*To be completed*
A pictorial pioneer that laid the grounds for some of my favourite artists—of whom can all, I’m sure—accredit Wall’s bridging of cinema and documentary photography, in what Wall calls ‘cinematographic’, to have played a crucial role in their own works… Other than, of course, paving the way for it to exist, and further to that, for it to exist and for there to be an audience and market for it. Cinematic photography greats, some of my work’s greatest inspirers, the likes of Crewdson and Philip Lorca DiCorcia, took residency in the space opened by Wall in his earlier works.
‘Experience and evaluation are richer responses than gestures of understanding or interpretation’ Wall once commented, and this philosophy is quite clearly evidencable in his work. Photography lends itself to this sort of experience by default, a photograph is not a conversation, they do not deal in concretes, they are invitations, evocators to conversation but nothing more. Susan Sontag comments on this topic in, On Photography, ‘It [a photograph] is a view of the world which denies interconnectedness, continuity, but which confers on each moment the character of a mystery. Any photograph has multiple meanings; indeed, to see something in the form of a photograph is to encounter a potential object of fascination. The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: “There is the surface. Now think—or rather feel, intuit—what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way”. Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation and fantasy’.
This is what Wall’s work is, precisely, ‘invitations to deduction, speculation and fantasy’, but, isn’t this the case for all of photography? Of course. But it isn’t always clear—in fact it rarely is—that a photograph unaccompanied, is nothing more than a evocator for subjective experiences and narratives. Though diminished in an age familiarised with the digital manipulation of photographs, the indexical truth of a photograph still persists to a degree, a degree that was much larger at the time Wall began working in his ‘cinematographic’ manner. As noted by Sontag, a photograph cannot explain anything, yet we see them as too behold some sort of narrative truth. This is itself the very process of deduction, speculation and fantasy, cloaked as truth. Wall exploited this, building scenes with the grandeur and finesse of cinematographers and filmmakers. Wall had reached an epiphany whilst working at an independent cinema in Vancouver, Canada. It was his job to check the physical condition of the prints on the reels of film and it was such that provided him with an opportunity to share an intimacy with each singular frame of an entire film. In doing so, Wall, ‘started to appreciate film as photography and started to think that it was akin to painting and to writing poetry [paraphrased]’, it was within this role that Wall realised a photograph need not to capture a decisive moment, as promulgated by Bresson, and, ‘nor did it have to be a document of an existing place or thing [paraphrased]’. Wall realised that, ‘like a film director, he could collaborate with technicians and actors to create fiction or poetry rather than documentary’, and so his subversion of documentary photography begun, and so too his melding of the fantastical world of film with the dogged notion of the indexical photograph.