself. I become myself in the image.
I use the tropes of the pose as a kind of carnival to myself, of myself, for myself, to supersede any possible other definition of me. And so I live into myself into the image.
With the increased speed of lenses and film emulsions Benjamin believed that this new instant image cut us off from that which it was to represent. The image now would simply point to itself, not something we could sense as a slowly evolving experience.
But perhaps this has changed once again in network culture. Perhaps this odd contraction between the positivism of the photograph as data and material fact, and its unreality, inherent to the photographic, brings us once again to a living into the image.
As we have become the spectacle of each other it would be easy to argue that we don’t live into the image, we live to be imaged or that simply we live to image
In this image I present to the network there is the possibility of another self, an impossible self, an unbounded self. Not the heralded self of authenticity but something more. Though the networked image presents us at a remove, these are extraordinarily intimate zones of a visceral immediacy.
Our self now an image, material even if seemingly immaterial, doubles and puts forward a new self—the self whose desire is to “be,” to “see,” and to “be seen” as a long exposure of a our life now inside the image.