Visibly Invisible

(Die Unsichtbarkeit des Rahmens. Bildpolitiken im Fotojournalismus)
The lecture puts a focus on photojournalistic images and their complex and multidimensional interrelations with ethics and politics. Therefore the lecture interrogates current image productions in photojournalism and shows that seemingly authentic photographs are involved in image politics and mechanisms of power which themselves work to restrict the field of representability. The photograph is a performative act whose goal is not only to depict and convey events, but to produce these events in the picture and imbue them with meaning. For these mechanisms the question of how the fields of the visible and the invisible are separated as well as the structuring function of framing play an important role.

In the field of representation, meaning extends beyond what is visible in the frame. Just as each picture moves within the context of pictures and iconographies that already exist and either explicitly or implicitly refers back to them, the reception history of pictures is part of their sphere of meaning. The frame of each image restricts and excludes. But even what remains outside the frame becomes visible within the representation and is part of the sphere of meaning. What is excluded from the frame, the background of the depicted image which is not thematised, nevertheless belongs to its invisible organizational structure. Moreover, this means that the invisible is always part of the field of representation, but the mechanisms of exclusion are generally carried through without leaving visible traces. This is why in the photographic image observers are confronted with a presumably immediate depiction of reality. In classical photojournalism the belief in the photographic promise of reality is based on this invisibility of the frame. Yet this lecture asks whether current photographic image productions work on the frame and a shifting of the boundary between the included and excluded, the visible and invisible and thereby introduce a critical examination of the limitations which hang over interpretations of reality.