Informing Contexts PHO702: Week 2 activity a Question of authenticity

‘In the Photograph, the power of authentication exceeds the power of representation’.

Joel Peter Witkin (2007) Night in a Small Town


Roland Barthes statement that the power of authentication exceeds the power of representation is an interesting statement I believe that Roland is stating that seeing an image gives it a validity a’truth’ regardless of the supporting narrative that allows you to arrive at the actual facts behind the image. The camera is an instrument, not an artist, what it captures is the truth of a situation or environment and before you attach any context or narrative what you see is what you get.

Image result for drowned, crushed, burnt, fell

John Hilliard’s ’cause of death’ is a fantastic example of authentication and representation all four images are authentic and showcase the same scene without the subject being moved, rearranged or any accompanying text to lead the viewer however each of the images is a representation of a different cause of death. Each of the images is also believable in what it represented.

Authentication to me is the reality behind something an image of a man looking at the camera, is just that what it represents is something entirely different. Is it a passport photo? Is it a mug shot? A family portrait? A selfie? The depiction of each subject and the context in which it is used alters how that image is interpreted by the person looking at it.

I agree with Roland Barthes statement as in most circumstances imagery is and authenticity is dictated by context.