Welcome to Postdivine Photography. I have chosen the postdivine as the embodiment of the feeling I have when I survey the status of photography today. Perhaps there is a feeling that the post-sacred nature of photography has in the diametrical sense become also post-profane. If George Bataille could view the world of images now maybe he might like that description or maybe he would just be overwhelmed by the prolific nature of the image, his senses would not become ‘divine ecstasy and it’s opposite, extreme horror’ (1.) (Bataille.G. 1989, P206) which Bataille experienced when viewing an image he had become obsessed with, an image of Chinese torture hundred pieces (2). Imagine now another image of a horrible and brutal death that of Colonel Gadaffi who died on 20th October 2011. Gadaffi was essentially hit by shrapnel from a bomb, stabbed with a bayonet and then attacked by rebels. He was shot in the head probably after he was already dead (3.). Why use this example? After his torture and death people queued up to take his photograph on their mobile phones so that they had a trophy of his downfall. Here there was not one image but a plague of images until, like reading the Marquis De Sade, the litany just becomes nauseating.
Fig.1. Colonel Gadaffi Dead
This seems like an odd way to begin to discuss horror and ecstasy but the photograph since its invention has always been used to capture extreme moments, important moments in ordinary life, aesthetically pleasing objects and people, horrific scenes/crime scenes, sex and the human body, everything in fact that a human being would want to freeze in a moment to keep until the end of time. This I would say at least used to be true...
1. Bataille G. (1989) Tears of Eros, City Lights Books. San Francisco
2. Ibid. The image was published by Dumas and Carpeaux in Traité de Psychologie (1923)
3. McElroy D. (17th October 2012) The Telegraph Online, Colonel Gaddafi died after being stabbed with bayonet, says report, [Online] Available: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/9613394/Colonel-Gaddafi-died-after-being-stabbed-with-bayonet-says-report.html (Accessed 17th September 2018)