UNDERSTANDING PHOTO MANIPULATION IN THE POSTHUMAN ERA THROUGH TATTOOS, PIERCING AND BODY MODIFICATION.

Introduction

PICTORGAPHY Images above and below were gotten from this site: http://acidcow.com/pics/20100129/weirdest_face_piercings_09.jpg

Background
“We have entered the digital age and the digital age has entered us” (Ritchin 2009: 9). This statement is of negation and affirmation on the value of photographs, but a basic perspective to it is of modification – the current change from analogue photography to digital photography, which for David Campbell (2015) is manipulation with an exact interest to elevate the potential values of photography rather than settle on the negative perspective projected (2015).
This short reflection on pictures of tattoos and pierced body is aimed at complementing the significance of manipulation in photography. Though the lens of post humanism, globalisation, postmodernity, popular culture, focusing events, critical discourse analysis enhances a clear perspective to manipulation as a theory of value in photography and after photography.

Photography like cultures and traditions has metamorphosed from analogue, (for culture, crude or ancient) to digital (modern, postmodern). These systematic and technical changes have influenced human social behaviour and responses to reality. David Campbell (2015) says, ‘the change involves understanding the integrity of philosophical status as an object. We need to focus on the process of photography rather than just its products, and consider the issue in terms of what images do rather than hat images are (2015: 4). Campbell emphasizes on value of these images as against beings products of possession.

Through this perspective, we ask questions like; why do people pierce, tattoo or indulge in any sort of body modification? What is the cultural significance, language and how can it be understood? At best the semiotic language exports of tattoos and piercing can find meanings in the works of Umberto Eco, Semiotics and the Philosophy of language, 1984 and in Raymond Williams Communications 1969 that can be understood in different ways especially through symbols employed to interpret tattoos, piercing (Abbott 1998; features of popular culture according to James lull in communication, culture and Media 2000) and the medium to communicate this through photographs, images and pictures like these ones below not only present the piercings and the tattoos but display their meanings:

PICTOGRAPHY: Ancient Pictures and their Meanings:

A Tamil man in a religious procession with a trident piercing his cheeks. Originally posted to Flickr as piercing. Continent: Asia. A Mursi woman of Ethiopia. Continent: Africa. Flickr, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Murzi2.jp
Contemporary Images of Tattoos and Piercings

(Though my sources and authors of these images are not sophisticated but they are still accessible on the internet. All images were gotten on the 10th of March, 2015 from varying sources online).

The images above should speak loudly of their varying origins and periodic impacts. They symbolic references of how photography impacts on time, space, culture and thoughts man, how it shapes reality and how it gives birth to contemporariness by telling stories. These several body modifications are popular in various cultures and traditions
Now beyond the images or photographs being images or products of possession as David, C. puts it, Fred Ritchin (2009) quotes Marshal McLuhan in his book After photography saying, ‘the moment of the meeting of media is a moment of freedom and release…(McLuhan Understanding Media (1964) in Ritchin 2009: 141) – Fred would write also, that, ‘eventually, digital photography’s relationship to space, to time, to light, to authorship, to other media will make it clear that it represents an essentially different approach than does analogue photography …to a large extent this emerging cluster of strategies will be forever linked with others (social, economic, political, religious etc. values) as a component in the interactive, networked interplay of a larger reality and meta – media’ (Ritchin 2009: 141).

For Steve Meyes, photography filled – in where words failed, it’s a bridge between the knowledge gained and the audience and importantly, the format of traditional photojournalism limits the communication, (Meyes #Phonar 2015). The entirety of Steve Meyes arguments and the dreams of Tim Hetherington essentially emphasis the significance of Post – photography with no regret to technological advancement, in fact, the digital age is suitable to be part of as the wind of change supports the institutionalisation of new ideas, new images, new theories and put the digital potentials and values of photographs to enhance curation and archival prowess that there can be.
This reflection demonstrates how the theory of focusing events emphasises the fact of newness in theory and practice after certain changes or occurrences by which issues (photography) gain greater mass and elite attention (Birkland 1997: 3), purposefully to appreciate or add value to images and circumstantial reality.

According to Heraclitus (500 B.C.E.), ‘all things are in a constant state of flux’ (Graham in IEP), reliant on this fact, photojournalists flowed with renaissance by expanding in both technical and conceptual strategies…today, postproduction transformation of the image is considerably stronger in the digital realm (Ritchin 2013: 47 – 49), where this principles of manipulation as compared to body modification have certain underlined sublime values it communicates to its audience.
Hence this transformation in post – photography is of choice that might represent reality in a partial manner either aesthetically or politically (Campbell 2015: 2 – 3). The subjectivity of the process of interpreting images demonstrates its value. It is in this light that the images used in this reflection tell a story of the culture of tattoos, piercings and many other forms of body modifications as a tale of values (economic, political, sociocultural, belief systems) that are typical contemporary discourses of Globalisation, Post – humanism in terms of cultural changes, postmodernity as regards identity and the soci0 – political enhancement that constitute critical discourse analysis of Norman Fairclough (McLuhan 2001, Fairclough 2010, Haney 11 2005). The eclectic understandings in the images express the values, Meta – photography (Ritchin 2013, Campbell 2015, Meyes 2015).

In conclusion, this reflection thinks that to remain engraved on the despair of digitization of photographs as perceived by Ritchin and others is to celebrate the recessive accentuations of social ideologists like Zygmund Bauman in Liquid Modernity (2000), the biotechnological hypothesis of post – humanists and the socially constructed fate of the technological determinists. Instead, in spite of these present social ideological and pragmatic scholarly representation of both man and the world, it will behove me to say, a persistent objective targeted at preservation, reproduction, curation and a neoliberal representation of images, the transition of photography will be ideological and practical in meaning understood as ‘social progress’. This transition is clearly demonstrated in the critical discourse analysis of Norman Fairclough as he opines that purpose is to revolve around socio-political change – an objective of the public interest (the audience) phenomenon (Fairclough 2010).

References:
Abbott, D. (1998) Culture and Identity UK: Hodder & Stoughton
Bauman, Z. (2000) Liquid Modernity US: Polity Press.
Birkland, T. (1997) After Disaster: Agenda Setting, Public Policy and Focusing Events George University Press: Washington, D. C.
Campbell, D. (2015) Why Does Manipulation Matter? [Online] available from < https://www.david-campbell.org/?s=why+does+manipulation+matter > [30/03/2015]
Fairclough, N. (2010) Critical Discourse Analysis: A Critical Study of Language 2nd edn London & New York: Routledge.
Graham, D. W. (1995) On Heraclitus – Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy [online] available from < http://www.iep.utm.edu/heraclit/ > [30/03/2015]
Lull, J. (2000) Media, Communication, Culture: A Global Approach 2nd edn UK: Polity Press.
MCLuhan, M. (2001) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man London: Routledge.
Meyes, S. (2015) An Interview on Tim Hetherington [online] available from http://maphotography.info/ [20/3/2015].
Ritchin, F. (2009) After Photography New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Ritchin, F. (2013) Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary and the Citizens USA: Lesley A. Martin.
Williams, R. (1969) Communications Great Britain: Westerham Press Ltd.
Worth, J. (2015) Lectures on Post – Photography #Phonar Nation

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