Wednesday 4 May 2016

The Intentional Object

It is a convention that every thought must contain within it an intention, we must love 'something', desire, hate or fear 'something'; we are accustomed to comprehending feelings through this frame of reference. However, the objects that we should be projecting our feelings towards can be confused, disguised or substituted by more palatable alternatives. The object that, for instance, anger is projected towards can feel too dangerous so we can substitute it with another, all be it other human beings, things, lovely shiny pretty things, food, drink, drugs, God, sex, art. What's yours?

Because we feel we must place our emotions 'somewhere' we can easily find proxies to escape the intensity of our actual feeling perceived as too painful, risky (or even good). When deploying these engrained tactics of evasion and projection, the 'source thirst' will of course never be satiated, whilst that which is being evaded remains unrecognised. Immersion in this cycle is so culturally engrained that the origins of feelings can feel lost and substitutes seem the only normative solution.

This can be very useful in a consumerist society in a trillion pounds of debt, the onus now being on us to save the economy one latte at a time.

If this notion that you are some fleshy programmed machine of the state is not your idea of happiness, all is not lost, the line is never broken to those feelings you are escaping and that sense that something is not quite right is actually where the hope is. If you don't feel like this, congratulations on being a well balanced member of society, you may go.

Here is a triptych of my godson Jake; his intentional object for the purposes of this discussion is the glass of water, mine is him, the exploration of thirst is shared. The image is an illustration of the status quo and unfortunately not a clue to any solution. I find a useful exercise is to just try and be angry, sad or happy and hold it allowing the emotion to exist or alternatively explore the feeling attaching itself to the recurring intentional substitute object I.e. that fourth biscuit. It can be gruelling but it only feels so difficult because we are out of practice.

The link to photography is a bit obvious in so far as we as photographers feel we must also choose a subject or a figure from the ground. If we are not fully aware of the forces influencing our choices it is inevitable that all our images will be different from each others', which does define a style in the fine art practitioner. But as documentary photographers this challenges our sense of the interpretation of objective truth.  We don't need photoshop to manipulate our images when we are perfectly capable of altering the present reality in front of the lens consciously or otherwise.

Jake with a Glass of Water © Richard Ansett 2016