I agree, and I think you make an important observation with “the act of projecting upon”. Often we forget, as image makers, that there is a necessary second moment of interpretation, by definition out of our control. The first interpretation is obviously that of the photographer making the image, the second that of viewers interpreting that same image, an image that they can never fully contextualise.
I find myself – as a viewer – always wondering about that first interpretation, what drove the decision to make this image in this exact way. Of course I’ll never be able to know this, so I project, not only my reality upon the photograph, but also my reality upon what might have been the first interpretation of the artist.
The fig leaf of course forever being in the way, making it impossible for me to see, leaving me with my projection. And at the same time most probably protecting me from disillusion were I able to understand.
Why disillusion? Because not understanding is the most powerful drive. It pushes us to jump, to experience, to learn. The last Homo Universalis died a long time ago, but I can’t help wondering what he felt at that precise moment when he had pushed all fig leaves aside and said to himself “and now I know everything there is to be known”. I doubt it was joy.
As a human being I’m a social creature. I absolutely need to be in this constant state of projection, relating to other humans around me any chance I get, dependent on the other even in my act of being alone, instinctively pushed forward by my will to understand; my lensless eye, my umbrella.
Just like a dog, I am never lost, only walking to be found. You?