I learned about the existence of this essay from a text-book I read a few weeks ago (Reading Photographs by AVA Publications) whilst on holiday and thought it useful to get a copy and read it for myself.
Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema by Laura Mulvey has only recently been published as a book accompanied by an illustrated essay by Rachel Rose. This essay has apparently been very influential in the world of cinema since it’s first publication in ‘Screen’ 1975. So I thought it important to read it.
The essay discusses a similar argument to John Berger in his famous ‘The Way of Seeing’ regarding how woman have been used in the arts and media as sexual voyeuristic objects. that employed and seen on the movie screen. Mulvey goes on to argue that women on the cinema screen represent castration due to their lack of the male sexual organ and also objects of desire by way of their glamour. Mulvey suggests that the audience is encouraged to become voyeurs by the the theater that puts them in the dark; so that they can feel that they can look in private. She also goes on to consider the ideas of voyeurism that she believes has been explored by the great Hollywood Directors, Sternberg and Hitchcock, in their movies, Morocco and Dishonored by Sternberg and ‘Vertigo’, ‘Rear Window’ and ‘Marnie’. Much of Mulvey’s essay is now regarded as out of date regarding how women are now portrayed in modern films (by Mulvey’s own admission as a footnote).
A small book of about only 30 readable pages, interesting and I am sure that if I didn’t read it now I would find myself reading it later in my degree course.
I have been reading this book whilst on holiday, in preparation for my next assignment, Reading Photographs, An Introduction to the Theory and Meaning of Images, by Richard Salkeld, published by Bloomsbury. This is part of a set of about x10 text-books that are very good and this appears to be last last one of the series for photography that I hadn’t read.
This book is divided in to 6 chapters covering the following topics:
What is a Photograph – Briefly covers the history from invention and marriage of chemistry and optics, through to the evolution of photography and its practice. Case-study.
Reading the signs – Briefly covers the theory of meaning, language, semiotics, ideology in an easy to understand way. Case-study.
Truth and Lies – Considers images reflecting truth in what is real, representation and reality, facts and fiction. Case-study.
Identity – Covers people and portraits, signifying identity, looking,the body. Case-study.
Big-Brother – The modern world, the bad, the mad and the other, surveillance society: and Panopticon (originally a 19th century idea to watch prisoners in a specially designed prison). Who is looking at whom? Public spaces – private lives. Case-study.
Aesthetics – Is it Art? What is art? Photography as art the history of an idea, into postmodernism. Case-study.
This is a very good and useful book to read, in fact I read it twice. An easy read and very well illustrated with profiles on key authors for further reading such as Roland Barthes and John Berger to name just a couple. I would strongly recommend this book and I am surprised that it is not listed as either recommended or essential reading for my OCA course covering Context and Narrative.
Yesterday, I did my first model photo-shoot and before my model arrived I set up my equipment and carefully made sure of the setting for camera were correct.
The first thing I discovered was that the idea of using a soft-box for this shoot was impractical as I wasn’t able to be able to position it as I wanted it and it took up too much space and was difficult to move around; so I decided to use an umbrella instead. This was in fact the first time I have used my umbrella and I was pleased with myself that I had both invested in it and had clearly learned enough out of all the books on lighting that I should have instantly turned to it as an alternative solution.
Having set up my light, I then did some light readings with my Sekonic Incident Lightmeter. This suggested a slow shutter speed of only 1/10sec providing 30% flash to ambient combination. My first reaction was too slow what am I doing wrong? It the occurred to me that the reading is taking account that the flash is 1000s of a second and this will freeze the image. To test this I made some photos to satisfy myself, happy with the result I spent the rest of the day working with my camera set to manual and taking reading only from my Sekonic meter. The results were great, all taken at 1/10sec hand held using 24-120mm zoom lens at various focal-lengths. All my images are pin-sharp and the exposures perfect with text-book Histograms.