“The Ontology of the Photographic Image” examines how the plastic arts preserve humans and reality through representation. Photography. In a series of articles I will explore Bazin’s essays. The first article will be: The Ontology of the Photographic Image. If the plastic arts were put. The Last Things before the Last (). The Ontology of the Photographic. Image . Andre Bazin. If the plastic arts were put under psychoanalysis, the practice of.

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Andre Bazin is undoubtedly a famous figure in film criticism and film theory. The first article will be:. The Ontology of the Photographic Image 1. 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 thf world they live in. The cart refers back to the painter and his paint. No matter how skilful the painter, his work was always in fee to an inescapable subjectivity.

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

Photography affects us like a phenomenon in nature, like a flower or a snowflake whose vegetable or earthly origins are an inseparable part of their beauty. Photography, according to Bazin, evaporates the human touch: Bazin also believes that, because of the technical and scientific method of photography, the aesthetic experience derived is much more in-line with personal perception.


Photography and cinema replicates the physically real without the barrier that one encounters when admiring a painting or sculpture. It should be noted however that Bazin invests far too much faith in the technical process of developing film as an objective and not subjective process. With the birth otnology photography came the birth of photo modification and editing and films such as The Cabinet of Dr.

Caligari show this trend with certain scenes being coloured differently. I think Bazin, even if he accepted that film is often modified, would argue that the best cinema would attempt to capture reality as it is. Bazin may have argued, however, that the counter-position — that photography is not objective — incorrectly translates his proper position.

Bazin uses the French word objectif, which means the lens of a camera, and overtly, in the French text, plays on this meaning. However I believe that this point is too harsh.

And Bazin believes that this reproduction is treated, commonly, as if it is the object.

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

Only the impassive lens, stripping its object of all those ways of seeing it, those piled-up preconceptions, that spiritual dust and grime with which my eyes have covered it, is able to present it in all its virginal purity to my attention and consequently to my love. To Bazin photography makes photogrsphic see the world anew. Realism strips bare those preconceptions which, to Bazin, we accumulate through the passage of time like dust settling on furniture.

Therefore to Bazin photography and Cinema, in the realist style, is a gust of wind which blows away the dust that settles on our way of seeing. University of California Press Ltd,pp.

South Yorkshire England View all posts by A. In this sense, a photograph is no more real than a painting or sculpture. The photograph is no more real than a painting or sculpture but to Bazin it reproduces reality rather than creates an ersatz, or replacement, as does sculpture. However I would agree with your statement: Distinguishing between photography and the traditional plastic arts, sculpture and painting, by positing that photography is a reproduction and not an ersatz fails; photography — as we have both come to the position — is both a replacement and a reproduction of reality.


Another point of difficulty Bazin encounters is that of a causal link. Bazin argues that painting shows a human touch unseen in photography.

Back to Bazin Part 1: The Ontology of the Photographic Image

However the mechanical process of photography was produced by the human hand bazim could be seen as an extension of the human touch — the human touch made mechanical. Reblogged this on lf.

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André Bazin, “The Ontology of the Photographic Image” () – Jamie L. Brummitt, PhD

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