09 November 2006

Photography: A Very Short Introduction

"The photograph is an aid to vision and what matters is what it can be used to see, not its supposed status as a literal copy, and certainly not its adherence to one particular visual tradition. The fundamental question at stake ... is ... an issue of social relations and of the ways in which the apparatus is actually employed. Perhaps stripped of this simple version of realism, photography might emerge with a stronger, more sustainable conception of representation and evidence."

I just received this new introduction in the mail today and so have not read it through. But the conlusion, from which this passage is drawn, makes me eager to plunge in. The point sesems to be that what we require is a theory of photography and its uses.

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3 Comments:

Blogger John Bates said...

An excellent recommendation. I'm halfway through it, and enjoying it tremendously.

14 November, 2006 22:39  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

I think it is a good book too. My main gripe is that Edwards fashions his arument around the doucmentary/art distinction rather than challenging it. The distinction was basically invented by Steiglitz in order to gain access for photography to art institutions like museaums. But from (at least) Lewis Hine through Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, et, al. to, say, Gilles Peress and James Nachtwey,
photographic "documents" have had clear, crucial aesthetic dimnesions that make any hard and fast differentiation implausible. WHile I agree with Edwards that the distinciton is real, that is so only in expecctation and convention. We would, I suspect, best be rid of that conventin.

14 November, 2006 23:41  
Blogger John Bates said...

He does give several nods to the fuzziness of the distinction, particularly in the Street section. But the (very short) form is also (very limiting), forcing him to simplify some complex discussions. I was taken aback by the one-sidedness of his take on early social reformers like Riis, but then I realized that the discussion I *wanted* to read would have easily filled another chapter. Or another book, for that matter.

15 November, 2006 23:53  

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