To know, or not to know, and to know – the question of evidence

I stand still at the end of an empty street. Looking down the street, I observe the street lamps growing smaller as they recede into the distance. Identical street lamps simply do not grow smaller as they recede into the distance. I merely have to approach each one in turn to verify that indeed they are all still of the same dimensions. But, standing at the end of the street and looking down the street, they really do look to the eyes as if they are growing smaller as they recede into the distance. A similar experience to this one could have easily served as one of the impetuses to the drafting of what came to be known as the theory of linear perspective.

The theory of linear perspective enabled painters to create credible illusions of depth on a flat surface. But why do we call our renderings of space on flat surfaces illusions of depth? Are these renderings of ours illusory simply because they are rendered on paper or canvas, hence not really real? While looking at the world we came to understand what could effectively deceive the eye (while at the very same time sniffing the sulphureous fumes of that deception), and then applied those understood deceptive mechanisms in our paintings and drawings in order that we could relishingly deceive ourselves again – again, knowingly unknowingly – while looking at our handmade renderings. Our renderings on paper or canvas are illusory because our knowledge of these illusions knows of no yardstick by which to measure itself, grounded as this knowledge is in its self-conscious surety of perpetual ephemerality.  

All paintings and drawings are based on deceptive, so-called classical, principles, principles such as those embedded in theories such as the theory of linear perspective. 

If these, so-called classical, principles are essentially deceptive, they can very well be applied to intentionally deceive someone… knowingly. Hence the reason why the paintings of Salvador Dalí look no less real than the paintings of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

But, horror of horrors, what if photographs should start to deceive us?

The pixel is dead. One could say the same thing about a stone. But if one had to compare a stone to a pixel, one would have to eventually concede that the stone is infinitely more animate than the pixel. The pixel is dead; and the bitmap is a cemetery. All digital images are dead; and there lies their potency. For if reality can be represented by the bitmap, which is essentially a tessellation of differently coloured squares, one then need only apply the knowledge of geometry, for example, to it in order to give the bitmap “life” and meaning and make it manipulable. There is absolutely no ontological difference anymore between the analogue photograph and the digital photograph; the digital photograph happens to be more easily manipulable than the analogue photograph; digital and analogue photographs are similarly stupid. Being both dumb, they cannot give evidence and they cannot ever be considered evidential. The aim of technology is to make the tessellation of the bitmap ever more finer, to mask it, in order that the bitmap becomes perfectly aligned with reality. In doing so, the bitmap essentially ceases to be itself and is transformed into an invisible omnipresence. Technology, then, aids the bitmap to fulfill its mission of becoming the complete work of (art?) deception. Accounts of image manipulation then become simply hearsay. Needless to say, the image is determined by the pixels, yet it always lies embedded in that virtual ether present just behind the pixels. There is just no way of foiling deception; images are slippery fish.

Elsewhere we said: “‘the photographic’ is the simulacrum; the simulacrum has no original. And also: ‘the photographic’ is the simulacrum of itself; the simulacrum is ‘the photographic’.”

And in that same blog post we went on to say “that paintings evince ‘the photographic’, but that ‘the photographic’ could have only become known and identified as such with the invention of photography.” To substantiate that claim, we argued: “remember a painting, evincing ‘the photographic’, is still heropoiito, that is something done by human hands. Photographs, just like the Veil of Veronica, are acheiropoieta, that is things not done by human hands. Photographs, being of divine origin, assume for themselves and their close painted kin the right, as images, to index themselves. No wonder, then, that the art of painting preceded the art of photography.”

‘The photographic’ is deception.

The only thing left real after this devastation is ‘the knowing’.

Featured Image:

By Jules Bastien-LepageUnknown source, Public Domain, Link