Photographs that are not means of expression or communication?

At the beginning of part 4 in the course, we are asked to reflect upon any photographs that are not used as a mean of expression or communication. The only photographs that I can think that may fulfil this role are those taken in an industrial context, mechanically by machines as part of a production process. Or perhaps by a video surveillance system. I also thought about images created in the context of a medical procedure, like x-rays, or as part of a forensic process. There images all fulfil an information gathering process, like evidence, but are not necessarily trying to express or communicate something.

Perhaps what all these images have in common is that they are not the result of a photographer seeking to convey an idea, but rather the use of photography for its intrinsic technical recording capacity, sometimes in a random, or non-discriminatory way. There is no intervention of somebody’s mind in the selection of the correct time to click, and if there is, this selection is likely either completely detached from the subject, or chosen for a reason that is not connected to either expression or communication, but for another ulterior motive.

That is not to say that this process, in itself, cannot ultimately expresses or communicates something. A completely random series of photographs, taken without knowing in advance what we are going to get, could result in interesting shapes or unexpected situations. They are not expressing anything in particular from the mind of the photographer, but they may nonetheless connect at some level with the viewer, for whom they may mean something.


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