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    Sayılar    Sayı 6    ENGLISH    The Eye's Domain
The Eye's Domain Aylin Yılmazbayhan

Photographers are wanderers, travelers, and explorers, searching-in the deserts, the villages, on the roads, in people's faces- for the poetic image, the image that freezes us in time, that suspends our scrutiny of something outside us and starts us questioning what is within, that starts us seeing in a new way. Every true journey on which a photographer takes us sets off in two directions: outward, to watch the fast-moving strip of surprises along the road-faces, landscapes, streets- and inward, into the impelling flow of the internal monologue. It is a journey that always exposes us to the unknown, renewing our inquiry. The constant nearness of the unforeseen to which it exposes us awakens our senses, increasing the eagerness with which we see, limbering the muscles of the imagination. The being that we are in relation to space seems to grow larger as it takes in other colors, other forms, other connections; and as a result, we seem radically to rethink what, under unfamiliar conditions and perspectives, we might be. That is perhaps the true passion of the journey constituted by the photograph: witnessing the advent of a new, revitalized inner being. In the channel of the spaces we pass through, we extend and transform ourselves; the narrator in us speaks and sees in different ways, imagines in other modes. New frontiers, new shapes of the possible, open up within.

The journey in the photograph is the closest thing to a poem: both are exercises in perceiving the unknown, attempts to inhabit new worlds, even if only with the eyes. The camera registers the essential experience: the appearance of the poetic image, the original moment that is the source of consciousness. The image that crystallizes is a medium of knowledge, a halting language struggling to be born.

Skin gives us a body, with volume and size. The body of our consciousness, though, is other: it conforms to the space of our vision. The gaze is formed by many frontiers, now the wall facing us, now the distant horizon; it flows through the spaces we look at as through a channel or conduit, including whatever it touches in the mass of the visible. The body of consciousness changes shape constantly as it travels. Within it we enlarge ourselves and lose ourselves, pass from distraction to amazement, from the old and familiar to the unknown. The poetic image is like a handhold, or a root, locating is in the vast and passive space that is the eye's domain.

There we perceive and receive ourselves, recover ourselves, grasp and understand ourselves. Abandoning the neutral surface of the given, the poetic image enters the depths of links and language. In the ocean imposed by the eye, it once again takes on skin, bone, muscles, strength -once again grants us substance.

Touched by poetry, the photograph acts like a mirror: the world is in it, but so are we. It captures and expresses us. We may be looking at external referents -the image of a mountain, a tree, the face of a child- but these images allow themselves to be inhabited by us, as the figure in a dream is inhabited by the dreamer. In the oneiric universe, every character and object represents, or is performed by, the one who dreams. The dreamer is what is dreamed -dust, tree, stone. That is why the term obra de autor (author's work) is used for the kind of photograph that aims to discover the poetic image. Every poetic image becomes our own, becomes our soul, is in some way dreamed, the receptacle of our reveries.

Gaston Bachelard, in his Poetics of Space (1969), argues that every poetic image has a degree of reverberation and a degree of resonance. Reverberation is rapture, ectasy, and influences the soul; resonance is heard in the space of the spirit, in the whole mesh of echoes and connotations that the image awakens. In its quality of resonance the image speaks in the third person, displaying the orchestration of its networks; in its quality of reverberation, on the other hand, the image speaks in the first person, engaging us in a dialogue, taking possession of us. Our soul inhabits the poetic image and is made manifest through it.

In confronting one of Abbas's photographs, then, something in us is transformed into that striated grove, damaged by dust storms, the tree like nerves numbed by the cold of the open country. Reverberation reveals the self, capturing it in the splinter of the image, that fragment of a whole, of a lost language. The image returns body to us from the soul; it forms us communes with us.

In one of Graciela Iturbide's photographs, children roll in sand, jubilant planets hurled down a steep slope toward an abyss. We share in the image's giddiness and charm. A yearning is fulfilled in every poetic encounter: subject and object are united, mingled. They join in intimacy. But this is also an archetypal game, and in the photograph the linear time of reality encounters the archetype of myth, the landmark of desire, the meaning of dream. A poetic image fabricates us, gives substance to a shadow.

One never knows when the miracle will occur -when the eyes of alien beings meet, as in Neyra's work; in the bric-a-brac of Flores Olea's back rooms; or in Cifuentes's doll-like dead baby. The poetic image appears not only as body or presence, but as sign, as promise of meaning, as glyph to disentangle. It implicates us in its enigma, captures us in its wonder, makes us inhabit it.

The moment when external perception and an unknown impulse come together: that is the poetic image. Something of ourselves always comes to life in the presence of the unknown, the other, the strange. In the poetic image, we wish to be in some way born to ourselves.

  • Graciela Iturbide,
Primer dia del verano
(First day of summer)
(Yazın ilk günü),
Veracruz, Mexico,1982
  • Graciela Iturbide,
El mundo de los mayores
(The world of the grown-ups)
(Yetişkinlerin dünyası),
East Germany (Doğu Almanya), 1981
  • Jose Luis Neyra, La pareja
(The couple) (Çift),
Zacapoaxtla,
Puebla, Mexico, 1976
  • Hugo Cifuentes, Las aguateras (The water carriers)
(Su taşıyıcılar),
Ecuador, 1980
  • Hugo Cifuentes,
El musico mayor
(The greatest musician),
(En iyi müzisyen)
Ecuador, 1980
  • Graciela Iturbide,
El matrimonio
(The marriage)
(Evlilik),
Panama, 1974
  • Graciela Iturbide, Inmaculada
(The Virgin Marry)
(Bakire Meryem),
Xochimilco, Mexico, 1984
  • Graciela Iturbide, Inmaculada
(The Virgin Marry)
(Bakire Meryem),
Xochimilco, Mexico, 1984
  • Jose Luis Neyra,
Plaza de Garibaldi,
Mexico City, Mexico, 1968
  • Hugo Cifuentes, 'Huanurca' serisinden, Ecuador, 1982
  • Hugo Cifuentes, 'Huanurca' serisinden, Ecuador, 1982
  • Hugo Cifuentes, 'Huanurca' serisinden, Ecuador, 1982




 
   
 
   
 

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