Text To Screen Starts:
I have previously stated…  We have many options with discourse/texts… which, post analysis, we choose to reject or subsume… However, a preferable formula for their ‘creative’  use/implementation in understanding our expanding  digital hypertextual world and immersive virtual environments, may be to consider these chosen discourse/texts – post analysis as vectors – valuable points of reference. That is to say ‘quantities, having direction as well as magnitude, in determining the position of one point in space relative to another’ here, intelligent and rigourous inclusion/exclusion of certain texts, aid our cognition/comprehension, of an overall system Their significance and value lies – not only in supplying meaning constructed via their validity, relevance, and binding to other chosen vectors, when applied to the potential of virtual systems/environments – but also as an aid in defining our ‘place and our functional practice’ within virtual systems and environments, it’s agency, strategy and eventual operational effect… in this particular case, extending unequivocally to our first life social, cultural, political and physical environments as well…

pixel Reanimator/Andy Stringer
Introduction to The Art + Poetry Project
The Photographic or Ethical Paradox and the Children of Naples
Installation & Virtual Theatre Performance  2012

The Photographic or Ethical Paradox and the Children of Naples

In the opening page of On Photography Susan Sontag refers to photographs as teaching us a new visual code – code – a system which correlates elements of an expression-plane with elements of a content-plane, a rule for connecting the expression of signs to their content, and a correlational device which generates ‘sign-functions’, a rule for sign production and interpretation, in that it determines how the expression and content of signs are to be correlated.   Codes will be seen here, and are tangential to this overview…
The best way then, of first approaching how we can address, engage and understand how this medium of photography works… or indeed, what I will attempt to investigate here – how we extract ‘meaning’ from the photographic image, (which has profound influence over its operational affect) – is to start with the consideration of the photograph being – Image as Object – based on the medieval Latin route objectum – ‘ thing presented to the mind ‘.
We should also for the purpose of this text, first seek to deal with each picture as a singular image object, lest we fall into the trap, often experienced when viewing any series/group of images, of making the mistake in – constructing a narrative. Sontag also questions photography’s presumption of veracity, that which gives all photographs authority, interest and seductiveness, and in so doing questions their associations between art and truth – to acknowledge Heidegger’s concept: Art is truth setting itself to work* – helps collapse the dichotomy… (*In his addendum to the essay from which these words are taken The Origin of the Work of Art, Heidegger points out: What art may be is one of the questions to which no answers are given in this essay. What gives the impression of such an answer are directions for questioning)
By starting to question/investigate the photographic image, it is here then, we encounter another dichotomy, of the photographer/camera capturing reality or interpreting it, and the need to look closer at how photographic images are produced and read by ourselves as Spectators.

In The Photographic Message Roland Barthes states the photograph is ‘an object endowed with structural autonomy’. Before attempting an analysis of the unique structure that the photographic message constitutes – he points towards the photograph not being an isolated structure, but its appearance (at many stages) being in communication with texts (titles, captions, meta-tags or discourse).
Barthes declares the photographic image, as perfect analogon and in being so, (contra Sontag), it is a message without code (he describes painting theatre and cinema also, as messages without code, but each develops a supplementary message in addition to its analogical content – commonly called the ‘style’ of reproduction: a second meaning, whose signifier is a certain ‘treatment’ of the image (the result of the action of the creator) and whose signified, whether aesthetic or ideological, refers to a certain ‘culture’ of the society receiving the message. He continues… all these ‘imitative’ arts comprise two messages: a denoted message, which is the analogon itself, and a connoted message, which is the manner in which the society (social system) to a certain extent communicates what it thinks of it – the code of the connoted system is very likely constituted either by a universal symbolic order, or by a period rhetoric, in short by a stock of stereotypes.
Attempting to describe the ‘analogical plenitude‘ of the photographic message is virtually impossible, and doing so reverts to joining the analogous denoted message with a ‘second order message‘ derived from language, a connotation – changing structure, to signify (interpret) something different from that depicted.  As the photographic image is ‘read’ and connoted on a culturally conditioned sign base, it is these codes of connotation, at the levels of production and reception of the message, that lead to the ‘photographic paradox’ – the co-existance of two messages, one without a code (photographic analogue), the other with code (art/treatment, writing, rhetoric): structurally the paradox is the connoted (or coded) message which develops on the basis of a message without a code.

In setting out various connotation procedures (which are not units of signification), Barthes offers a range –
Trick effects: creating or producing an image to ‘artificiality’, i.e. intervention effecting the plane of denotation by a predefined connotative intention and manipulation (masking denotation with connotation).
Pose: a subject posing prepares the reading of the signifieds of connotation: at its base asking a person to ‘smile’ will signify happiness, a pleasure of being, relying on the existence of a store of stereotyped attitudes which form ready-made elements of signification, the viewer receiving as a simple denotation, what is in fact a double structure – denoted/connoted.
Objects: where meaning comes from the object photographed (or included in the photograph), accepted inducers of association of ideas: book-case = intellectual, hypodermic needles = drug consumption – physical qualifications for signs, referring to clear familiar signifieds.
Photogenia: in terms of informational structure, the connoted message is the image itself ’embellished’ (sublimated) by techniques of lighting, exposure, and printing: the aesthetic effect becomes the signifying effect.
Syntax: when several photographs come together to form a sequence, the signifier of connotation is then not found at the level of any one of the fragments of the sequence, but at that – what linguists would call the supra-segmental level – of the concatenation (see resources, the work of Salvatore Esposito).
In the sub-section of The Photographic Message – Text and image – he states that ‘texts’ constitute a parasitic message designed to connote the image with second-order signifieds, and in doing so, becomes a sublimation, patheticisation or rationalisation of the image, ‘texts’ ‘load’ the image, an amplification from one to the other, burdening the image with a culture, a moral, an imagination…

In Camera Lucida Barthes observes the photograph may be the practice of three emotions/intentions – to do, to undergo, to look.
The Operator (the photographer), the Spectrum, (the target, the referent [the person or thing] photographed) and the Spectator (the viewer/ourselves).
The Operator’s emotion and motivation has always to be taken into account (the mentality which looks at the world as a set of potential photographs, limiting experience to the photogenic), along with their skill, craft and expertise in the use/manipulation of the camera (choice of camera format, film stock/nature of processing, close up/medium shot, deep focus/soft focus use of framing/cropping, lighting effects etc.) and choice of subject… the recording of an image as an act of non- intervention, or being complicit or manipulative to achieve an outcome.
All information is produced from ‘event’
The Spectrum (the referent), as observed within the photograph can only ever be a visual ‘stop frame’ within an event – a fractional segment of time – image-frozen within an event – (even when the Operator is photographing an object or landscape, it is still the ‘stop frame’ of that ongoing event that he/she is currently involved in). When this ‘stop frame’ is ‘printed’ (or now ‘uploaded), the image confers on the captured event, a kind of immortality (an importance), which that moment of event would never otherwise have enjoyed, the eidolon an idealised person or thing.

However, when referring to the observed subject and that of the subject observing, Barthes’ the observer’s self, the (Myself) never coincides with the image (My Image). The photograph (of one’s self as subject) becomes the advent of the self as other, the disassociation of consciousness from identity described as a violation of the subject (person) by seeing them as they (rarely) see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have; turning people into objects that may be symbolically possessed.
The Spectator (the viewer/ourselves in Barthes’ words), when searching for an analysis of the attraction of certain images, can be subject to the ‘pressure of the unspeakable which wants to be spoken’, and at the same time contras this for other images, when referring to Satre’s words – ‘human beings in photographs without existential posture, without any special intentionality, drift between the shores of perception, between sign and image, without ever approaching either’.
Barthes writes of his emotion requiring a rational intermediary of an ethical and political culture determining a general interest in ‘thousands of photographs’ and the avarage effect induced thereby, and defines this with the Latin word – studium – application to a thing, taste for someone, a kind of general enthusiastic commitment, but without special acuity, as it is culturally that connotation is present in the studium, when (the Spectator’s) ‘participation’ takes place in figures, faces, gestures, settings and actions within the photograph. The element which disturbs (breaks or punctuates) the studium, is an element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces the Spectator, (photographs are sometimes even speckled with these sensitive points), he calls – punctum: – sting, speck, cut, little hole and also a cast of the dice.
A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks, bruises and is poignant.

In The Pensive Image Jacques Ranciére questions Barthes, on his choice of connotation when invoking the punctum, Ranciére goes on to describe an image (which Barthes connotes), as having three forms of indeterminacy. The first involving visual composition, the second indeterminacy concerns the work of time and the third concerns the attitude of the character, indicating the photograph’s ‘pensiveness’. This may then be defined as this tangle between several forms of indeterminacy, which may be characterised as an effect of the circulation between the subject, the photographer and us, the spectator – of the intentional and the unintentional, of the known and the unknown, the expressed and the unexpressed, the present and the past.
Pensiveness of the photographic image, would then be the relationship between several modes of representation such as a characterisation of identity, social characterisation and aesthetic indeterminacy…
In her thoughts on Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others, Judith Butler in Frames of War, highlights Sontag’s concept of being ‘haunted’ by the photographic image bringing us closer to an understanding of the fragility and mortality of human life… Butler implies, if we are shaken or ‘haunted’ by the photograph, it is because the photograph acts on us, in part, through outliving the life it documents, and in doing so, is still capable of transmitting its reference of the precariousness of its subject.
Sontag, in claiming the photograph can be an invitation… to pay attention, reflect… and examining the rationalisations for mass suffering, offered by established powers, had previously denounced the photographic image for ‘enraging’ without directing the rage, and so exciting our moral (ethical) sentiment (our emotional sensibility), while at the same time confirming our political paralysis.
In Jacques Ranciére’s The Intolerable Image he claims this scepticism of the ‘political capacity’ of any image is generated by the disappointed belief in a ‘straight line’ between perception, affection, comprehension and action.
In Dissensus he states ‘There is no straight path from the viewing of a spectacle to an understanding of the state of the world, and none from intellectual awareness to political action. Instead, this kind of shift (the operational affect) implies a move from one given world to another in which capacities and incapacities, forms of tolerance and intolerance, are differently defined. What comes to pass is a process of dissociation: a rupture in the relationship between sense and sense, between what is seen and what is thought, and between what is thought and what is felt.

In The Intolerable Image, he states that representation is not necessarily the act of producing a visible form, but the act of offering an equivalent, something that speech does just as much as photography, that voice (in the form of poetics) is itself ‘caught up’ in the process of image construction.
It is the voice of a body that transforms one sensible event into another, by striving to make us ‘see’ what it has seen, to make us see what it tells us –
There are images in language as well.
It is possible that some of the images shown here are a conversion of the social into the picturesque (with the exception of Esposito)… not captured to stimulate a moral impetus – photographs cannot create a moral position, but can reinforce one.
Without a politics, an ethical stance, photography of the (pitiable) social will most likely be experienced simply as demoralising… as Barthes points out – the structural paradox (mentioned above) coincides with an ethical paradox: when one wants to be ‘neutral’ ‘objective’, one strives to copy reality meticulously, as though the analogical were a factor of resistance against the investment of values…
However, the photographic image offers up many nameless beings, subjects with no personal history. It can often be this ‘anonymity’ of the subject (bordering on a banalization) which impedes spectatorial identification or empathy.
It is only when based on the ethical, on contextually accurate, factually documented information, that second-order signifieds move toward making ‘informed’ connotations (narrativisations) of the photographic image as a valid premise for social, cultural, historical and of course, political analysis.
If we may overcome contemplation of appearance separated from its truth – the portrayal of a social situation and what gives rise to it when these photographic images are ‘perceived/read’, spectators taking their role as active interpreters, developing their own translation of these images and the ‘conditions‘ which give rise to them, the precariousness of their subjects, along with ‘authors’ text – it may then be possible that ruptures between sense and sense, between what is seen and what is thought, and between what is thought and what is felt, between passivity and action, may occur, when reading Carmen Auletta’s poetic response and looking to/engaging with… images of the Children of Naples…

Text To Screen Ends…

The following information was supplied as ‘resources’ in note cards at the venue/installation

Please note that resources with urls are integral to the work

B i b l i o g r a p h y

The Photographic or Ethical Paradox and the Children of Naples

On Photography Susan Sontag   (Penguin)
Poetry, Language, Thought Martin Heidegger   (HarperPerennial)
Camera Lucida Roland Barthes   (Vintage)
Image Music Text Roland Barthes   (Fontana)
Frames of War Judith Butler   (Verso)
The Emancipated Spectator  Jacques Ranciére   (Verso)
The Politics of Aesthetics Jacques Ranciére   (Continuum)
Dissensus  Jacques Ranciére   (Continuum)

P h o t o g r a p h y 

Children of Naples.
Post War/1944 Images by Wayne Miller

by Mimmo Jodice

Naples Main Line
Salvatore Esposito

D i s c o u r s e

Extract from Naples 2008 or The Waste Land: Trash Citizenship and an Ethic of Narration
‘To talk of an ecomafia in Naples means therefore to talk of a thwarted citizenship. It means an individual forcibly separated from both their social and territorial identities. Not only is this a political issue, it is also an ethical one; and ecological culture, being based on the integration of humans and their biological as well as social environment, cannot ignore such an issue. In fact, where a crisis of citizenship exists, a citizen’s basic rights are no longer guaranteed. They are not politically guaranteed, because the permeability between citizens and public institutions becomes unstable; they are not socially guaranteed, because lacking institutional protection the social fabric itself erodes under the pressure of an organised crime system….’

Please read this paper by Serenella
Serenella Iovino (Neapolitan academic)– Naples 2008 or The Waste Land: Trash Citizenship and an Ethic of Narration

L i t e r a t u r e

Gomorrah: A personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naple’s Organised Crime System
by Roberto Saviano (Neapolitan writer) – A Documentary Novel
Referenced in the above

C i n e m a

Directed by Matteo Garrone
(Winner of the Grande Jury Prize Cannes 2008)
‘A cold-eyed, clear-headed tour of the abyss’ – Xan Brooks The Guardian
A challenging 131 minutes… shot on location
Film Based on the Novel – trailer here

J o u r n a l i s m

In Naples, the Camorra still Prospers on Poverty
From an original French article by Paul Falzon
Translated  by Henry Crapo

S o c i a l  S t u d y

The Case of Naples by Matteo Scaramella
Taken from UN-Habitat (2003) Global Report on Human Settlements 2003,
The Challenge of Slums, Earthscan, London.

P o e t r y

The Children of Naples by Carmen Auletta

Children who have lost their innocence,
they meet in their thousand in the city,
living in great pain
and we pretend not to see.
We must cure this sickness of Naples,
which is within the eyes of these children,
a look of beaten and flayed hopes,
the misery takes hold of them by the hair.
The real school teaches the way,
work or go to steal,
you find them also in the suburbs,
where the Gang of thieves comes to exploit them.
The world sees them in postcards,
because they are folklore, they are beautiful,
but together with the pizza and mandolin,
they do not speak of the suffering of Naples.

The Photographic or Ethical Paradox and the Children of Naples
was Part of the Art + Poetry Project from January 26 to January 29, 2012
hosted by Flora Nordenskiold, Nordan Art, @ Nordan om Jorden Second Life.
Curated by Roxelo Babenco (aka Rosanna Galvani) with poems by Margye Ryba
(aka Carmen Auletta) /
Museo del Metaverso – a large part of the project was
also staged in Opensim Craft by the gallery of Museo del Metaverso