MA Photography Notes
Susan Sontag – On Photography
Photography Fails for Five Reasons
- A photograph is both a piece of time and space. By including or excluding things its arbitrary borders both create and break relationships. The temporal and spatial dislocation results in social reality being presented as small discontinuous particles.
- A photograph only shows us the surface, so it has many meanings and encourages us to deduce or intuit what the reality was like.
- Photography can only give us knowledge of the world if we accept the world as we see it. But this is the opposite of understanding which starts from not accepting the world as it looks. Photographs have a use in giving us a mental picture of things but they always hide more than they reveal.
- While photographs can arouse conscience this is only a semblance of ethical or political knowledge because it is always sentimental ( whether it is cynical or humanist )
- By duplicating the world in such a comprehensive way it has made the world seem more available that it really is.