Clear Liquid Thought: The Photographs of Jim Dine

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Clear Liquid Thought: The Photographs of Jim Dine The camera sees even beyond the visual consciousness. --Ralph Eugene Meatyard Argument: The Photographic Unconscious In his article "Photographie avant analyse"1 photography critic François Soulages discusses the reciprocal influence between photography (as an emerging technology in the nineteenth century) and the study of the unconscious (prior to the invention of psychoanalysis). To what extent, he asks, did a new technology such as photography enlighten, modify, or enrich the understanding of the unconscious? And, conversely, how did what he calls "the hypothesis of the unconscious" allow for a better understanding of a new technology? These questions, inherent in the beginnings of photography and essentially linked to its role in the comprehension of the visible and the invisible body, have gained considerable importance today. The photographic works I will discuss here participate in our understanding of the unconscious in a paradoxical way, since they do not imply disclosing images of the artist's unconscious specifically encoded into symbolic meaning. On the contrary, my concern is with these works' potential to generate visual equivalents of inner life perceptions in a variety of puzzling formal patterns whose disclosure of meaning is cunningly deferred. The photographic compositions of Jim Dine are not narratives of inner life, but forms of visual experience that inform our ways of thinking the unconscious. ------------------------------------ 1 François Soulages, "Photographie avant analyse", Photographie et inconscient (31-35). In this study, Soulage primarily deals with the beginnings of photography and with its paradoxical uses in psychiatry ... ... middle of paper ... ...rundberg, Andy. "Now, the Camera's Eye Turns Inward", in The New York Times, May 28. 1989. Hamon, Philippe. Imageries.Littérature et image au XIXe siècle. Paris: José Corti, 2001. ------------------------------------ 19 The phrase used in the title of this article is coined after the title of one of Dine's black-and-white photogravure prints, "Clear Liquid Talking", 1996. Krauss, Rosalind.The Optical Unconscious. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1993. Meatyard, Ralph Eugene. Caught Moments -- New Viewpoints. Exhibition catalogue. London: Olympus Gallery, 1983. Powers, Richard. Three Framers on Their Way to a Dance. New York : W. Morrow, 1985. Sibony, Daniel. "Une technique de l'instant ou la machine à clicher", La Recherche photographique 7 (1990) Soulages, François. "Photographie avant analyse", Photographie et inconscient, Soulages ed. Paris: Osiris, 1986.

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