In terms of ‘modern art,’ photography is right up at the top with the latest technological advances in the field of artestry. Our generation accepts photography as an art form, unlike generations from the past that had to fight for this acceptance. People used to consider photography to be a mechanical replication of reality, Sontag describes photographs in terms of being created by “light waves reflected by objects.” I also liked how she said that photography is addicting, because is seems as if everyone takes pictures these days and I think this fact has taken away from the artistic approach. Kind of the “when everyone’s special, no one is” thing of photography. People take pictures of their friends, families, kids, dogs, flowers, vacations, selves. It’s become overwhelming, and frankly who cares about these pictures? So I guess as artists, it is our job to take off-beat photos and stop people in their tracks. Hello egg project, hello photo collage. I’m rambling, bear with me.
“A photograph is not only an image, an interpretation of the real, it is also a trace, something directly stenciled off the real, like a footprint of a death mask.” The history channel recently did a documentary about death masks, which is essentially a plaster (or some other material) mold made from a face. They focused on Abe Lincoln’s death masks and how these masks have helped historians document Lincoln’s significant ageing while in office, leading to the discovery that he had some sort of rapidly deteriorating illness (I forget exactly what they said he had, or what they thought he had). I believe photography is more than art, that photographs are documents, and that in the future they will be beneficial in the same way as death masks have been and I found it interesting that Sontag made this connection.
Photography has a certain appeal to it that, in my opinion, few other art forms have. “Our irrepressible feeling that the photographic process is something magical has a genuine basis.” Photography may be appealing because it is seemingly magical; that with the click of a button an entire scene is easily captured. It may also be because every individual photograph is different, is personal, captures an intimate event, or gives the illusion of posession of a cherished person or thing. In reality, a photograph is a piece of light sensitive paper exposed to the light filtered through a light sensitive piece of plastic someone fed into a machine and exposed to some environment. Photography is an illusion, same as any painting or drawing. This will be especially interesting for our upcoming project, The Indecisive Moment, because there will be no actual event or environment, it will all be fabricated and essentially an illusion inside of an illusion. On the other hand, Sontag says that “photographs are a way of imprisoning reality…of making it stand still.” This is also true of drawings and paintings, except that a photograph is literally taken in an instant where as it takes hours to do a painting/drawing so perhaps light or objects/figures have shifted slightly.
One thing is true about photography ONLY: photographs are exact.