152MC: Narrative Photography

To better understand the objective of this module, I need to gain a more developed view of narrative in Photography. To do so, I am re-reading Phototextualities by Hughes and Noble.

The book itself opens with an interesting quote by artist and writer Victor Burgin

“The intelligibility of the photograph is no simple thing; photographs are texts”

Burgin made these remarks at a time when photographs were only just becoming considered as a legitimate object of study.

“Burgin’s collection shifted debates on photography away from auteurist paradigms derived from art history to a reading practise that privileges the specify of photographic textuality.”

In other words, it appears we owe some gratitude to Burgin who seemingly fathered, or at least nursed, photography into becoming not just an activity but to a relevant way of studying visual narrative. Burgin’s work itself has intrigued me, as I do not agree with the artistic intention of his work Lei- Feng  which is created through Burgin taking another photographers pictures intended for specific media and placing it alongside contrasting text. In TateShots, Burgin is quoted saying “There are already enough photographs in the world…  What we need to do is re-read the images we already have” and to me that seems too final and definite, I believe it to be untrue yet it makes an interesting statement on the idea of recycling images and therefor creating a new narrative from the old. Despite not being a fan of this collection, Burgins 1968 collection ‘Fiction Film’ which is to be interpreted as fractions of a supposedly lost film based on the French surrealist book ‘Nadja’. Images below are taken from Victor Burgin’s page on the Tate’s website.

[no title] 1991 by Victor Burgin born 1941 [no title] 1991 by Victor Burgin born 1941

(More to come from Clive Scott and Roland Barthes)


Hughes, A. and Noble, A. (2003) Phototextualities: intersections of photography and narrative. 1st edn. Edited by A. Hughes. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Tate (2014) TateShots: Victor BurginTateShots. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/tateshots-victor-burgin (Accessed: 19 March 2015)

Gresty, H. (2014) Victor Burgin, ‘[no title]’ 1991Tate. Tate. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/victor-burgin-834 (Accessed: 19 March 2015).


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