From Einstein’s restricted relativity to Husserl and Merlau-Ponty’s phenomenology, from Gestalt’s psychology of the shape, to the more recent research in the cognitive field on consciousness, evidence insists: you cannot say one without saying two. Existence is a matter of relations, there are no absolute subjects but only relations, there are no figures with no background. And the view camera in its transformation from a closed suitcase to a more complex form – in which the film, next to the ground glass, is separated from the lens and between them the bellows stretch – does nothing but creating a distance, make a connection.
Therefore, although with no indication from Francesco who did not want to weaken the strength of the title, I adventure myself to interpret this 1:1 in this sense: on one side the photographer, on the other side the photographed subject and between them the view camera, symbolised by the two grammatical dots in the semicolon, because its function is to distance two spatial places, to spatialise.
The photographer sees himself, in the sense that his position is illuminated by the relation with the photographed subject; the latter obviously takes a position and achieves an existence only through the relation with the agent, the photographer, who, although hidden under the black cloth, is no longer secret. It is a perceptive circle whose vitality stabilises itself, settles and gives strength and meaning – or alternatively, if it fails, weakness and nonsense – to the image imprinted in the silver paper. In other words, what we read in these images is the result of a connection. This does not mean that a photograph can only be interpreted in its being an index – i.e. only in relation to the existing physical subjects in reality, in the flesh, plastic or metal. Photography does have its aesthetic autonomy, a closure, whose balance and game of shapes, coincidence of shadows, lights, lines and colours take for many photographers an almost obsessive importance, and Francesco is no exception.Furthermore, the relation between the figure and thebackground is not accomplished simply between the photographer and the subject – where according to the direction of reading one can be the background and the other the figure – but is also within photography itself and, even a more important element for a photographic book, between photographical pairs.
A telephone could be the ironic background to the sleep of a worker, the verdigris of a kitchen to the white of an overall to the less explicit contrasts background-figure that the reader has to find and make active.