Defence in the field of Photography: MA Ismo Luukkonen
The dissertation is artistic research into the relationship between a photograph and time. Photographing of prehistoric objects in landscape are used to examine the temporality of photography.
MA Ismo Luukkonen will defend his dissertation Valokuvan ajallisuus. Maiseman kerrostumista ajan kokemukseen (Temporality of a photograph. From the layers of a landscape to the experience of time.) on Friday 3 November 2017.
Opponent: Doctor of Fine Arts Jan Kaila, University of the Arts Helsinki
Custos: prof. Merja Salo, Aalto University Department of Media
The discussion will be in Finnish.
The temporality of a photograph (from the layers of a landscape to the experience of time) is artistic research into the relationship between a photograph and time. The prehistoric objects in a landscape, the temporal layers of the landscape and the way the temporality of the landscape is represented in photographs are the starting points of the research. They led me to the key issue: the temporality of a photograph. My question is how time appears in photographs.
The structure of the research is dialogic. There are pictorial chapters beside written ones. The photographs are the results of my artistic work in the years 2000–2017, concerning prehistoric remains in the landscape and the temporality of a photograph. In my photographic work, my aim has been to examine subjects using different approaches. This is also visible in the appearances of the images. My photographic work has been concurrent with the theoretical research, and the two ways of working have affected each other. The way of thinking is different, but the subject is shared.
A photograph can be seen as a trace of reality or as a pictorial interpretation of reality. These two approaches appear both in the written text and in the pictorial chapters. When a photograph is thought of as a trace of reality, its temporality is based on the temporality of the subject, such as the temporal layers of a landscape and their representation in a photograph. To be able to recognise the temporality in the photograph, one must understand the temporality of the subject. However, the photograph as a trace also ties the photograph to time in another way. The photographed moment is a point in time, in the receding past. The gone moment of the photograph becomes visible, for example, if the photograph is compared to another photograph (of the same subject) or to the subject itself.
When I look at a photograph as a pictorial interpretation of reality, the temporal meanings also depend on the choices the photographer makes. As a photographer, I can decide how time leaves its mark on the surface of the photograph. The temporality can be emphasised by special techniques. A long exposure, for example, has an effect on the visuality of the photograph, and it can lead the viewer to temporal interpretations.
The photograph is, however, ambiguous. It can be studied from different viewpoints and using different approaches. The interpretation does not always stay within the frame that the photographer has suggested. The meanings depend on the way the viewer confronts the photograph. They are affected by the appearance of the photograph and the personality of the viewer, but also by the context of the photograph: where it is shown and what other pictures or texts are present. The context can be used to suggest temporal interpretations.
The photograph also has a temporality of its own. It is an object that ages like any object does, but even more essentially, temporality is felt in the distance between the moment when the photograph was taken and the moment when it is viewed. A photograph is always seen afterwards. It is inevitably bound to the past, and the awareness of this affects the way the photograph is viewed. A photograph is a remnant of a momentary incident.
The dissertation notice and the published dissertation are placed for public display at the Learning Hub Arabia (Hämeentie 135 C, 5th floor, room 570), at latest 10 days before the defence date.