Exercise – Photos from my Personal Collection

It has been a while since I posted my images on the OCA forum. Looking at the images now, I wonder if they were actually the kinds of images that we were supposed to post, since they’re not all relevant on a personal level. But well, here they are!


The response I got from the forum is the following:

Wow, you have chosen images which are difficult to read. And it is not obvious in which country/culture the photographs are taken.
So I’ll try to describe what I see.
1. Maybe this is Guinea (former French Guinea) judging from the flags on the truck. I see Sinterklaas (a Dutch custom) standing on the truck waving at the girl, who is holding the present she got?
2. Street photograph. Man sitting in front of a butcher shop. Maybe India (English speaking country).
3. The child needs to be distracted using Teletubbies. Maybe because the child needs to be shaven for a religious ceremony. Possibly India again?
4. Looks like a classroom for grown-ups. Difficult to read.
5. A class of children wearing traditional tribal clothing. A party? A dance? Africa? Guinea again?
In regards to the idea that a photograph is ambiguous because it is taken out of a continuity, I think that the response to the caption shows that the level of ambiguity is dependent on the viewer’s own experiences and knowledge of the subject in front. Maurice (the student who responded to my images) could recognise some of the places where the images were taken and therefor drew conclusions that were quite close to what the images depict.
However, it is true that even though the basics of the images are well interpreted, they obviously don’t show my personal connection, feelings and place in my life story. It does need more information to be able to convey that.
I notice that when I look at images that seem ambiguous, I draw conclusions that tend to be shaken or confirmed after reading the captions. So I agree that they produce and ‘effect of certainty, even dogmatic assertion’, although I think that captions can also produce even more ambiguity. By stating what it is about, the process of interpretation is also being steered and disrupted. It’s probably not one thing or the other, just elements that one needs to be aware of.

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