Project 2, Photography as Information – Research – Rinko Kawauchi’s Illuminance


Photography as Information

If photographers are “in pursuit of possibilities that are still unexplored in the camera’s programme, in pursuit of informative, improbable images that have never been seen before,” (Flusser, (2000), P37, Towards A Philosophy of Photography) then photographers are shifting the form of information given in an image in order that a particular form of communication of intention might be effected.

The photograph on the front cover of Rinko Kawauchi’s 2009 book Illuminance Image and review (Guardian Online) is a photograph that subverts standard ideas of ‘correct exposure’, retention of detail and the particular form of information that is derived from standard expectations of exposure and detail extraction in post processing. Kawauchi’s image shows a rose that has been quite strongly lit in order that it shows in the image as a more approximate depiction of a rose than that many of us might expect to see in a photograph.

Sean O’Hagan’s review of Kawauchi’s work in 2006, (Guardian) states that “Kawauchi has not given up on the search for the sublime amid the banal. Some of her images, particularly her still lifes, might initially appear to approach the deadpan detachment that characterises so much contemporary art-photography, but on closer inspection there is always some glimmer of hope and humanity.” Whilst the review was written before her untitled cover for Illuminance was published it appears to still hold true.

The approach to the rose image appears to deliver a communication by virtue of a diminishing of information. The highly lit rose is lessened in its detailed accurate denotative capture yet made greater in its moderately abstracted re-written depiction. The intensity of the light used, or the ‘illuminance’ gives a re-conceived image of a rose, where the communication is of an appreciation from a sense of feeling rather than merely seeing visually. As a viewer of the cover image of the book I then feel the ambiguity of the title Illuminance which refers not merely to light and the play of light but to the possibility of finding wonderment in that that is around us and has perhaps already been seen thousands of times. Kawauchi is fulfilling the definition of ‘photographer’ as described by Flusser.



Flusser, V, (2000), Towards A Philosophy of Photography. London: Reaktion Books

O’Hagan, S, (2006), Guardian, [ – last accessed 23/11/2016]

O’Hagan, S, (2011), Guardian, [ – last accessed 23/11/2016]