We are asked “..what kind of information is included in the photograph on the front cover of Rinko Kawauchi’s book Illuminance, shortlisted for the Deutsche Borse Prize in 2012?”
The image is in colour. It is unfocused, overexposed and there is lens flare evident. Yet we can still see that it depicts a rose, a pink rose, in the early stages of opening. We can see the stem, the leaves. It’s a bit like a pink shadow because we have more information about the edges than the centre, though we can see bits of the whorls of petals. In the background, which is largely pink, we can see some more very pale green leaves and a bit more lens flare.
Yet it’s still an image that speaks. It somehow, to me, still captures what makes a rose a rose. It makes me think of roses that I’ve seen, roses that I’ve been given, of the richness of their scent and the softness of their petals. Of the sheer unremitting pinkness.
It’s a gentle image. It’s not sharp as you would see in a garden catalogue, and there’s hardly any depth of field to speak of. It conveys touch. Clearly, a photograph can’t convey touch without a print, and even then it’s unlikely to be the same texture. So I think that this photograph carries the information that I’ve detailed above, but also the idea, the concept, of a rose, for the viewer to decode and extrapolate from as they wish. I think the image relies on the viewer knowing what a rose is, otherwise it is just some gentle pink and green splodges.