“The person who has never climbed a mountain has never lived. He merely vegetates on a level plain. What he lacks is the third dimension, the dimension of the sublime.”
– Vilem Flusser, quoted by Michael Najjar 
In 2008 Michael Najjar travelled to Argentina to climb Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas. While there he photographed the mountain and its surrounding peaks using an analogue camera; these photograph later became the basis of his 2010 series high altitude. In this series, the line of these already imposing mountain ranges is altered so that they no longer follow their natural path but instead trace the rise and fall of a number of the world’s stock indices – including NASDAQ, the Dow Jones, the DAX and the Hangseng. One image, perhaps the most potent of the series, deals with one single company: the infamous Lehman Brothers bank, the collapse of which is widely attributed as the trigger for the 2008 financial crash.
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Any discussion on the index, no matter the context, must at some point refer to the writings of C.S. Peirce who, as I noted in my first post on the index, outlined three principle types of sign: likeness (icon), indication (index), and symbol. To recapitulate: an icon is a sign that conveys an idea of the thing it represents simply by imitating it (as in a drawing), an index is a sign that shows something about its referent on account of being physically connected to it (as in a footprint), and a symbol is a sign that has come to be associated with its meaning by usage (as in words).  Continue reading →
I’ve hopefully by now established that the index is a sign with a physical connection to its referent, which might, but may very well but not necessarily also share with it a visual likeness. In my last post, I touched on process as being a key component of indexicality – that it is the process by which something comes into being that makes it indexical or not. If a chemical photograph can be considered an index by virtue of its method of production forcing it to correspond ‘point by point to nature’  can this not also apply to digital media? Continue reading →
In my last post, I identified the index as a sign with a physical connection to its referent; which in photography theory is generally thought to be the imprint of light left on light-sensitive material. I also noted that for many theorists – Roland Barthes chief amongst them – this physical connection to the referent is the defining, or essential, quality of photography. What then is to be made of the numerous claims that digital photography does not share this essential quality? Continue reading →
Before I dive on into to my most recent research and thinking, I thought it might be useful to outline some of the key concepts and research that underpin my current project. First and foremost amongst them: the index. Continue reading →