Florida Beach

Florida Beach309
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2 Essays

  1. woodroofe says:

    If the previous photo presents a social thing de-composed, prompting questions about the relation between knowing and ruination, Tanur's photo seems to offer us the opposite kind of scene. It presents a veiled object rather than an radically opened one, and raises questions about how to come to know the unknown. On the surface, the photo has a ringing clarity. The title names a specific, legible place, 'Florida Beach'. The composition is sublimely simple. Arranged in classic thirds, the steely blue sky mirrors the gray of the sand, and between them is the unquestionable subject of the photograph, repeating in slightly different hues, extending beyond the frame in both directions. But what is it?
    Or maybe 'what is it' is the wrong question. Someone familiar with this beach (or perhaps any Florida beach) would probably know what is under these blue covers. And yet knowing this fact, being able to explain the photograph in this way, wouldn't actually engage the force of the image. The subject of the photograph is not whatever lies underneath the covers, but the forms made by the covers themselves, which insist, in rhythmic repetition, that the viewer look at something without (yet) knowing what it is, that she rest in the space of observing the unknown. 'Florida Beach', like the image of the man in the half-smashed house, captures a kind of strangeness lodged in the everyday. In the first instance, an ordinary object has turned strange in the phase of its unfurling. In the second, Tanur has found sur-reality in a landscape of mundane objects by focusing on the phase when they remain stubbornly obscure.
    'Florida Beach' suggests a different kind of ethnographic gaze than the one that would pull a house apart to really see it. Tanur's photo positions the viewer in the stance of someone new to a place, someone attentive to surfaces, intensities and patterns without yet knowing them in the way an inhabitant could. This resonance or spark that comes with being strange to a place is an important component of sociological inquiry. The forms that emerge in these moments of initial encounter often infuse social analyses with a poetic force that they would not otherwise possess. Passing along some thread of this initial unknowing, even as we seek to pull open and explain, is part of what we have to offer as observers of the social worlds we move through.

  2. woodroofe says:

    If the above photo presents a social thing de-composed, prompting questions about the relation between knowing and ruination, Tanur's photo seems to offer us the opposite kind of scene. It presents a veiled object rather than an radically opened one, and raises questions about how to come to know the unknown. On the surface, the photo has a ringing clarity. The title names a specific, legible place, 'Florida Beach'. The composition is sublimely simple. Arranged in classic thirds, the steely blue sky mirrors the gray of the sand, and between them is the unquestionable subject of the photograph, repeating in slightly different hues, extending beyond the frame in both directions. But what is it?
    Or maybe 'what is it' is the wrong question. Someone familiar with this beach (or perhaps any Florida beach) would probably know what is under these blue covers. And yet knowing this fact, being able to explain the photograph in this way, wouldn't actually engage the force of the image. The subject of the photograph is not whatever lies underneath the covers, but the forms made by the covers themselves, which insist, in rhythmic repetition, that the viewer look at something without (yet) knowing what it is, that she rest in the space of observing the unknown. 'Florida Beach', like the image of the man in the half-smashed house, captures a kind of strangeness lodged in the everyday. In the first instance, an ordinary object has turned strange in the phase of its unfurling. In the second, Tanur has found sur-reality in a landscape of mundane objects by focusing on the phase when they remain stubbornly obscure.
    'Florida Beach' suggests a different kind of ethnographic gaze than the one that would pull a house apart to really see it. Tanur's photo positions the viewer in the stance of someone new to a place, someone attentive to surfaces, intensities and patterns without yet knowing them in the way an inhabitant could. This resonance or spark that comes with being strange to a place is an important component of sociological inquiry. The forms that emerge in these moments of initial encounter often infuse social analyses with a poetic force that they would not otherwise possess. Passing along some thread of this initial unknowing, even as we seek to pull open and explain, is part of what we have to offer as observers of the social worlds we move through.