Basic Critical Theory for Photography 01 ; Susan Sontag

Basic Critical Theory for Photography 01 ; Susan Sontag

주로 사진의 의미, 내용에 대해서 연구했다.
사진을 찍는다는 행위에 대한 연구.
photographic image에 대한 담론은 그렇게 크지 않다.

photo (2)

this closeness to reality distinguishes photography from other forms of representation. Sontag sees painting, speech, and writing as being a narrowly selective interpretation and photogrpahy as a narrowly selective transparency. p.30.

Photography has become a mass art form and so most people do not practice it as an art. It is a social rite.
Sontag feels this illustrates her case that photography equalizes everything and makes people voyeurs.
Photography determines our sense of events. For her photography is essentially an act of non-intervention. p.31.

Photography is magical as it makes us aware of the subject’s absence and at the same time gives it pseudo-presence. p.32.

Firstly, she states that there can be no evidence of any kind for one until the event has been named and characterized. For her, photographs cannot identify events. Photography follows the naming of the event. Her second point is that a moral reaction to the photographs will depend on the viewer’s moral/political standpoint. p.33.

Sontag links the rise of the percieved importance of photograpny as information with the rise of popular newspapers and the notion of the right to news. p.33.

Firstly, photography is both a piece of time and of space.
Secondly, a photography only shows us the surface.
Thirdly, Photographs have a use in giving us mental picture of things. but they always hide more than they reveal.
Fifthly, by duplicating the world in such a comprehensive way it has made the world seem more available than it really is.

Sontag concludes this essay by saying that people in industrialised socities have become image-junkies needing reality and experience confirmed by photographs. Ultimately, having an experience becomes identical with taking a photograph of it. p.34.

The history of photography can be seen as the struggle between the need to beautify and the need to tell the truth. The need to beautify came from the fine arts; truth telling from both value-free scientific truth telling and from journalism, which both exposed and educated. photography was regarded not only as more truthful in terms of showing physical features, but also in terms of revealing character. p.43.

Photography has changed our idea of reality by establishing the way things should look. p.44.

Although photography broke conventional ways of seeing, the new ways of seeing became the new conventions, and photographs felt these had to be broken. p.46.

Modernist championed photography because unlike painting there is no real distinction between the work produced by amateurs and professionals, or the sophisticated and the primitive in photography. p.54.

Both painting and photographs do however change our visual language. Walter Benjamin argued that an essential characteristic of art was that it has a quality of presence, which he felt photography lacked. Sontag however disagree, pointing out that original vintage photographic prints in museums and galleries do have an authenticity and give visual pleasures that reproduction and latter prints do not have and cannot give. p.56.

Baudelaire’s view of photography as a mortal enemy of painting was widely held. There is a false but widely held belief, that a truce was established by which painting was liberated from representational work and explored abstraction, while photography concentrated on the representaional. However, painting did not simply pursue abstraction but explored photographic ways of seeing, painting the fragment, humble life, motion and the effects of light, copying the realism of photography. p.57.

Most works of art are now known through photographic reproductions. p.58.

Photography has the unique ability to turn any subject into art and creates new aims for the arts. It is the forerunner for the direction takne by both modern high and commercial art, ‘the transformation of arts into meta-arts or media.’ Traditional fine art is elitist; a single artist; a unique work of art; a hierarchy in terms of subject matter, a distinction between the genuine and fake or copyl and an assumption that subject and experiences have meaning. The media are more egalitarian; collaborative; multiple works; all subject matter equally valid; they have an ambivalent attitude towards meaning and originals. she feels this lies behind Marshall McLuhan’s remark that the message is the medium. p.59.

the power of images came to the fore in the twentieth century when the production and consumption of images was perceived to be a major factor in determining whether or not a society was modern. In such societies images determine our demands on reality. p.59.

Photographic images are able to replace reality because unlike paintings, they are more than just images; they are a trace; a material vestige of the subject.

She points out that most contemporary concerns about images replacing the real world are based on Platonic arguments, which, she argues, are misleading as his arguments were based on the relationship between paintings and reality, and photographs have a different relationship. p.59.

Firstly, a photograph is a surrogate possession having some of the characteristics of the original thing. Secondly, photographs give consumers a relation to events that the consumer has both participated in and those events they have not; a distinction consumerism blurs. Thirdly, through photographs we acquire things as information, its effectiveness in giving knowledge without the need to experience things and this makes the second form of acquisition very effective. p.60.

Photography is so powerful because it depends on an optical-chemical or electronic process rather than on an image-maker, this automatic, mechanical, and literal process has created a new relationship between image and object. p.60.

Sontag does not accept Feuerbach’s notion of a fixed reality and changeable images. She feels the notions of image and reality are complimentary. When the notion of one changes so does the other. One reason our society prefers images to reality is that the notion of what is real has been progressively complicated and weakened. p.60.

With the increasing complexity of reality, and the resultant depleted sense of reality, one of the most addictive ways of copying is picture taking.

Photography also fills out reality. Reality is in the present, it cannot be possesed. photography implies instant access to the real.
Photography makes images, not reality, immediately accessible. p.61.

Photography give mock forms of possession; of the past, the present, even the future. p.62.
Sontag argues that exposure to photographs often weakens our feelings when we see the same thing in real life. p.62.

The power of photography has blurred the distinction between reality and images. Plato was able to criticize image as transitory, minimally informative. But the force of photographic images comes from their being material realities in their own right, richly informative deposits left in the wake of whatever emitted them. p.66.


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