January 15, 2014
Old/new rhetoric has affected the discourses on photography with the emergence of the disruptive emergence of digital technologies and the shift from analogue to digital.
The embracement of the digital is often seen “through the simple binary dialectic of old and new (old/new methods, old/new ontologies, old/new subjectivities, old/new politics) that has characterized the adoption of new media technologies in aesthetic practice.” Not uncommonly, such dichotomous thinking simplifies nuances by willingness to discard the old for the sake of the new.
This kind of discourse sees photographic images as the products of technology rather than culture. This mode of thinking opposes digital imagery to photography and it sees the latter as realist images---simple mirrors held up to mundane realities. Digital imagery, in contrast, constitute a post-photographic culture, represents the creative realm of constructed realities. On the one hand we have science and objective truth, and on the other, we have art and subjective experience of the artist. This dualism has haunted photography since its birth.
Photography, however, is a set cultural practices with different purposes, and we cannot get very far in thinking about these practices in terms of an autonomous technological force.