Preferred Interpretations, Vagueness and Ambiguity

‘One way to envisage the difference between ‘art’ and ‘documentary’ in photography turns on this relation to language and narrative. In the main, documentary is a closed form, designed to produce preferred interpretations. As such, images are usually combined with some form of anchoring text that steers the viewer/reader in a particular direction. Photographic art, in contrast, typically abjures words, or employs elliptical text, in order to leave the image open to associations and interpretations. For art, vagueness or ambiguity are often the preferred modes.’

Steve Edwards (in Read, 2014)


Read, Shirley (2014). Exhibiting Photography: A Practical Guide to Displaying Your Work. Oxon: Focal Press

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