Masato Hase
Ciba Univ.

#4 Holy Relics

Andre Bazan, a young figure nurtured by Noel Vaag,a film critique and also his kind of father figure wrote a very interesting essay on photographs in 1945. Actually the published title was that borrowed of Bazan's essay title "Photograph Image Ontology"(films are something II, Art Publishing Press. So it is probably necessary to touch on Bazan's essay at least once.

Bazan left off this essay and concentrated on the technique specialty of 'photographs' on the 'absence of people'. That is to say that the technique ofpictures and sculptures are for some meaning all based on the artificially creation of the technician's 'will of expression'. So we could say that thisis the creation of the person's 'automatic figure'. Of course the cameramancan take photos where he wants to take them and stop the frame in what anglehe wants, but this is the only real control he has. Because the only thing to do is leave it up to nature to deal with what is in the frame, and the only thing the camera can do is to defend the light rays as they passively approach the individual. For example when photographing a city spectacle, thereis nothing that the cameraman can control when trying to fit it in to a photograph. If the photographer portrays the same town spectacle, he can expressthe world of his individuality when he chooses something to focus on withinwhat he can see. However Bazan talks of the 'natural phenomenum' rather thanthe photograph's artificial 'technical work' (page 20).

The photograph is like flowers and snow crystallation....that kind of beautycan not be separated from the likes of a plant or the mother earth....we work around the 'natural phenomenum'.

So we can say that photographs are actually like the crystallation of light.And probably our surprise at the brightness of that sparkling crystallationis very much like that of the sensitivity from some photos that reaches around us. So, wouldn't you say the body of the photograph is similar to the 'truth'. There is probably times when the focus is blurred, the shapes distorted, the colours changed and there is no materialism of the photo left, but thinking about the processes from its beginning (page 22), these kind of photos which are not similar to the truth are all labelled photographs.

Apart from the standard photographs which are similar in showing the reality(realism), the photos which candidly show the essential qualities have a 'sense of contact'. Sometimes when aiming the camera the photograph's determined qualities of the crystallised lightrays that 'come in contact' with the face of the photo of are made to be exposed. So for example, the works of thephotographers of the 1970's (Nakadaira Takuma, Moriyama Daido etc.) which were purposely blurred and distorted, were taken in pursueing the quality of the 'sense of contact'. It wasn't just the reason of trying a new potential in photography for them but, it was the tried it for the reason of reducing the pure fundamentals of the photograph's basic essentials.

With Bazan's diagnosis, in the same way as 'the bright room''s Loren Balt, the photo finally found its way to 'the sense of contact'. And also in the same way, we have the case of not being able to touch the 'spirituality' and the 'divine nature' of some kind.Now when I look, I remember looking at Balt looking at the portrait of his dead mother, and feeling crazed when his eyes reached me. We can't ignore Bazan's 'spirit of the dead' portrait either, because a portrait is like the remains of the dead for us. Because of the light (crystals), it means we can feel the same vivid 'sense of contact' when he is dead as that of when he wasalive. So Bazan says that photos are like the 'traces of God' in Christian religion. Traces of God are the remains of the believer's body..the feet andthe arms when they first believe in God.

He also says that photos are like a momento. Probably what Bazan really wants to say is, we, humans have the desparate mentality of having a photo as one part of his remains. However it's not expected that one thinks a photo ofones parents or lover as a living thing. For example when I look at a memo photo of a group of unknown girl students on a study trip before the war, a bizarre feeling of wanting to cry comes over me. This kind of feeling is probably the above. The fact that the 'remains' of the probably dead girls reaches out and touches me and this really makes me emotional. Like when Balt looks at the picture of his dead mother. So Balt's feelings is not the case ofbecoming emotional over his mother but that the photograph is actually it.

Bazan's photograph diagnosis is actually sharp, but I think the essay's bizzareness is hard to read, because he writes it as the photograph's birth technician. He writes as if people's unconscious hopes are made true by the photo's actual reproduction of the photo's creation as a base. However, likehe says, photographs are like a natural phenomenum in the way that people can not get the portrayed automatic truth. Even though this is the people's actual desire, this is not the desired expression of the technique. This is nothing to do with people nor technique but like the natural phenomenum of the'truth'. But if the photo does have a connection with the technique, it probably involves a paradox, because the camera does not give the photographerscontrol as technicians. The more technical the photo becomes,(I think back to the ugly victorianism), the technique is halted in an instant. If I ever decide to write on photographs as an art, I would have to be able to start from this point of view....