Objects of Affect: Photography Beyond the Image article – Thoughts and opinions

In my research, one of the many articles I saw linked multiple times in the articles was Objects of Affect: Photography Beyond the Image by Elizabeth Edwards. With my idea finally focusing on the objects themselves, I thought it would be worth my time in looking at this article to see how appropriate it is.

Straight away the article talks about how there have been some strategies that have highlighted the cultural work that is needed for the photographs (Edwards, 2012); for me I see this as how do these pictures we are taking lie in our culture today? My idea perhaps doesn’t lie in our culture as much as what I am showing, however there is an underlying reason about why I want to highlight why how the appreciation of watches have declined and that they now only invoke memories of the older times.

Not long after she then goes on to say “in which ways are they things that demand embodied responses and emotional affects.”(Edwards, 2012) See I interpret this as how do the objects in photographs make the emotional response needed from the viewer to achieve the intended effect; this can be either through older memories or even through more recent ones as well. This is a subtle link I think to the Making Histories, Making Memories article I looked at in how these photographs/objects are necessary for making these memories. Again later in this article Edwards talks about how “objects specifically made to have social biographies” (Edwards, 2012) which links in to how the objects are designed to specifically tell a story based on what the images are showing. However what is interesting is that she says “objects cannot be understood through one moment of their existence” (Edwards, 2012) which is interesting to note that a brand new object has no sentimental value at all for us, but rather it has to be built up over time, and by building it up a part of you is left with the watch.

Further on, she references Knappet who talks about “photographs can have lives and come alive” (Edwards, 2012) which is an interesting twist as when we see pictures of people, we look at the moment in which they were taken at and what was being lived at the time. However objects can have the same situation as we can begin to think about what these objects have gone through in their life span, which can be highlighted through their marks on their surface. But we also have to think about the different factors that can give to the photo’s or object meaning which gives it weight onto its value.
With the nature of photographs and how they automatically take an image of the past, they have concepts of the past with various memories, the objects have an intended efficacy of bringing out these memories.

On page 224, there is one point made that I think sums up the idea of how the marks on objects can evoke memories for the viewers. “In the process [of viewing] , photographs emerge as a relational or distributed objects enmeshed within various networks of telling, seeing, and being, which extends beyond what a photograph’s surface visually displays.” (Edwards, 2012) What I take from this is that you have to look beyond the surface of the images surface to see what the exact meaning is being shown and why its being show. SO if I’m looking at marks on watches, you may see them but you have to start thinking about what the full story is behind it.

With these objects being precious to certain people, there is a certain right in that they be treated properly (Edwards, 2012); with older watches they hold sentimental value from them being heirlooms given to us from older family members, so we want to treat them properly so that they can hold their value in the way that all the memoirs are preserved forever. Edwards then goes on to talk about “photographs are seldom talked about without being touched, stroked, kissed, clasped, and integrated into a range of gestures”(Edwards, 2012) which highlights how we like to interact with them and the memories they hold; the same can be applied with physical objects as we like to pull them out and use them in the way they were intended for. This is due to how we can understand it better and think about how it was used in the past as well.

Overall, I think this article was useful in thinking about how these objects can live a variety of lives that can be told multiple times within a photo, and how it extends beyond what we see in front of us; for the memories are located inside us and via interacting with them objects, we begin to re-live the memories due to how they hold sentimental value.

Edwards, E. (2012). Objects of Affect: Photography Beyond the Image article. Annual review of Anthropology, [online] 41, pp.221-234. Available at: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-anthro-092611-145708 [Accessed 1 Nov. 2014].


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