July 07, 2004

theorizing photography

In his The Pinocchio Theory Steven Shaviro makes mention of Vilem Flusser's book, Toward a Philosophy of Photography. I haven't read it.

Steven gives us a few titbits. he says:


'Flusser is less sentimental and melancholy than Roland Barthes (Camera Lucida), and more concise and rigorous than Susan Sontag (On Photography). He argues that photography represents a higher degree of abstraction than the writing which it has to a great degree supplanted, even as writing represents a higher degree of abstraction than the painted and drawn images that it supplanted several thousand years ago. Photographs do not render the real; rather they transform it into a highly codified sort of "information."'

That opens up lots of possibilities for a visual culture. Photographs become signs in an industrial culture.

SieversW1.jpg
Wolfgang Sievers, ACI Exhibition stand in unidentified location, 1958

So what does 'Photographs do not render the real; rather they transform it into a highly codified sort of "information" ' mean? Have images have become commodities in the digital age? Steven says:


"A photograph doesn't represent the scene, person, or object being photographed, so much as it represents, and fulfills, the program of the photographic apparatus itself, a program that (like any entity under conditions of Darwinian competition) seeks nothing more than its own perpetuation and extension. Where handmade images promoted magical thinking, and writing promoted conceptual and historical thought, photography and all the technical forms of reproduction that have arisen in its wake actually work to program thought, to anticipate it, and to mimic and contain it in advance. To simulate thought, in sum."

The photographic apparatus actually works to program thought, to anticipate it, to mimic and contain it in advance and to simulate thought.

I'm going to hunt down Toward a Philosophy of Photography.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at July 7, 2004 11:35 PM | TrackBack
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