elizabethmoran.studio [at] gmail [dot] com
- 09.15.2014 / Watch Elizabeth Moran Present at Annual VCS Symposium
- 09.02.2014 / Elizabeth Moran Featured in Wired Magazine
- 8.25.2014 / Sightlines Essays from VCS Class of 2014 Now Available
- 06.15.2014 / Photography of Elizabeth Moran in New York Times
The Photograph as Evidence: Contingencies of Meaning and Mattering
Within scientific experiments, the act of observation marks a moment of production: physicist Niels Bohr proved in the early twentieth century that the nature of light is existentially dependent on the contingencies of the experiment itself. Could the act of viewing photographic evidence be equally productive? Could the subject found in photographic evidence be as indeterminate and existentially dependent as light? Physicist and theorist Karen Barad has looked to Bohr’s experiments with light as a model for her theory of agential realism. Agential realism accounts for inherent indeterminacy (like the nature of light) in everything providing a new lens to observe how meaning comes to matter. Echoing Barad’s approach to Bohr’s revelation, I propose that the simple act of viewing photographic evidence matters, or materializes, a photographic subject.
Through analyses of the work of Spiritualist Édouard Isidore Buguet, scientist Jakob Ottonowitsch, and artists Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan, I argue that the subjects of their photographs only exist within the act of viewing the image. If the nature of light reflects the contingencies of the experiment, photographic evidence is evidence of nothing but contingencies within the act of viewing a photographic image.