Photography: An attempt to map photography and the dynamic relationships it forms with social, political and aesthetic systems.  

A very large percentage of our brain is used for processing visual information; that makes humans highly visual beings. What we perceive from our senses, especially our sense of sight, transform into meaningful representations of the world around us. For a large part the saying “seeing is believing” goes a long way, as people readily accept the image they see whether it is through their own eyes or though a photograph. Photography enables us to “see” and thus “experience” a wide range of experiences through space and time without us having to physically be there.

Political systems (be they governments, corporations or other organizations) control social systems by projecting their representation of reality to the people. By doing this they propagate and establish their version of accepted aesthetic systems. Image manipulation is an invaluable tool for them – as they shape/distort/influence our understanding of reality.

Images that enter a society have the power to transform it. Those that manufacture the images have the power to manipulate them as they fit to bring about desired changes within the social system. Usually this shifts the balance between ethics and aesthetics; resulting in a diversion, suppression or cover up to keep the society from understanding the realities.
©2005 Shahee Ilyas. Please email comments to