Ding an sich…

…the thing in itself.

We`ve all probably watched the scene in the movie The Matrix in which a little boy bends a spoon as he looks to the protagonist and says: there is no spoon.

I am, since Friday, trying to make up my mind about a photographic challenge I heard: take ten pictures of the thing in itself.

Perfect. It`s the opposition of fine art photography, in which the photographer uses a subject to express an idea and/or an intent. It`s like a photographic strip club, where subjects are free from the viewer’s leash, free to roam with no meanings attached other than its own existence. You just frame the thing for what it is and press the shutter.

Is that a possibility?

It`s curious as prosaic themes originating from art tickles really complex discussions like this one in philosophy. I`m sure the proponent of the challenge had no clue this matter originated near 400 B.C when Plato described the “material world” (the one we live in) and the “real world” (where the perfect ideas of reality exists). According to Plato, our world is a mere reflection of the “real” world, where the perfect rational knowledge resides. Since then, the separation of the nomenoun (the thing in itself) and the phenomenon (the thing as we see it) is in dispute. It`s pretty curious once we make the simple exercise of trying to photograph (or, see, if you prefer it) something in its nomenoun state.

It`s simply not possible.

Every time we frame a subject, we are framing our subject, as we see it. Every snapshot is an opinion and there appears to be no exceptions to this rule. If we push it a bit harder (not forcing the gates into the realms of philosophy), we arrive to the conclusion that there is no subject, but only its interpretation. No strip club of naked subjects, as once we strip`em down we find out that the clothes we gave them were our only way to see them.

Framing the reflection of what they are is the only way to make them exist in our world.


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