Week 9 – Critical Theory Exercise

The photo I have chosen is one from my project work at Coul Links.  I was photographing the steading buildings when I encountered this object.

Coul Farm_31Mar18-4481.jpg

In examining this photograph from a purely indexical point of view, one would see a lug wrench in an advanced state of corrosion such that the layers of iron have begun to separate and give the impression the end of the tool is blossoming.  It is also possible to observe the tool is balanced over the top of a fence that is constructed of a wooden top rail with metal mesh below whose hexagonal shape mirrors that of the wrench.  It is a close up (macro) still life in genre.

If one were to examine the photo from a semiotic perspective and attempt to perceive “the difference between what we see in the picture and the actual reality it depicts” (Bate 2016) there is perhaps much more to be concluded from the photograph.  One might discern from the type of fence that this photo might have been taken on a farm.  The state of well weathered fence and the corroded lug wrench balanced atop it suggests the farm is no longer a going concern and has fallen into a state of disrepair and neglect.  A farmer on a running farm would be very unlikely to leave a tool in the open, abandoned for such a period as to allow that degree of corrosion to occur, and if the tool were broken it would not be left in a place such as this where an animal could run into it.  The blossoming rust at the end of the of the wrench serves as a metaphor for the disrepair and decay that is going on around it throughout the rest of the buildings and farm property.  This photo asks the question “What else is going on beyond the boundaries of this image?”  Absent other images, this photo requires us to imagine and an extrapolate from the close up view the author chose to use about what surrounds it.

BATE, D., 2016. Photography; The Key Concepts. 2nd edn. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

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