Thursday, July 24, 2014

Photography workshop: production & critique terms of reference

Terms of reference in photography discourse:
practice & critique
This workshop will discuss terms of reference that make sense towards discourse in photography work and its critique. To be held in Tavira during August. If you are interested in receiving updates/information please send a mail to This will be a limited number workshop (up to 10 participants). My personal statement/bio at http://miguel-proenç

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Winter Postcards - José Bacelar

© José Bacelar, Winter Postcards, 2014
José Bacelar, Winter Postcards, 2014
© José Bacelar, Winter Postcards, 2014
José Bacelar, Winter Postcards, 2014
I have followed José Bacelar’s work with interest since the late 90’s, a work that moves me in a particular and incisive way. The photographic origins in the documental black and white tradition continues to be clearly recognizable (1).
Looking at the prints several ideias emerge clear, become pungent: fragments, conscience, contemplation, passing of time, intimacy, fatherhood, are the ones I share here. If the content itself is substancial and pungent, the form in which it is given us to see reinforces key ideias of the work.

A “raw“ and intense black and white with dimensions that lead us to look closer and also feel the incisive contained within each print. The display of this work in a relaxed and lively setting provides an invitation to absorb, to interiorize, layer by layer, this vibrant set narrative. Bring on spring, summer and everything else - thank you JB!

Exhibition info:
Tittle: Postais de inverno - Winter PostcardsOpen until 14 of june at Espaço Cultural Pedro Remy in Braga.
José Bacelar Bio, sinopsis and other info at
For an additional image see the  Post in Portuguese.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Until Camera Lucida - Easter 2014*

Corrosion, © Miguel Proença, Iniciativa X, Arte Contempo, Lisboa, Barthes and Photography

, c. 2007
In the Photographic Message (1961), Roland Barthes approaches photography from Semiology, through denotative and connotative codes, the latter necessarily bound to culture. “Signification is a dialectic process that solves the contradiction between natural and cultural man”. In this process the paradox of photography is presented, where an inert object is converted into language.

In Camera Lucida (1980), Barthes approaches photography differently, trying to establish the terms of reference - outside of semiology - to understand its essence, or, what differentiates photography from other types of image. In this sense Barthes offers the idea of equivalence between the referent and its photographic representation. To this representation he adds the concepts of studium – the general interest raised by photography – and punctum – the incisive and poignant detail, to arrive at the awareness of photography as “this was”. The association of “this was” with the notion of punctum, expands the equation to include Time, and, necessarily, establishes the link between the photographic image and Death[1]. Connecting these concepts, Barthes proposes the idea of photography as adventure, should the spectator decide to embark.

It is notable that Barthes liberates himself from the semiotic approach from previous work to try and understand photography’s revelatio. Camera Lucida shows us the path of this  adventure - personally and culturally loaded – and at the same time points out the limitations of theories originating in linguistics in approaching the photograpic image. Death permeates the work and, I don’t know if by chance, Barthes was killed by a laundry truck while crossing the street, the year Camera Lucida was published.

[1]. The connection between staging/theatre established in the work also submits to Death.

Barthes, Roland, Chambre Clair, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1980.

Barthes, Roland,Le message photographique, in Communications 1, (?), Paris, 1961

*This article was originally written in Portuguese for the post graduate course "Fotografia e realismo nos Anos 30" [Photography and realism in the 1930's] , lectured by Professor Margarida Acciaiuoli, in Art History ath the FCHS of the UNL, in 2007. This post is the first English version, in 2014.
The English tittle  "Camera Lucida" is misleading, as it specifies indicates a device instead of a concept. 

artigo em Português >

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

paisagem estranha entranha - project blog site is online © authors – screen
The new paisagem estranha entranha site is now online in English. Each instance of this collaborative photography project on contemporary landscape builds conceptually on the previous one. More info at:
» paisagem-estranha-entranha

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Monday, April 7, 2014

On photography as art | DADA *

collage, photography, art, equivalence, register, work, Max Ernst, Chinese Nightingale, photography as art
Max Ernst, Chinese Nightingale, (c. 1920, collage, on
paper, c.12x9 cm),  in
Paintings-234451. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Grenoble, France
Man Ray, painter, created photograms without a camera or pigment. His images, titled Rayographs, originated from the placement and composition of objects directly on the photosensitive medium that, after being exposed to light and processed, resulted in a photographic image of the contours, transparencies and movement of those objects. A negative image, in other words, opaque objects became white, transparencies grays, and the contours of objects further away from the surface diffuse. Ray valued the photographic image after destroying his canvases, previously photographed. He thought of painting as being obsolete.

In the case of Max Ernst, he photographed his collages(1) but did not destroy the original works which he saw as separate and distinct from the photographic print. In his Chinese Nightingale, he starts from a magazine image of an aerial bomb, placed various fragments of other photographic images (tiara, eye and arms) and the result appears as a woman reclining on grass. This composition was photographed and both - the collage and its photographic register – are works of art. This register is also proof of the unique capacity that photography has in uniting unrelated materials into a whole.

 Another DADAist, El Lissitzky, also used photographs of collages and the juxtaposition of negatives, adding graphic elements taken from widely circulated publications (magazine covers and adverts) as background.

Man Ray, through his Rayographs breaks from the conventions of perspective and pigment. These images are similar to the photographic negative and are also a negation of the established rules of photography. He valued the photograph by presenting the register of works as the final work, having destroyed the matrices - painting or collage – in other words, substituted by a reproduction. Max Ernst considered the collage and its photographic reproduction - a unifier of disparate elements – as distinct and autonomous pieces, thus placing on photography the same statute of work of art. El Lissitztky’s photomontages, via the collage of negatives and backgrounds containing mass media materials point to the modernity and multiplicity of photography.

*. See Blythe, S, e Powers, E, Looking at DADA, 2006, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, chapter 9. Paper originally presented in "Photography and Realism in the 30's" course taught by Professor Margarida Acciaiuoli, Art History (contemporary) at FCSH of Universidade Nova de Lisboa.
Original: 2007/10/11.

1. Physical or plastic union of elements

Artigo em Português ->

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Monday, March 31, 2014

INTERVIEW on photography and art*

‘The illiteracy of the future … will be ignorance not of reading or writing, but of photography,”
Baudelaire quoted by Walter Benjamin
"Place of experience, or skin" © Miguel Proença
original "Lugar da experiência, ou pele"
 The projects that interest me the most are documentary based, preferably long term
“The projects that interest me the most are documentary based, preferably long term”. Two of these have been published, “Artes e Artimanhas da Terra para o Mar," about the Ria Formosa (Ria Formosa wetlands) with text by Raquel Delgado Martins in 2000, and “Alqueva, paisagem que muda, povo que espera," about the environmental transformations brought about by the Alqueva dam and in the Aldeia da Luz, “with text by António Oliveira Soares”, in 2007. His work has been published in regional and national level publications and newspapers, “Although the 'exhibition-book” format interests me the most. It is the perfect combination between the ephemeral and long lasting. If the photo book is a privileged and intimate form to view and read images, live prints have an amazement of their own. The reproduction of a photographic image is a different object. One of my professional activities is the reproduction of works of art. Another is photographing people.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Consolidated site domain language

home page miguel-proenç
entry page miguel-proenç
(image may vary).
In the process of consolidating  domains, websites and languages, the sites and .org are in the same domain, at http://miguel-proenç

One of the more delicate questions to solve is that of letters with accent, case of the "ç" as its interpretation can be ambiguous

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