札幌 Sapporo (2010)







Sapporo (2010) Charlie Gao















Let us perform the following thought experiment:



Take the case of a photographer arriving back at his old school,

where he spent many happy years,

and taking a photograph

on a beautiful and chilly winter day

as the scene brings back to him vivid memories of his childhood.


First of all -

The photographer himself

upon viewing the photograph will recognise the referent, being his old school building, and the connotative associations of happy childhood memories,

but at a meta level,

he may also remember his intention upon taking the photograph –

that it was a beautiful and chilly winter day that drew forth the memories

and moved him to take it in the first place.
A schoolmate of his,

upon seeing the photograph, may share similar happy sentiments, recognising the place and remembering his childhood years spent there.

It is unlikely that he will infer the meta reading, although upon deeper contemplation, it may be possible for him to deduce some part of it.

Another schoolmate,

who does not have happy memories of school may similarly recognise the place, but may conjure up quite different sentiments based on a set of wholly different experiences.

A recent attendee of the school

may recognise the place for being the school at a past time, and he may wonder at this and contemplate the passing of time.

Someone who has never seen the school,

may recognise the building as a school and think back to his/her own school and related memories.

Yet another person

may fail to deduce that it is a school at all and wonder

why someone has taken a photograph of a wholly uninteresting building.


From this example, one can see the difficulty a photographer faces in his ability to communicate his intention with others and how this difficulty increases, or we can say the fidelity of communication recedes, the further removed someone is from the same experiences as the photographer.

Indeed the photographer is the only one who is able to access the referent perfectly, and he is also the only one who could possibly access his intention perfectly at the meta level.