Photograph as an act: toward information visual education

Published date01 October 2018
Date01 October 2018
AuthorAna Cristina Santos Pérez,Gerardo Belmont Luna
Photograph as an act: toward information
visual education
Ana Cristina Santos Pérez and Gerardo Belmont Luna
Academics of Biblioteca Francisco Xavier Clavigero, Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de México, Mexico
Purpose This paper is based on the analysis of a few photographs published by El Heraldo de México in 1968 about the student movement. The
purpose of this paper is to consider the photograph as an act in which the observer is included. From this point of view, the observer could identify a
discursive line of the newspaper and build an independent interpretation. The librarian is an observer.
Design/methodology/approach It is a theoretical description about the objective character of the photographs published by El Heraldo de
México in 1968. Considering photography as an act, this paper proposes to empirically identify the whole context of three cases of photographs of
the newspaper, as examples.
Findings Based on the contextualized interpretation (or photograph as an act), the photograph is identied as an information object and,
therefore, an epistemological object, too. There is a relation between the image and the building of knowledge, through the interpretation of the
Research limitations/implications There are many studies about cataloguing and classication of images, but there is no study on the
theoretical implications. The theory presented in this document comes from the work of other specialists and from other disciplines.
Practical implications Learning to read visual information is as necessary as reading texts. The visual world waits to be decoded. And the
twenty-rst-century librarian knows how to organize, preserve and disseminate documentary collections (as photos). Value is how to nd, access,
decode and build knowledge over them.
Originality/value In this document, the authors take a position in the library discussion about the image as an information object. Also, this paper
promotes development of theoretical studies about this topic by librarians.
Keywords El Heraldo de México (newspaper), Information visual education, Movimiento Estudiantil 1968, Photograph, Photography act,
Paper type Viewpoint
1. Introduction
We have a question: Is a photographan objective or subjective
thing? As photos become a social document and they are used
in mass media to inuence collective thinking, this point has
been associated with the form of knowledge construction.
Because what wesee becomes a model about the reality.
There is no doubt about how the photo is a technique and
technological object thatextends an audiences way of looking.
The result is a specic form of thinking. If this is so, we would
have an objection: a photograph is restored by the observer; by
giving it its own interpretation, photography is tied to an
interpersonal subjectivity. In photojournalism, the practice
extends to extensive use of the image. And in correspondence
to the above, each user of the newspaper would have his own
meaning of the images he is exposed to. If the user also
considers the text that accompanies the image, the path of his
own interpretation shortens and he assumes the textual
explanation to be valid. Whathappens when that text seems to
go beyond the image? If the text is written using qualifying
adjectives, implicit in the interest and orientation of the editor
(something that is common in mass media), it inuences the
viewer in a specic way. The interpretation of the image is null
or almost null because anotherhas gone ahead to describe
the image, and the viewer, left to assimilate what has been seen,
assumes the explanation of the text as true. This perspective
leaves the image without effect and turns it into a subjective
object, in which photography is anchored to the meaning of
another. But whatwill happen if that observer is instructed to
readthe images beyond the text that may accompany them?
Would photography go to objectivity as a valid source of
This paper conrms this position through the analysis of
some pictures published by El Heraldo de México in 1968 about
the Movimiento Estudiantil. In this case,the intention of using
photographs in the newspaper was to show that the students
were communists and their purposewas to starta revolution. In
the present day, we know that this is fake, and collection
photographs are used to keep the social and the historical
memory. However, collections of photographs are only
described, and no work is done to analyze information about
their content. We propose not a simple analysis but a really
iconic act itself. The scope of this photographic act is dened,
and three exercises are carried out. In the analysis and
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on
Emerald Insight at:
Collection and Curation
37/4 (2018) 158163
© Emerald Publishing Limited [ISSN 2514-9326]
[DOI 10.1108/CC-03-2018-0008]
Received 9 March 2018
Revised 16 April 2018
Accepted 3 May 2018

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