Daniel Rubinstein: The quest for the forgotten vagina and the shrinkage of representation in arctic explorers
"Forgotten vagina. The passage that is missing. Left on the shelf, between the outside and the inside, between the plus and the minus. With the result that all divergences will finally be proportions, functions, relations that can be referred back to sameness." Luce Irigaray, Speculum of the Other Woman, trans. Gillian C. Gill (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985), 247.
This paper submits that understood correctly photography is not a representation of reality but a representation of representation. Not one, but two degrees of separation from the real suggest that photography is the visual manifestation of the logic of pataphysics as developed by Alfred Jarry. Conceived from within the parameters of absurdist poetics photography is able to break through the metaphysical sound barrier and inhabit the space at the edge of the known universe where the visible is not bound by the limitations of human vision but opens itself up to the possibilities of invisible and unknowable material presence. What might come as a surprise is that this type of post-metaphysical image-making was already practiced by 19th Century photographers, particularly during doomed arctic expeditions rife with self-cannibalism, madness and hypothermia. As this paper will go on to suggest, in such conditions photography can become detached from its degenerative role as a second rate replacement to the real and become emancipated to take on a reality of its own.