One More Word On Defactor

Strange Encounter.© Knut Skjærven.

Strange Encounter.© Knut Skjærven.

One thought takes another. One word takes another.

So here is one more word on defactor or defactoring, that was introduced yesterday.

Defactor relates to the factor of closure, the human ability to fill in missing information so as to create a message that is easy and understandable.

One way to illustrate how closure works is just to have half a person in a photo and let the viewer fill out the missing parts. This is done all the time, and in street photography there is no problem cutting people in halves. Only if is a clumsily done does it confuse.

Here are a couple of examples where closure is executed by the perceiver. They are all from The Europeans: The Statement (half a body is missing); The Silent Reader (half a shoe is missing); and Dirty Dancing (legs plus more are missing). Most people will not have problems reading these picture at all. We are use see bits and pieces in photography.

But closure is also of another sort. A non tangible sort. It does not have to deal with present or non present limbs or other physical objects. Closure has also to do with what is not there. Look at the picture above. We all see what is there, but we can only guess on the reasons why. We wonder (well, some do) about what story is in fact told here. It is a blind date, are the two persons there for one another at all, is it an poster from a fertility clinic as one (male) reader once suggested? Something quite other might be going on.

We don’t know, do we? Nor is it strictly necessary to know.

Look at the images once more. Yes, is an example that well could illustrate the factor of closure. It also a picture where defactoring is happening. The man in the background has been included in the frame to make a suspense of not knowing. To create a tension, an opposition in, or to, the main theme. We have added an element (the man) to induce strain and opposition in the message.

I am getting there. Question: What is it that defactoring does to a photograph? To a street photograph? Does is close it? No, on the very contrary it opens it.

Is defactoring explainable in relation to the factor of closure? Yes, but it flashes an additional side of the coin. That side that tells you that some street photographs are more open than others. Some images more energy of closure to be performed than others. That could well be the general situation: Defactor or defactoring opens up images for a larger variety of interpretations.

Yes, there will be another post on open and closed images. Soon.

Good luck with your own handling of this theme. Give it thought.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen, May 15, 2013.


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  1. #1 by Elisabeth on May 15, 2013 - 7:36 pm

    it’s all about mystery then?

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