Those occasions when the taking of photographs is relatively undiscriminating, promiscuous, or self-effacing do not lessen the didacticism of the whole enterprise. Although there is a sense in which the camera does indeed capture reality, not just interpret it, photographs areas much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are.
InSontag published a partial refutation of the opinions she espoused in On Photography in her book Regarding the Pain of Others. Whatever the limitations through amateurism or pretensions through artistry of the individual photographer, a photograph--any photograph--seems Photography essays books have a more innocent, and therefore more accurate, relation to visible reality than do other mimetic objects.
Gasswriting in The New York Times, said the book "shall surely stand near the beginning of all our thoughts upon the subject" of photography.
It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge--and, therefore, like power. It was only with its industrialization that photography came into its own as art. But since it is, to begin with, a printed, smooth object, a photograph loses much less of its essential quality when reproduced in a book than a painting does.
The inventory started in and since then just about everything has been photographed, or so it seems. Starting with their use by the Paris police in the murderous roundup of Communards in Junephotographs became a useful tool of modern states in the surveillance and control of their increasingly mobile populations.
For one thing, there are a great many more images around, claiming our attention. But despite the presumption of veracity that gives all photographs authority, interest, seductiveness, the work that photographers do is no generic exception to the usually shady commerce between art and truth.
Even for such early masters as David Octavius Hill and Julia Margaret Cameron who used the camera as a means of getting painterly images, the point of taking photographs was a vast departure from the aims of painters.
Photographs really are experience captured, andthe camera is the ideal arm of consciousness in its acquisitive mood. Photographs, which package the world, seem to invite packaging. Sontag says that the individual who seeks to record cannot intervene, and that the person who intervenes cannot then faithfully record, for the two aims contradict each other.
The first cameras, made in France and England in the early s, had only inventors and buffs to operate them. This very insatiability of the photographing eye changes the terms of confinement in the cave, our world.
There is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera.
Newspapers and magazines feature them; cops alphabetize them; museums exhibit them; publishers compile them. Sontag argues that the proliferation of photographic images had begun to establish within people a "chronic voyeuristic relation"  to the world around them. But print seems a less treacherous form of leaching out the world, of turning it into a mental object, than photographic images, which now provide most of the knowledge people have about the look of the past and the reach of the present.
In deciding how a picture should look, in preferring one exposure to another, photographers are always imposing standards on their subjects. From its start, photography implied the capture of the largest possible number of subjects.
For many decades the book has been the most influential way of arranging and usually miniaturizing photographs, thereby guaranteeing them longevity, if not immortality--photographs are fragile objects, easily torn or mislaid--anda wider public. In one version of its utility, the camera record incriminates.
As she argues, perhaps originally with regard to photography, the medium fostered an attitude of anti-intervention. She also explores the history of American photography in relation to the idealistic notions of America put forth by Walt Whitman and traces these ideas through to the increasingly cynical aesthetic notions of the s, particularly in relation to Arbus and Andy Warhol.
That age when taking photographs required a cumbersome and expensive contraption--the toy of the clever, the wealthy, and the obsessed--seems remote indeed from the era of sleek pocket cameras that invite anyone to take pictures. To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed.
The sequence in which the photographs are to be looked at is proposed by the order of pages, but nothing holds readers to the recommended order or indicates the amount of time to be spent on each photograph.
A now notorious first fall into alienation, habituating people to abstract the world into printed words, is supposed to have engendered that surplus of Faustian energy and psychic damage needed to build modern, inorganic societies.
To collect photographs is to collect the world. Photographs are perhaps the most mysterious of all the objects that make up, and thicken, the environment we recognize as modern.
In this context, she discusses in some depth the relationship of photography to politics. The subsequent industrialization of camera technology only carried out a promise inherent in photography from its very beginning: In another version of its utility, the camera record justifies.
It includes no bibliography, and few notes. What is written about a person or an event is frankly an interpretation, as are handmade visual statements, like paintings and drawings.
Photographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire. This idea did not originate with Sontag, who often synthesized European cultural thinkers with her particular eye toward the United States.
They are stuck in albums, framed and set on tables, tacked on walls, projected as slides.Impact of Photography and Film on Art. To explore how photography and film have changed our notion of art, we must elude to Walter Benjamin’s essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical.
On Photography BACK as they still are when served up in books. of the photographic record is photography's "message," its aggression. Images which idealize (like most fashion and animal photography) are no less aggressive than work which makes a virtue of plainness (like class pictures, still lifes of the bleaker sort, and mug shots).
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Hardcover. Apr 18, · Moving beyond photography, there is the poet Mark Strand’s wonderful little book on Edward Hopper (), in which each discrete unit .Download