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What is barebones and why do I stress that even this site is linked to that notion? And what on earth has it got to do with street photography?

I have wondered about this myself but have not yet found the final words for explaining the connection. So, you have to live with what is written here.

I used the name barebones for the first time in late 2007, when I planned to do a blog on communication. It was named barebones communication. It seemed to be the right word for the right project. Barebones Communication is still the mother blog for all that have happened later. This blog stands on the same pillars. (For an overview of activities, please see The Raw Material.)

Remember I was always a student of phenomenology. That goes back a long way. I still am, by the way.

The word phenomenology is a combination of two Greek words: phenomenon and logos.

Phenomenon could be explained as that which is observable.

Logos is a bit more difficult to handle since it has so many meanings.

Aristotle used logos in a special way and set it apart from pathos and ethos. Pathos having to do with emotions, and ethos with conduct or morality. Logos had to do with reason and argumentation. We will explain logos as reasoned discourse, or simply as science.

Phenomenology, literally means a discourse/science that has to do with what is observable. It is an approach to and a method of describing. Phenomenology is sometimes called radical empiricism. There is absolutely no hocus pocus in it. It is a method for a radical and consequent description.

Combining phenomenology and photography you are combining four Greek words: phenomenon, logos, graphé and phōtos. Photography means drawing with light.

We do not need to get closer to a definition than this.

Where does barebones come into it? I will tell you now.

A fundamental notion in phenomenological theory is "the things themselves". Another expression for the same is "in the flesh". Phenomenology has to do with the things themselves. Phenomena in the flesh.

I was looking for a word that could describe the same idea. Bringing phenomena down to the bare bones of communication and photography. Later on street photography, as well. I ended up with barebones in one word. Simple as that.

Now you know why there, from time to time, is a reference from photography to phenomenology to barebones. And will continue to be so.

Let me add street photography to all of this. Remember that street photography as we define it, more than anything else, is an approach to things? The pictures do not literally have to be shot in a street.

The first time that definition occurred was in On Every Street, the Facebook group established in May 2011.

Doing phenomenology (and that is what it is all about) you always start your investigation at a specific point in your life. At a specific time.

You operate in a lifeworld in a natural attitude to things. This natural attitude implies a direct, spontaneous, unreflective interaction with other people much of the time. Maybe even most of the time. Maybe even in the streets. See what I am getting at?

Again, it is not the streets that are important here, it is the approach you you take to your streets. Or to yourself, for that matter.

The interaction with people in certain surroundings is the shooting field for street photographers. What was is again? Street photographs have to be a) shot in a public area; b) un-staged and/or posed, c) have people as the bearing element; and c) be straight photography.

The idea is that street photographers are the silent, engaged and respectful documenters of what goes on around us, the lifeworld that we all engage in. That world carries everything else. Even photography.

It is important to add that a phenomenological approach to photography, and/or street photography, does not neglect or ignore other approaches to photography. That would go against the very nature of phenomenology. But it might find them less fascinating, engaging and dynamic.

Something like this.

Have a good day :).

March 7, 2012.


The Artist

Copenhagen, Denmark, February 2012.
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

  • Leica D-Lux 4

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