Bate, David, Otherness

Notes on Otherness

Bate, D. (2022) Notes on Otherness, Photography as Critical Practice. Bristol: Intellect Books

QuotesContents – no index


Foreward by Alfredo Cramerotti,

Form Leading Practice
While reading around on literatures on the idea of form in order to write this foreword, I came across Plato. 1 According to the philosopher, and contrary to what one may think, form is not the exemplification or a delineation of an object, but its very essence.
That is to say, without form, a thing would not be the kind of thing it is – or what we assume it to be.

This presents form as a sort of idealization of an object, more than a description or a feature of it. It seems to indicate that, in order to achieve a goal, we need first to imagine a form for it, and then proceed following a set of ‘visual instructions’. This, in turn, reminds me of the teaching of the theatre director and playwright, Jerzy Grotowski.
For him, one needs to have a ‘rigorous’ internal structure to be able to shape cultural forms with the force of life. 2 Conversely, it is necessary to have a strong pressure in life to be able to respond with the greatest of the discipline of forms. This suggests that, the more ‘intense’ a life is – the denser both on psychological and material level – the more form is important as an instrument of the thinking process, and as a tool for physically shaping outcome.

It follows that the kind and variety of forms we seek, employ, and generate in our daily occupations – be these aesthetical, operational, or ethical – function not as outcomes of the cause/effect duality of thought and action, but as the very quintessence of the discerning process itself – necessary before even setting off for what we want
to achieve. In short, employing a certain ‘discipline of forms’ becomes the generative and organizing principle for human culture. Moreover, it epitomizes a method of accountability to our living environment.

1. See Russell Dancy, Plato’s Introduction of Forms (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004);
William David Ross, Plato’s Theory of Ideas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951); and
Clyde Pharr, rev. by John Wright, Homeric Greek: A Book for Beginners (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985).
2. See Gabriele Vacis, Awareness: Dieci giomi con)erzy Grotowski (Milan: Rizzoli, 2002).


Foreword: Alfredo Cramerotti
Introduction Critical Practice

Perfect Harmony
Photography and Colonial Vision
Train up a Child
European Letters
Baroque Space and Boredom
Politics of Friendship
The Digital Age
Zero Culture
Interview: Art Without Coincidences Elina Ruka

Places of Memories, Places to Change Katrin Kivimaa
The Other Side of Seeing
Syntax as Photowork
Beauty of the Horrid
Notes on Beauty and Landscape
Space of the Other
The Broken Image
Parveen Adams Bungled Memories

AFTERWORD: The Uncanny Observed Liz Wells