The Role of Real – Day Two

Welcome back!

I hinted on the photographic truth in my last post. I tried to give the reader some time to digest what the truth of the photograph might be. The search for photographic truth is something I have been dealing with over for the last four years. I remember the exact moment when I realized my images could no longer be as “real” as I wanted them to be. And I really did want the images to be considered as some what of a truth. But, I was asking too much of my viewer! Now I realize my job is to explore the notion of truth, rather than align it with history.

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Jacob Garcia, Untitled, 2012

Yes — I was making straight forward “documentary” images.The images usually involved depictions of people — people in action or the trace of where someone was (objects). The images would be as I (my camera?) found them. For I believe the documentary image is a straight result of the viewers need to have a visual reflection of the world they inhabit. My documentary images sometimes had people asking, “Is this scene real?!”

To depict the “real” is to relieve anxiety, no? — I think so.

But, as I have learned the subjective nature of frame cannot actually capture the “real”. What the images does is take reality and suspend it in time and does not let the moment after (or before) reveal itself. I often refer to Walter Benjamin in order to bring this to light:

“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.”1

The moment of taking the photograph was the “work of art” and its lacking element is that you can never fully experience the moment I was trying to capture.

So instead, I slowly shifted my practice to embrace documentary aesthetics, rather than its historical use. I now use it as a tool to talk about truth. Two big differences now appear in my current work: the use of the large format camera, and the removal of people. The large format camera now requires me to create a scene (thus think about the images before creation), and the lack of people resolves, for me, the anxiety to create a reflection of the human experience in terms of truth.

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Jacob Garcia, Not Lone Wolves After All, 2017

Now the focus is on the image and its function within the idea of truth, not if “this or that” actually took place. I am now conscious of my attempt to fool you. It is purposeful and I hope you forgive me, but I want you to question reality when you look at my “near documentary” images.

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Footnote:

1.Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in Photography in Print, ed Vicki Goldberg et al. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1981), 322.

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