On the 30th November we had an afternoon class with Nicolo looking at “What is Documentary?”

Documentary is the pertaining to or based on documents, presented objectively without insertion of fictional matter. It is essentially a factual record/report on a particular subject.  This differs somewhat from document which is information or evidence that has been recorded.

A way of documenting is through photography, mainly based on the fact that photography give you a truthful outcome. It is an objective and accurate imitation of reality. In semiotic terms it is an indexical image of reality.

The Pencil of Nature (1844)  is the first book illustrated by means of photography and commercially published, it used lots of photographic applications. This was shortly followed by Horse Galloping, 1873, taken by Eadweard Muybridge. This series of photographs was taken in order to prove that at a given point a horse will have all four legs off the ground, it was proven to be true and therefore became a truth revelation. Photography started to be used then for applications in natural science ( zoology) and in police documents. It then became used by many to document and create archives.

This lead Nicolo into discussing realism. Realism is to portray reality, to produce a realistic effect. However does realism always show us the truth, how can we be sure. This idea comes under Objectivity and Subjectivity. Is it real or is it the person who has created its reality.

Nicolo then created a time line that discussed different archival and photographic interest from the 1900’s to present.


– Eugène Atget – 41 Rue Broca, street musicians, Cour 28 Rue Bonaparte, Avenue de l’observatoire, The Eclipse

– Surrealism and Brassai- Paris de Nuit, Graffiti

– Germany – Editing of Society – New Objectivity, People of the XX Century ( August Sander), Cook, XX Century and Bricklayer, XX Century.

– Art forms in Nature

– USA Social Documentary – Jacob Riis, How the other side lives, Photographs poor areas of NYC – Louis Hiro, Child Labour in gold mines

– Wee Gee – Naked City (1945)

– Modernism/ Straight Photography/Document Films

– FSA (1930’s), During the Great Depression, Dorethea Lange

– Walker Evans, Social Context, American Photography (1939)

– WWII, Cartier Bresson ( Madrid) D-Day Normandy (1945), Josef Koudelka, Exiles

1950’s to Present 

– Robert Frank – The Americans (1958), Subjective Dimension, The lines of my Hand

– The American Social Landscape

– The New Topographies- Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Stephan Shore (Pop Art), Becher (Conceptual work of art), Ed Rusha,Artist Books

– Evidence (1977) Sultan and Mendel

– Mystery although real, Becomes fiction

– The News Room, Baseball Cards, influential

– Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependancy

– Jim Goldburg, Raised by Wolves, what separates fiction and reality

– The contest of meaning- Critical History of Photography.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s