Friday, May 13, 2005


I have been thinking about synchronicity - how things in our lives that seem to be disconnected come together and make things clearer. I am an avid reader and recently read "Three Farmers on their Way to a Dance" by Richard Powers. Written in 1985, it is a story woven around a photograph taken in 1914. So much in there resonated with the reading and workshops I have done on digital storytelling. Syncronicity - choosing this book to read. For beginners in digital storytelling, I have suggested using photographs rather than shooting video. Powers, via his characters examines the effect of photographs on the viewer and the effect the viewer has on the photograph.

He writes about how photography gave a person the possibility " of being subject, audience and - by commisioning, posing and selecting the final work - auteur."

He also writes of how images take on a life of their own. "The strange persuasion of photographs rests on selective accuracy wedded to selective distortion.The reproduction must be enough like the original to start a string of associations in the viewer but enough unlike the original to leave the viewer room to flesh out and furnish the frame with belief. "

Another quote I really liked. ..."composition, vision, and decision are precisely the skills any intelligent viewer uses when standing in front of and appraising a finished picture. The process of making the thing becomes qualitatively indistinguishable form that of appreciating it."
The reader brings him/herself to the image. This is true of all texts (images, film, words..)

Powers talks of the interplay of image and viewer. " Every mechanical landscape, interior, or portrait comes to the viewer over time, a memory posted forward from the instant of the shutter waiting to come into conjunction with the instant of viewing. Noticing the image, observing it at once implicates the viewer as a paartner in that memory. Looking at the photo, we act out and replay, to a copied phantim, parallels of the very decisions and criticisms of the photographer. We ask "Who would I have to be, what would I have to believe in to have wanted to preserve this instant?"

Interesting ideas to think about as we create our digital stories. I also wonder what Powers would write in light of the use of digital cameras and the way we can manipulate reality. Automatic cameras democratized the process of picture taking. Digital cameras can turn us all into artists. Photography can affect the way we see. Our choice of photographs directs how we tell our stories.

Enough rambling.... The book is worth a read.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recommendation, Susan. I don't think my normal travels would have brought that book to my attention but now with the wonderful world of the internet, anything is possible.

    As you continue to explore blogs and blogging, I would recommend checking out

    It is a joint venture I have with another blogger (Troy Worman) and we tend to find things to introduce to other via this blog.

    As you have an education background, you would be interested in the Hobopoet (AJ Hoge). I posted about AJ here: His blog can also take you to places previously unknown...