Realm of Forms – My Image

The Task

Think about Plato’s concept of the realm of forms

Take an image that represents something from the realm of forms


The Concept

Plato created the concept that the world was split into two realms: the realm of physical objects, their images and shadows and the realm of forms, which are perfect, eternal ideas. The realm of forms is made up of immaterial concepts, which we assign objects in order to understand. Love would be an example of a perfect, eternal form and we assign the idea love to various different objects like roses and hearts.


The Image


In response to the task I decided to try and make an image that would represent trust. In this image you can see I have locked my phone and the user has to put a passcode in, in order to access the content. If I trust a person enough to see my the contents of my phone, I would give them my passcode, this for me is a symbol of trust. But in turn, the fact that I put a passcode lock on my phone demonstrates that I have a certain amount of mistrust in the other people of the world, because I don’t want them to see the contents of my phone. In that respect the image could also represent safety, because I feel my information is safe with this passcode lock. I tried to shoot the image to show the numbers, and the prompt ‘Enter Pin’ and make this the focus of the image. I also waited until I had a message so that it could come up on the screen saying ‘Contents Hidden’, to demonstrate that the contents of my phone are hidden and unaccessible to people without the passcode.



When presenting these images to the class, Spencer asked us to remain silent whilst people guessed what the image was representing. This would allow us to see whether the contents of the image were being interpreted as we as photographers intended. The key response to my image was the concept of privacy, that I had put the passcode on because I want to keep my life private, which is a fair assumption linking to the idea of mistrust I wanted to express. However there was another contribution, which was the term ‘nerd’, because of my Fallout 4 background. This was something I really didn’t think about, I took my choice of background for granted because I know that I like Fallout 4. However it seems obvious now that people would pick up on the fact I have expressed my interest using my phone background and despite implementing some element of privacy on my life using the passcode, I have made my like of Fallout 4 very public.

What I hadn’t thought about was the inherent link between this task and previous task of naive realism. By producing an image of an immaterial object, we are subscribing to the idea of naive realism, that our image can encapsulate the entire concept of this perfect eternal form. Is there any image that can capture the entirety of something as complex as love? Our images demonstrated that despite our best intentions, the image will probably never be interpreted in the way we want it to be, because an image can’t represent the whole of reality. That is too much to ask of the technology and of our ability as photographers. Perhaps in response to this task, we should also have refused to take a photograph, because we can never hope to represent a concept from Plato’s realm of forms in a way that the audience can completely understand. This seems to be an extremely pessimistic view on photography, but we have to take a realist approach. In the presentations we saw how dramatically differently an image can be interpreted from the intended meaning: an image of a man and a child that was meant to represent love, was interpreted as a really sinister relationship of a child and a predator. Naive realism is a incredibly relevant concept and should be thought about every time a photograph is taken. Of course this doesn’t happen because not everyone knows about it, however as a photographer and a researcher, I think it is my responsibility now to think about this concept whenever I want to take a photograph.



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