The empire’s footmen
In the same way almost every dissident speech is lost between the overwhelming multiplicity of possible narratives in constant exchange and movement, the images containing a strong social denounce or critic are lost, alongside the virtual flux of millions of pictures per second.
There should be no surprise in the fact that trivialization and over-saturation are the two most powerful tools for the imposition of an aesthetic and its subsequent use for production. The main intention behind both actions is to remove the images from their meaning and sense (sense seeks time and direction; mainstream speech relies on instant satisfaction, denying any other time than now and any other direction than myself). In order to remove its sense, it needs to be worn, polished in its borders, repeated until it stops being an image and its own existence doesn’t allow any speeches about its emptiness. For the bourgeoisie, there is only triumph (victory, foundation, achievements risen as the examples to follow: the very heart of any repressive organism) when photography can no longer heal her wound: that inexorable superficiality, her constitution as the victim of permanent repetition, a phenomena condemned to the form, without a critical point of view, equipped with only blind aesthetics, unable to perceive her own lacks, meaning: emptied of every possible volume (pores, lips, skin, notice how everything is smooth now: modern plastic perfection allows no rugosity) up to the point where its own lack of content becomes a content in itself: the image has suffered such a violent outward movement, it ended up turning outside, centrifugally, expelling its guts, its internal life, and by doing so, it lost the ability to be filled up again.
There’s such fierce in this act of emptying all content by usage and repetition, it has taken away the possibility of having any insides: that old barrel that used to be filled (and was the heart of photography), has now turned into a wooden tube where everything passes and nothing stays. General phenomena, unspecific, that something can now be replaced with anything else. Universal image, therefore, constitutive: it’s not one thing or the other, but it might very well be any of them both.
Photography has been transplanted from her job of representing reality, for it has transformed herself into a supplanting action, a footman of the production subjectivity: she says nothing when she has to support catwalks, fashion magazines, building facades, advertisements for banking credits or gigantic banners financed by multinational companies who have no aesthetics, but they borrow it from photography, hanging from her to have a false human face (vampirism: as long as photography can deliver bodies, they will be used). Photography can no longer defend herself. Was she ever able to? Who were the former enemies she had to face?
Like every subject affected by the economy, photography has lost her job: she no longer represents the subject and its matter, for all she can do now is taking selfies, showing time and time again what we already known. Mirrors facing each other, creating infinite halls that tend to a grey color (grey is the color that colors turn into, when they no longer want to exist). We behold, with the same guilt carried by the witness of a crime, one cold fact: from the photography designed to allow the subject to observe its defects and question himself, we now have only the scabs. In front of us, an automat, soulless body, relegated to a symbolic analysis of the image (ethics in general) and its appreciation as something that might contain beauty (aesthetics in general), but without any critical reference (no reason, nothing that shapes the subject). The image, after this horrible lobotomy, points to himself in big ads making symbolic trickery for fools or obscene technical shows that lead to a passing and disposable beauty. A beauty that no longer dazzles, for it tends to insensibility, and is now as interesting as a light post, the streets we walk on or the smog we breathe. Cities are places where everything is tinted in a uniformed grey (the city and the image have the same chromatic gamma, for they share the same wound): by losing the meaning, photography dies, taking all the colors with her.