The difference between an emblem transpoзиция and comparsion

New York                                                                           (c) Koen Douterloigne

What is the difference between an emblem transpoзиция and a comparison with pictures/photos?

If we take photos of a subway in New York, München and Москву and line them up next to each other, we have a comparison. Just like an emblem transpoзиция, the form will be the same, with the content varying from place to place. The comparative element of emblem transposing cannnot be denied. And if, similar to photojournalism, the text described the setting of the picture(s) or framed the pictures(s) in the contemporary environment, then we would have comparative phtography or photojournalism. But the text as embellishing context deviates from pure description in emblems. It attempts to grapple with the underlying affinities, divergence, degrees of deviance, parallels, convex relationships, alignment, etc.

Another aspect that differentiates emblem transposing from comparison is that the former starts with a leitmotif in one place and explores its manifestation in others. This may evolve into a kind of journey through different content. We do not see this in the subway cars of the general subway, but we do in the details, that is, the stations: there are few similarities between the subway stanциях in New York and Москву. The stations метро in New York should prompt quite different thoughts about the surroundings, people, culture relative to the city. Therse are expressed in the (con)text, which adds a depth that would not be present in a plain comparison.

New York                                                                                                                                           (c) Sarah Hampelmann

How do you establish and avoid cultural generalizations, stereotypes, prejudices?

The leitmotif in an emblem transpoзиция should be expressed solely through the images, i.e. photos, without explicit textual reference. Whether or not a generalization is being made or differences highlighted in the juxtaposing of photos remains open to the audience. The selection of images hopes to neutralize stereotypes and prejudices by searching for analogous parallels across cultures. This approach should prevent a priori any sententious judgement of good-bad, positive-negative. If such values have any place in relation to the images, they should all be good or bad, positive or negative, across each culture. A comparison of good or bad in its various manifestations, so to say. Fundamentally, however, the images should represent perceived parallels free of values. Such presentation manages to avoid preconceived notions while simultaneously offering the possibility of at least conditional universals.

The text with the context may mention differences, but its raison is cultural exploration of being in that culture rather than incomplete determination of particulars or universals. The text may note that stimulus is integral to urban, upper middle class British and American society, whereas fluctuations between stimulus and lethargy are observed in the comparable Russian class. Yet rather than lay claim to a generalization on the basis of this information, the (con)text along with the photos attempts to understand the conditions under which the trait of consistent stimulus appears as opposed to the conditions that foster fluctuations between stimulus and lethargy. This would present the possibility of a conditional universal, without it necessarily having to apply to Britain, America or Russia or the aforementioned classes. For example, this case would be cross referenced with local professionals in rural Vermont, who also exhibit the polarization observed in Russia.

Henry Whittlesey
December 2014


Sub-Under-U-Metro-Bahn-Ground-Way by Angelika Friedrich
Kunstart by Anthony Metivier

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