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Existentialism Group

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Admin:Gary Hill

This group was created 6 years ago, has 297 members, and 8,622 photos added to its collection.

Existentialism is a philosophical view that concerns itself with the enigma of human existence. Individual human beings are deemed to have no 'essence' before their existence. Our existence is merely a basic fact; we are simply conscious beings who have found ourselves thrown into an absurd world devoid of intrinsic meaning. Our destiny is not fixed in any way. There lies ahead of each human life an undetermined future of infinite possibilities. We are “condemned to be free” as Jean-Paul Sartre so eloquently wrote. We are at liberty to ‘become’ ourselves in just about any way we choose. Madman or family man, slayeress or saintess.

A sense of ‘existential’ anxiety is observed to inevitably follow from the realisation that there is no meaning to life other than what we are individually able to muster. Ironically, each human being has no choice but to (perhaps unknowingly) accept this freedom and act on it in some way.

We may absorb, to varying degrees, the meanings offered to us by others who have gone before us, alleviating the anxiety with the salve of myths and thought-potions. In which case we are said to lead an ‘inauthentic’ life, abrogating the reponsibility for own existence to some hive mind with shared beliefs. Our species has created many different ways to become Borg; to be assimilated. Or we may decide that resistance is not futile, take a free leap into our existential anxiety and so forge our own unique path in the universe. We are now said to live an ‘authentic’ existence.

And in so doing we make total our commitment to our own being and give individual meanings to our lives. These meanings result from our experiences, emotions, actions, responsibilities, and thoughts, and they may manifest as secular or religious or even perhaps some combination of the two.

Thus we must accept that we hold total and unique responsibility for each of our decisions and actions. There is no longer the security of any group responsibility, no shared guilt to fall back on. We are forever acting alone in the universe.

So, the question arises: do we, as photographers create 'authentic' images informed from our own meanings or merely record the world around us?

And how do we do this, considering that all the materials we use to capture images, the cameras, the lenses, the electronics, the films, have all been made available to us by others?

Yet, when capturing an image the photographer is 'condemned' to make choices.

So what is it that we create that is uniquely ours? And does that depict our existential condition and meanings to life?

Let's share images that somehow convey the notion that our approach to photography is 'authentic'; depicting the choices we have made that lead to the multitude of meanings that, as human beings, we necessarily create to explain the enigma of our existence.

Because personal meaning is open to interpretation all images submitted will be accepted. To be featured, however, images must feature at least one human being, or have the strongly implied presence of a human being, and directly or subtly convey a theme of existential aloneness or personal meaning. And have artistic merit, of course!

Here are some examples of existential photography and some articles that may be of interest: