“Photography: A Critical Introduction Pt. 2”

Continuing with the book. Who invented photography? And the history of photography. The grand claims, simplifying years of history and ignoring the little steps. The changing fashions in the approach to history of photography. Starting points and summaries. Different perspectives too. The influence of the museum. The widening of approaches from white men..the masters. The influence of other disciplines on the approaches. Giving a great width the view. Photography as history, representations. The directions taken by critics and how they can grow out of starting points, and how this may influence their statements. Vested interests and blindness. And the trajectories of the views. Things to keep in mind when reading the critics and when reading photographs.

Chapter 2 gives an overview of the use of photography in the outside world (as opposed to the internal world of art?). The belief in the truth of the photograph and the power that this might have. To collect and form empire. To collect , inform, reform, define the other. The power of the image. The move away form the camera doesn’t lie position. The doubts and the artifice. Rebellions against this, the attempt to redefine or embrace these elements  and yet to continue to convey a message. The embracing of photography by the other. The evolving status of documentary. Its movement through media from news to gallery. Attempts to take on criticism  and to move onwards.  New concerns which seem to collect the ordinary, the un-exotic or prehaps its just the same story. The rejection of documentary as an element that actually builds the constructs that bind. (It’s interesting how timelines are constructed in art history and how prehaps they neglect items to construct a smooth narrative. Or begin to define things in tighter and tighter coils till inaction seems to be the only option). Documents as society smashed and the key fragments displayed. The fading of black and white into colour. The ironic. The citizen photojournalist….or not. The modern age. The documentary photos of disaster and anger that did not start out as documentary. Does documentary require forethought? To set out with this purpose?  The present “Photoworks” has some interesting discussions about the  “citizen photojournalist”, a round table on the student protests, artistic surveillance of police, Iraq and Egypt, amongst other items. Lots about self documentation in photography and around crisis and conflict. The removal of the professional journalist from many situations and how many key images are created by those”inside” the situation. Or even creating it.


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Filed under May 2011, Readings

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