I found a book in the library which offered some interest. L’Autre is a collection of photographs taken on the Paris Metro (underground/subway). The photographer Luc Delahaye states ‘I stole these photographs..’stole’ because it is against the law to take them, it’s forbidden. The law states that everyone owns their own image.’
He photographs the sublime, the distant gaze of people transient in thought, devoid of the surrounds, yet conscious of the journey. In essence the photographs become a passport style montage. The faces are not posed or smile, in fact the subject doesn’t even engage with the photographer (the viewer). He feigns absence in that moment of releasing the shutter. He becomes a sham in his mirroring of the subject, removing him from the creative decision.
All the faces are reproduced in Black and White (photographed from 1995-97) and the crop is very close creating a sense of intimacy that will never evolve.
Jean Baudrillard provides a text at the back of the book – Poetic Transference of Situation. L’Autre isn’t quite present, but what remains of the other when, he the photographer, isn’t there: gazes of people who see nothing. The people cannot be understood, what they may be thinking, their lives, history, journey they are upon. So the question lies can photography record the ‘real’ is it ever possible to capture reality? – ‘pure’ reality, if it exists, remains a question without an answer. What we see in these images is just a moment captured, ‘stolen’ from the subject.
Later Jean discuses the work titled, ‘The Adventure of a Photographer’ by Italo Calvino. Bice, I assume is a woman, Antonnino the Photographer (stated by Calvino) follows her through the street. He keeps his distance using long lenses to capture her.‘The invisible Bice’- Calvino reports;
‘To surprise her as she was in the absence of his gaze, of any gaze. Not that he wanted to discover any particular thing... It was an invisible Bice that he wanted to possess, a Bice absolutely alone, a Bice whose presence presupposed the absence of him and everyone else.’
Antonio the photographer, then contuines over the following days to photograph the studio; Where Bice once was. Where she had been, that no longer signified her, and from what she had been withdrawn from forever. The disappearance of the object in photography has become an almost symbolic murder in the photographic act. The object no longer exists, the subject has gone. A transference of the object, a poetic transference of situation; an invocation to L’Autre to think me, to exist in order to make me exist.
In contemporary Photography the prime medium for this insignificance, L’Ature is stolen captured and taken away, despite it not even being ours to withhold. The raiders and predators, who plunder customs and cultures, stealing from landscapes which they do not even own, unlimited acts of the private exposed in a moment of photographing.
In Delahaye’s collection he does not intend to ‘steal’ or remove from the subject. If anything it makes us question our identity; our ideals, who we are, how we wish to be perceived. Do we wish for anonymity or exposure? The question remains of L’Ature is always evident, it is something we will never comprehend. Through our Aura it will always remain, family albums, photo elicitation evoking memories, providing evidential, tangible judgment of what is missing.