Been reading Karen Barad’s “Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning”. It’s been a return home of sorts, like relaxing in the comfy chair after a long hike in the wilderness. Her chapter on agential realism elegantly articulates the inter-relationality of the universe, asserting the reality of matter (including us) as a constant state of becoming. There’s a fitting resonance between agential realism and the Vedic practice of transcendental meditation. It's a riveting time to be engaged in the arts with so much convergence happening between traditionally disparate fields of enquiry.
From a photographic perspective agential realism repositions our obsession with the object of our attention, through the lens at least, and brings into the conversation the myriad of materialities which influence how we do what we do. That is to say the intentionality of our expression, the equipment we choose, the conditions surrounding the event, how we engage with the object, the environment we place ourselves in and how we choose to exhibit the work. Expanding our view of what a photograph is and focussing on what governs the making of it in an agential sense renders our isolated obsession with the object immaterial. As it relates to practice the object of attention is no longer just what the lens is seeing, or what consciously prompted us to click the shutter.
Propositionally it also recalibrates our notion of the moment, often wedded to the click of the shutter or the moments of time around it. It’s as if the very mechanics of photography, which have been so for long used to define its unique attributes have overshadowed the very proposition of what photography is or what it can be and how we engage with it. With this in mind, It is suddenly an exciting time to be using a medium whose output so oversaturates our daily experience it has become almost invisible. There may still be a way to render something we've not considered before, ironically by subverting the very act of seeing.
Full credit to Michael Flomen’s Feeder pictured above. Michael has been working for over 20 years without a camera making large photograms and exposing negatives to the bioluminescence of nature. Check out his work at the Ricco Maresca Gallery.