About

About · photographer, work process, statement, biographical note, education, experimental process, collaborative work & more · contact · site · How it all fits together · about portrait by Henrique Calvet · mp
About·portrait by Henrique Calvet

Miguel Proença (1963) is a Lisbon, Portugal born photographer. Currently based in Portugal (about Lisbon and Tavira) where he works and studies. Photographic work is frequently initiated from a documentary/ reportage standpoint and undergoes an “estrangement” process. This path frequently accesses formalist and surrealist aesthetics. Recent work has drawn on disciplines other than photography. These include painting, sculpture, video, sound and music in a collaborative approach to the creative process. 

Commissioned work has concentrated and specialised over the last decade on the reproduction of works of art. Other commission work has been in various specialty areas namely architecture, environmental portrait, landscape for editorial and other purposes. Formats used include digital and analogical black and white large formats. Samples of this commissioned work can be found in the National Library (Portugal) archives. 

Biographical note

The first conscientious contacts with photography dates to the 1970s in the UK, practicing and studying photography, first at Clayesmore School (Dorset, UK) and subsequently on scholarship at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design (1979-80). Technical skills were furthered at the Instituto Português de Fotografia (1981-83). During the 1998-2001 period continuing studies included documentary photography with Leonardo Brogioni, and photographic language and theory with Emilio de Tullio and Roberto Signorini in Milan, at the John Kaverdash School and at the Círcolo Filológico Milanese. While in Milan work concentrated on street photography for the covers of Free Milano Magazine (2000-01). Other work during this time included Fiera de Sinegallia (1998-1999), Arts and Traps (1999-2000) and the beginning of Alqueva Dam work (2000-2004), with the latter two, more political statements, also published as photo books.

Currently continues a formal theoretical development route, started with the conclusion of a postgraduate degree in Photographic Studies (IADE, 2003-05). This was followed by a master’s degree in Art History at the Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas (FCHS) of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa [dissertation tittle: “Fernando Lemos: “Eu sou a fotografia”” (Fernando Lemos: “I am photography”) supervised by Joana Cunha Leal and Margarida Acciaiuoli]. Currently working on a doctoral thesis at the Faculdade de Belas Artes (U. Lisboa, 2010–) on environmental landscape photography.

Environmental landscape definition

With formal training and practise in agronomy, soil science and farming systems research and extension(BSc University of Florida, 1989), photographic work taps into this body of knowledge, where social issues and pressures resulting from environmental changes serve to ground and orient the construction of documental work. The integration of this life/social sciences training has additionally taken the author towards the idea of an environmental landscape definition. This idea-in-progress (ie environmental landscape definition) currently serves to formulate questions about research project work, particularly in his native country, Portugal, where the beginning of oil drilling and fracking are today (2018) a very real risk due to government policies.

Contact

miguelproenca@me.com

Site

This site is dedicated to photo work, from long term documental and environmental portrait, landscape and more experimental work. The experimental work is in areas such as portrait, environmental landscape definition, cityscape, multimedia and reportage. It is also dedicated to showing work in a portfolio format as a photographer, clearly different from printed versions of the work. Commission work is available upon request.

mp · 2018.


Until “Camera Lucida” 1961-1980, on Barthes

In the Photographic Message (1961), Roland Barthes approaches photography from Semiology, through denotative and connotative codes, the latter necessarily bound to culture. “Signification is a dialectic process that solves the contradiction between natural and cultural man”. In this process the paradox of photography is presented, where an inert object is converted into language.

 In Camera Lucida (1980), Barthes approaches photography differently, trying to establish the terms of reference – outside of semiology – to understand its essence, or, what differentiates photography from other types of image. In this sense Barthes offers the idea of equivalence between the referent and its photographic representation. To this representation he adds the concepts of studium – the general interest raised by photography – and punctum – the incisive and poignant detail, to arrive at the awareness of photography as “this was”. The association of “this was” with the notion of punctum, expands the equation to include Time, and, necessarily, establishes the link between the photographic image and Death[1]. Connecting these concepts, Barthes proposes the idea of photography as adventure, should the spectator decide to embark.

Conclusion

It is notable that Barthes liberates himself from the semiotic approach from previous work to try and understand photography’s revelatioCamera Lucida shows us the path of this  adventure – personally and culturally loaded – and at the same time points out the limitations of theories originating in linguistics in approaching the photograpic image. Death permeates the work and, I don’t know if by chance, Barthes was killed by a laundry truck while crossing the street, the year Camera Lucida was published.

 [1]. The connection between staging/theatre established in the work also submits to Death.

Bibliography

Barthes, Roland, Chambre Clair, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1980.

Barthes, Roland,Le message photographique, in Communications 1, (?), Paris1961

*This article was originally written in Portuguese in the context of Art History. This post is the first English version, written in 2014. It was originally published on the blog Photography as Device [PAD] a On photography: Until “Camera Lucida” 1961-1980. That blog is no longer maintained.

The English tittle  “Camera Lucida” is misleading, as it specifies indicates a device instead of a concept.