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Download Photography and Its Violations (Columbia Themes in by John Roberts PDF

By John Roberts

Theorists critique images for “objectifying” its matters and manipulating appearances for the sake of paintings. during this daring counterargument, John Roberts recasts photography’s violating powers of disclosure and aesthetic strategy as a part of a posh “social ontology” that exposes the hierarchies, divisions, and exclusions in the back of appearances.

The photographer needs to “arrive unannounced” and “get within the means of the world,” Roberts argues, committing images to the truth-claims of the spectator over the self-interests and sensitivities of the topic. but even supposing the violating skill of the photo effects from exterior energy family members, the photographer remains to be confronted with a moral selection: even if to boost photography’s truth-claims at the foundation of those powers or to decrease or veil those powers to guard the integrity of the topic. Photography’s acts of intrusion and destabilization, then, consistently try the photographer on the element of creation, within the darkroom, and on the machine, particularly in our 24-hour electronic picture tradition. during this game-changing paintings, Roberts refunctions photography’s position on the planet, politically and theoretically restoring its attractiveness as a truth-producing medium.

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Additional info for Photography and Its Violations (Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts)

Sample text

In this way he means to make the reader party to the machinations of his mind rather than the (retroactively imposed) evolution of a career. Thus Twain’s autobiography professes to be more about the process of remembering than about the events of his life. Two decades before Walter Benjamin wrote his historical theses, Mark Twain had already conceived a form of historiography in “flashlight glimpses” of memory, which he explicitly links to photographic flashes. Twain’s autobiography, like Benjamin’s, adopts a nonlinear, fragmentary form to reflect this concept.

But there are structural and philosophical consequences involved in mixing memory and photography, as well. Mark Twain relates that “of the multitudinous photographs [his] mind [had taken] of people,” only one clear one of his mother remains. As he tells it, his mother’s life was made of up of “flashlight glimpses” in his memory, in this context a direct reference to photographic flashes (Twain 1924, 1 :1 15). This image is remarkably similar to that employed by Walter Benjamin when he creates a figure for “the true picture of the past,” which “can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again” (Benjamin 1969, 255).

Evidence of the urge to imagine photography as memory and vice versa exists already in 1859, when Oliver Wendell Holmes, in an early burst of enthusiasm over the new technology, proclaimed photography “the mirror with a memory” (Holmes 1859). In the early twentieth century, George Santayana argued for an essential similarity between mental images and photographic ones, the signal difference being the relative permanence of the photograph: “The eye has only one retina, the brain a limited capacity for storage; but the camera can receive any number of plates, and the new need never blur nor crowd out the old” (Santayana 198 1 , 259).

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