Impartial Validity probes the relationship between self-representation and self-validation. This probing arises from an unsatisfied attempt to validate my own trauma associated with combat and selfhood. I find myself drawn to photograph banal objects that seem to reflect me, using representation to authenticate the experience of trauma. I feel a connection with these objects before I photograph them. Yet, once I have rendered them as images, I discover that the tenuous connections between the objects and myself were wholly created by the potential of the camera in my original encounter. These connections have little or no reality outside of the photographic realm--they are structured by and through my sense of what they will be when imaged. Thus, these representations provide little or no validation to the world or to me. Embracing the "machine," the camera as a tool of healing and self-realization, I failed to convey how I felt or feel in relation to this trauma. Impartial Validity deploys the camera as an automatic rifle; I shoot everything I see arbitrarily and indiscriminately, using direct flash at point blank-range. This approach functions as an acknowledgment of the absurdity of my initial attempt to represent myself truthfully. This process utilizes disorientation and blur to speak to the idea of lack; the process renders visual my belief in the limitations of photography as a tool of literal representation. Further, this idea of lack positions the images in a state of amnesia, serving to free the images themselves from past memory or any semblance of immediacy. This allows the images to act as stand alone objects. The larger than life size of the prints removes the images from the everyday mundane experience of the objects photographed. This creates a space to posit the work within the viewer's own experience.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Photography, Artistic--Themes, motives; Photography, Artistic--Technique; Artists' books; War neuroses--Pictorial works; Post-traumatic stress disorder--Pictorial works
Department, Program, or Center
School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)
Ahmed, Salah, "Impartial validity" (2013). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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