Wikipedia tells us that vector graphics are “computer graphics images that are defined in terms of 2D points, which are connected by lines and curves to form polygons and other shapes. Each of these points has a definite position on the x- and y-axis of the work plane and determines the direction of the path; further, each path may have various properties including values for stroke color, shape, curve, thickness, and fill” (‘Vector graphics’, 2020).
Wikipedia also tells us that a raster graphic or bitmap image is “a dot matrix data structure that represents a generally rectangular grid of pixels (points of color), viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium” (‘Raster graphics’, 2020).
Now, is there essentially any difference between the two? Vector graphics are based on the assumption that reality can be represented using lines and curves. Raster graphics are based on the assumption that reality can be represented through a grid of dots of varying tones. The latter bring to mind that fondly remembered dictum of 1890 of Maurice Denis: “Remember that a painting – before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or an anecdote of some sort – is essentially a flat surface covered with colors, put together in a certain order” (Musée d’Orsay 2006).
Both vector graphics and raster graphics assume that the world can be represented, more or less faithfully, by a theorem of one sort or another.
Thus we come to understand that the photography apparatus (whether of the analogue or digital type) and all associated paraphernalia are apparatuses interpreting interpretations lisped to them, inside them, by a humanoid rendered mute.
All elements in an image (think: color, form, line, shape, space, texture, etc.) are perceived simply because “I have already seen them”… …just like the full reconstruction of a color image from a Bayer sensor depends on the process of demosaicing: “an interpolative process in which the output pixel associated with each photosite is assigned an RGB value based in part on the level of red, green, and blue reported by those photosites adjacent to it” (‘Foveon X3 sensor’, 2020).
Assumptions that are fleshed-out by some interpolative process and which make up our perceptions of the world are simply based on (mostly) faulty memories – “I have already seen them… next!”
To recognize is to remember. And, thus, perception is not simply reliant on memory. Perception is memory.
We can extend all this crap further. The photographic image plummets into and warps an infinite depth which is none other than the flatness of a white field. Paper, any paper, is a photograph. You don’t see a photograph (clearly, the paper is blank); you think you see a photograph (and you see it). The photographic image is produced not by capturing what is in front of the lens but by a deletion of that being peering through the viewfinder, the photographer. By momentarily, as if through a flash of light, blinding the photographer to the scene being captured, the photograph, now snatched out of its virtuality, can momentarily relishingly reveal to itself the lie that it is and that it has for so long known that it is, a lie that it has perpetually kept so well hidden from the world and itself; in this complete devastation, it experiences with trepidation the glorious moment of infinite acerbation of the painful pleasure it feels knowing that it will eternally be the only witness to its self-disclosure, a disclosure nameless here for evermore.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”Edgar Allan Poe, ‘The Raven’ (Poe 43-48)
Mockingly, then, it will reappear to the judging and discerning eye of the photographer as that which it inherently is not but which the photographer believes it to be: it reappears to the human eye as a simulacrum of reality (however we are to understand that word), this enabled merely by the positioning of a viewing subject in front of it. In the now-seeing subject reclaiming his/her position in front of the image, a distance between the two comes to be… and the thinking subject (or image, following Bergson) sees (another) image. We do not literally see a photograph; we do not (bizarrely) consciously merely think that we are seeing a photograph; we remember remembering seeing it somewhere and think thinking we are seeing it… and thus we see it. We can thus say that the experience of the photographic happens in the relational void between a Being and a nothing (determined, thank you Derrida).
Our brains are cheap copies of themselves. And there lies their perfection.
And the photograph is just paper.
P.S. I would attempt to define reality as a ridiculous game of Charades or Pictionary played by happily self-indulgent, fulfilled, funny beings everywhere, and interpreted by a snoring brain as: “Oh! That shit again!”
‘Foveon X3 sensor’ (2020) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foveon_X3_sensor [accessed 13 February 2020].
Musée d’Orsay. 2006. ‘Maurice Denis’. Musée d’Orsay [online]. Available at: https://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/events/exhibitions/archives/exhibitions-archives/browse/4/article/maurice-denis-6780.html?print=1& [accessed 13 February 2020].
POE Edgar Allan. ‘The Raven’. Poetry Foundation. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48860/the-raven [accessed 13 February 2020].
‘Raster graphics’ (2020) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raster_graphics [accessed 13 February 2020].
‘Vector graphics’ (2020) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vector_graphics [accessed 13 February 2020].
Fusheng Tang. 2005. Optical Illusions 1. Flickr [online]. Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/enet/26521372 [accessed 14 February 2020]. License available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode [original image not modified].