In all art, there is a singular contract that develops between the work itself and the viewer. It defines our specific relationship with that piece of work The contract is unique for every person and every piece of the art – my response to one piece will differ from yours, but not be any less valid. You may like a piece, I may not.
What is important here are not the specifics of the contract. It matters not whether you like one thing and dislike another. Or whether you like something that I don’t. What is important is an acknowledgement of the very existence this contract, and a recognition that it is unique to you at the moment of viewing.
It is a “missing” contract because it can never be fully written. It is never concluded. It will never be fully defined. It is a “dynamic document of the mind,” constantly evolving. It is rewritten with every subsequent viewing of the work in question.
Even a photographer’s own relationship to their work must be seen in degrees of importance. It is possible to enjoy an image immediately without knowing where, why or how it was created. As you come to understand more about the context of the image, your connection with it will change.
What becomes clear is that it is possible for you to enjoy these photographs simply for their own sake, on the one hand, or on the other because you have made the decision to explore the story of the photograph in more depth – to develop the contract further, as it were.