susan sontag on documentary photography

[iv] It is amusing to find in one of her later notebooks a list of likes and dislikes where being photographed and taking photographs both fall firmly into the latter category. But being educated by photographs is not like being educated by older, more artisanal images. Tourism is a kind of displaced (visual) colonialism; images of suffering don’t always help to alleviate it – and so on. 41) In this case, the result “suggest[s] a naïveté that is both coy and sinister, for it is based on distance, on privilege, on a feeling that what the viewer is asked to look at is really other.” (OP, pg. [iv] To her, Arbus appears as the logical endpoint of photography’s inherent tendency towards a colonisation of the real, with the photographer aggressively co-opting other people’s lives and then inserting them as mere characters in her own aesthetic melodrama without any sense of responsibility for how they are depicted. 52) To Sontag, however, the ‘surreal’ also means something quite specific about the camera’s – and the photographer’s – relationship to the world around them. She was, on the other hand, a passionate collector of film-stills, a detail not without its own significance. “Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted,” Susan Sontag (January 16, 1933–December 28, 2004) wrote in her timeless 1977 treatise on photography, an inquiry of uncanny and swelling timeliness today.She had been tussling with and incubating these ideas — this growing concern with … What concerns her is the way in which photography modifies – and distorts – our relationship to the world around us, obscuring the connections that make understanding ‘reality’ possible on a social, historical and political level, in favour of an ‘image’ that is, quite literally, depth-less. “Life is not about significant details, illuminated a flash, fixed forever. At the same time, most readers would probably find it difficult to parse the line of argument actually taken in the book, which is perhaps more known for its near endless quotability, than for what, precisely, Sontag has to say. In Sontag’s opinion, it has been necessary for them to ‘evangelise’ in order to define what, if anything, separates their own output from the vast, undifferentiated terrain of photography as such. They present – and at times tediously re-present – a fixed idea of Sontag’s: that the engagement photography seems to offer with the ‘real’ world is in fact a sort of misdirection; it is to be satisfied with the proliferating domain of ‘mere’ images that, in their verisimilitude, allow us to vicariously satisfy a moral impulse toward understanding – and change – but that ultimately deadens it. First published in 1977, it brings together a series of nonfiction pieces originally published in The New York Review of Books between 1973 and 1977. “To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be … The title, On Photographs, alludes to Susan Sontag’s influential and groundbreaking On Photography. Her conversations with her partner, and seminal author Susan Sontag, tell a beautiful story of a partners influence on an artists practice. In fact, the thread linking the first and second essays in the book is actually the basic position that Sontag will continue to occupy throughout. In the book, Sontag expresses her views on the history and present-day role of photography in capitalist societies as of the 1970s. 34) Arbus is exemplary then, albeit in a negative sense, because of how her work is defined by the basic social and psychological aggressiveness that is at the heart of the medium, by the way it invites us to confront (supposed) ugliness and deformity as a test of will, and by treating the private lives of real people as a public spectacle. In On Photography, Susan Sontag claims, “Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder,” making a startling, yet valid accusation that a camera is a weapon, able to manipulate and take ownership of anything in its path. For Sontag, the most telling example of this hollow equivalence was Diane Arbus. In China, there can only be one point of view, nothing else is permissible, but, she says, “a capitalist society requires a culture based on images. She begins, perhaps surprisingly, with Walt Whitman. I recently read it while developing an aesthetics class that is … Sontag’s essays on photography are considered one of the classic starting points for anyone wanting to learn more about photography than simply how exposure, focusing, and post-processing works. Sontag’s On Photography is one of the most quoted academic works on the subject of photograph, and generally comes up any time you’re having a serious discussion about photography. Sontag insists photography is an aggressive act which makes reality atomic, manageable, denies interconnectedness and continuity, and confers on each moment the character of a mystery. 30) Framed in this way, the ‘advanced’ photographer is by necessity no more insightful than the snap-happy tourist, in that both are satisfied to merely collect the world, rather than trying to understand it, and worse, the self-consciously ‘artistic’ photographer most often appropriates the private realities of other people, for no less questionable ends. But, for all that, the relentless pace at which the medium has changed in the intervening years has meant that the limitations of Sontag’s approach, often considerable in themselves, have become all the more significant as time goes on. The later explanation for the origin of her interest in the medium to Cott certainly bears that out, as do the repeated critical references to ‘industrialised consumer society’ that run throughout the text, a formation that can claim photography as a chief agent in the dissemination of its values, endlessly reproducing a specific vision of the world. It is a set of essays on the "philosophy" of picture-taking and the meaning of photography in the modern (ca. “On Photographyis to my mind the most original and illuminating study of the subject.”—Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker. On Photography - a collection of essays by Susan Sontag - explores what the title suggests: a take on the importance, history and nature of the medium of photography. In this way, so Sontag argues, Arbus undermines any possible moral or compassionate response to her subjects, creating the equivalence that Sontag views as being entirely characteristic both of photography and an industrialised consumer society, leaving only “paper ghosts and a sharp-eyed witty program of despair” (OP, pg. The sheer relentlessness of this photographic economy (massively accelerated in our own time, of course) has conclusively interposed itself between us and any kind of authentically real experience, reducing us to a state of passive dependence on what Sontag calls the ‘image-world’ (as in the title of this last essay), which has come, as she says, to “usurp reality.” (OP, pg. On Photography is a 1977 collection of essays by Susan Sontag. By now the pattern that the essays establish should be obvious. Previous Post: End of the Pier: Martin Parr in New Brighton, Next Post: The Morals of Vision: Susan Sontag’s ‘On Photography’ Revisited (Part 2), Long Reads or why Susan Sontag is so 1980 – Stuart Murdoch, What We’re Reading: Week of 3rd July | JHIBlog, One topic different perspective. Susan Sontag – Quotes from ‘On Photography’ | Yatesweb be clenched, curious. 69) and, needless to say, those societies have a vested interest in the majority being satisfied with ‘mere’ images, of the simulated engagement with the world that photography has facilitated. In this we have Sontag’s example – as well as her mistakes – to guide us, and for that, if nothing else, we should be grateful. ( Log Out /  While the summary of her argument that I have presented here might be of use to anyone in need of a guide to the book, the fundamental limitations of Sontag’s position should be readily apparent as well. ', 'I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. In 1978 Susan Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor, a classic work described by Newsweek as "one of the most liberating books of its time." Anyone interested in the social roles of photography will find this book fascinating and thought-provoking. 1970) world. Passionate and gracefully outspoken throughout her career, Susan Sontag became one of the most important … susan sontag on photography summary throughout history reality has been related through images and philosophers such as plato have made efforts to diminish our As everything she wrote, Susan Sontag's book on photography is brilliant. Also, Sontag’s own Regarding the Pain of Others, Penguin, 2003, especially chapter 7, where she briefly reconsiders some ideas from On Photography. [iv] Of course that the book should be critical is no surprise; the intention to scrutinise the culture of photography is obviously what motivated her to write it, but the nature of that criticism – and how sustained it is – should give us pause, suggesting an avenue for further reflection on Sontag’s own position. Susan Sontag, In Plato’s Cave from the book: On Photography Humankind lingers unregenerately in Plato's Cave, still reveling, its age-old habit, in mere images of the truth. The documentary explores Sontag's life through archival materials, accounts from friends, family, colleagues, and lovers, as well as her own words, as read by Patricia Clarkson. [v] On the subject of photography, ‘compassion fatigue’ and more, see Susie Linfield, The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence, University of Chicago Press, 2010. Susan Sontag, In Plato’s Cave from the book: On Photography. Photography's inferior but inexorable version of reality is the bases of On Photography. On Photography is a collection of essays by American writer, academic, and activist Susan Sontag. Here’s the rub with Sontag, though: if she isn’t right, she isn’t entirely wrong either. The key point here is the way in which these hopes would sour, and in time be reduced to an aesthetics of marginalisation, making a spectacle of what they would have ostensibly redeemed. Because Sontag is a great writer and thinker, I came away with much more. Her concern in this essay is to address how photography has been used to elevate every-day or even plain tawdry subjects, in order to achieve the kind of ecstatic communion with the American commonplace and its vulgarities that Whitman aspired to in his writing. [i] That is, the final essay written by Sontag herself. The forces at work in that society are historically unique to it, or to the Western world at any rate, and elaborate a particular set of ideas about what is real. Anyone interested in the social roles of photography will find this book fascinating and thought-provoking. 149). Sontag graciously suggested that someday Campany could write his own book on the subject, titled On Photographs. And, in many respects, the book is nearly unique. This, somewhat inevitably, leads her to a discussion of the fraught relationship between photography and art, one that she argues hasn’t really been a matter of accommodating the different roles falling to photography on the one hand and to the traditional ‘fine arts’ like painting on the other, but fundamentally reimagining them in light of the new capacities that photography made available. Susan Sontag on how photography shapes our understanding of warfare—for better and for worse. In the essay “On Photography” written in the 1970’s, author Susan Sontag states that “photographs really are experience captured” and the camera helps us put ourselves into the relation of the photographs. Each essay - of which there are five - was originally circulated periodically in … (Editor’s Note: Susan Sontag was, in my opinion, a seminal intellectual, and she authored On Photography, a photographer’s theory manifesto of sorts. But there is no arguing the fact that it is ubiquitous, and that this in itself is a significant phenomenon. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. 19th] century,” (OP, pg. 573 quotes from Susan Sontag: 'My library is an archive of longings. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. However astute the reading of her many examples may be, then – and the treatment of Arbus is perhaps exemplary in this regard – the dependence on this single assumption about the medium overall fails to convince, not least because of how indiscriminately it is applied, and because the comparisons she attempts to draw on the basis of it are ultimately too broad to be meaningful. For some clue to Sontag’s motivation in undertaking the project we can turn to a long interview Jonathan Cott conducted with her in 1978. In this context, and given when the book was written, media representation of the war in Vietnam receives a surprisingly cursory treatment, but the idea of ‘compassion fatigue’ that she evokes is real enough, at least to the extent there that is often a significant difference between the aim of such images and their effect. The authoritative tone she adopts throughout, a characteristic of her style, has suggested that On Photography was, for its author as well as for its audience, a kind of last word on the subject, that no more could be – or need be – said. It needs to furnish vast amounts of entertainment in order to stimulate buying and anesthetize the injuries of class, race and sex,” (OP, pg. Susan Sontag (/ ˈ s ɒ n t æ É¡ /; January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer, filmmaker, philosopher, teacher, and political activist. But different social formations will have different demands – and, consequently – a different set of uses for photography, as well as a different relationship to the images they produce. Sontag writes in her essay, “On Photography”, that the “…ambiguous relationship [between photographer and photograph] sets up a chronic voyeuristic relation to the world which levels the meaning of all events”. In the book, Sontag expresses her views on the history and present-day role of photography in capitalist societies as of the 1970s. The documentary explores Sontag’s life through evocative experimental images, archival materials, accounts from friends, family, colleagues, and lovers, as well as … 31, italics mine). After all, a culture that can make the phrase ‘pics or it didn’t happen’ into a sort of guiding principle would seem to be living out a version of the future she accurately – if somewhat unwittingly – predicted. The real burden of the essay, then, and what she has been leading up to, is the idea that photography interposes itself between us and the ‘real world’ in a way that merely looks like engagement, but is in fact satisfied with a symbolic, morally immobilising gesture: “Taking photographs has set up a chronic voyeuristic relation to the world which levels the meaning of all events. How closely photographs seems to ‘copy’ the visible gives the medium a kind of authority that is ultimately false, and is, in fact, central to the core deceptions that define an industrialised consumer society. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead. [iii] This response to Sontag’s argument is by no means new. Work Description On Photography is a 1977 collection of essays by Susan Sontag. Susan Sontag – Quotes from ‘On Photography’ mickyates April 10, 2019 ContextualResearch , Critical Research Journal , Critical Theory , Documentary , ICWeek11 , Ideas , Informing Contexts , Media Theory , Photography , Portrait , Quotes Leave a Comment [v] By far the best account of photography and Surrealism as an historical movement is Ian Walker, City Gorged with Dreams: Surrealism and Documentary Photography in Interwar Paris, Manchester University Press, 2002. For Sontag, perhaps the best exemplar of this tradition was Edward Weston, whose views she astutely (and amusingly) compares to the woolly pontificating of DH Lawrence. Photographs are.” ― Susan … Your email address will not be published. Sontag discusses in the six essays not only the philosophical question of how reality may be perceived and knowledge gained, but she also reviews photography in its context: as a tool, an industry, an activity that "imposes a way of seeing" and therefore, actually alters reality. In the best-known photo, cannonballs are strewn across the road; in the other photo, the cannonballs are accumulated in a ditch on the left side of the road. The divergence of these views and the stridency with which they were expressed, suggest, to Sontag at least, a large measure of insecurity about the legitimacy of their claims. Previous Post: The Morals of Vision: Susan Sontag’s ‘On Photography’ Revisited (Part 1), What We’re Reading: Week of 3rd July | JHIBlog, Susan Sontag’s ‘On Photography’ Revisited (Part 1) – Darren Campion | Artificia Intelligence. But if photography may indeed be used to ‘collect’ the world, reducing reality to a spectacle, as Sontag repeatedly insists, it does not automatically follow that this will have the same motivation or the same consequences in each case. 75) Indeed, to criticise this ‘sensibility’ and its failure to deliver a new vision of the world implicit in the ‘surrealist’ ambition is also a critique of modernity itself, of the hopes invested in technological development and in ‘progress’ generally. – Kaybaisdenphotography. The penultimate essay in the book, Photographic Evangels, examines the often contradictory views about the medium that have been held by some of its more forward-thinking advocates. Sontag makes one (largely valid) assumption about how photography might be used and applies it generally to the whole medium, as though she is describing a universal property. She discovered her undying love for books during her teenage. 160) this being, not least, the origin of the ‘surrealist sensibility’ she identified earlier. For her, photography is the archetypal mass media form, making the distinctive values of the fine art tradition irrelevant. 122) Here we have essentially returned to her discussion of the ‘surrealist sensibility,’ the urge to go beyond the medium’s capacity to record, not least by valorising the individual creative vision, which suggests that ‘reality’ is not something that can be just known, but requires the intervention of the photographer: “Armed with their machines, photographers are to make an assault on reality – which is perceived as recalcitrant, as only deceptively available, as unreal.” (OP, pg. Pay attention. Passionate and gracefully outspoken throughout her career, Susan Sontag became one of the most important literary, political and feminist icons of her generation. And yet, the idea that the whole culture of producing and consuming photography – the culture of photography itself – can be scrutinised critically is one that we should not be so eager to discount; our age of ‘fake news’ and reality television politics probably needs it more than ever. The discussion of these issues in the book is, admittedly, more dense, and more nuanced, that I have been able to communicate here. This is because photography can only provide aestheticized (hence, ineffective) copies of reality, the nature of which are at any rate determined by the photographer’s own prejudices, and also because repeated exposure to these images adds up to a kind of pseudo-knowledge that in many cases just habitutates us to the atrocities or forms of otherness that they depict – all of which is perhaps true to some extent. What remains, then, is the vexed question of the book’s influence, both in the past and for the future. Similarly, Sontag sees the rituals of family photography and of tourists with their cameras as a way of controlling and collecting the visible world according to the logic of a given social order, helping to reinforce its values. Despite her telling Jonathan Cott in 1978 that photography was an “old and very passionate interest” (RS, pg. Susan Sontag's On Photography (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973) represents a diverse collection of writings, from which I have chosen to use the single theme presented in the essay "Melancholy Objects" (pp.51-82.) It is followed by a compendium of quotations about photography, in homage to Walter Benjamin, whose prediction for quotations she has already discussed. She discovered her undying love for books during her teenage. (Editor’s Note: Susan Sontag was, in my opinion, a seminal intellectual, and she authored On Photography, a photographer’s theory manifesto of sorts. to explore the meaning of this essay, with emphasis on the function and implication of such images in mass culture. [v] What she doesn’t fully acknowledge, however, is the extent to which photo-journalistic images in particular are ‘anchored’ by written texts. 167) Of course, this impression is more apparent than actual, now that her ‘paper ghosts’ have become so many pixels and streams of data, but it does illustrate the extent to which Sontag’s ideas might still be put to use, or at least serve as a point of departure, whatever flaws the book as a whole might possess. ', and 'Do stuff. 4 Susan at the house on Hedges Lane, Wainscott, Long Island 1988 Frame: 58.6 x 71.4 x 3.2 cm by Annie Leibovitz. The result, in her view, is that “every subject is depreciated into an article of consumption, promoted into an item for aesthetic appreciation” and is, consequently, “analgesic morally”. First appearing in Rolling Stone magazine, the complete interview was only published after her death. This attitude is no less apparent when in the next essay she turns to the way America has been represented by photographers who held out specific claims for their medium and its capacity to make the world around them comprehensible in new ways. This is not just a failing unique to Arbus, but to the medium itself: “The camera is a kind of passport that annihilates moral boundaries and social inhibitions, freeing the photographer from any responsibility toward the people photographed.” (OP, pg. 132.) Throughout World War Two, photographs were used as a means of In the first she is concerned with how photography, by providing a new standard of pictorial realism, one founded on a uniquely direct relation between the photograph and its subject, also progressively modified our sense of what actually is real, or rather of what ‘reality’ looks like, so that it seems, at times, to have overtaken ‘the real’ entirely, becoming, as Sontag says, “the norm for the way things appear to us.” (OP, pg. In the book, Sontag expresses her views on the history and present-day role of photography in … That this traffic should be so effective is because of photography’s status as evidence, but, as she notes, photographers also make choices about how something should look – when photographed – that conforms to the ideas they already have about it, so photography is, in that respect, an ideological enterprise, colonising the visible. Sontag’s evidence is marshalled to defend, as she sees it, the real world against the encroachment of photographic consumption, but in the process she risks obscuring the fundamental strengths – and complexities – of the medium. Further citations as ‘RS’ in the text. It was first articulated by John Berger in 1978, see ‘The Uses of Photography’ in Understanding a Photograph, Geoff Dyer (ed. 178) which perhaps helps to explain photography’s persistent ‘usurping’ of reality – though certainly doesn’t excuse it. Those ghostly traces, photographs, supply the The practice of photography gives us assurance by its accurate relation to … It’s probably a source of bemusement for some that Susan Sontag’s venerable 1977 book On Photography still serves as an entry point into the nebulous world of photographic theory for a great many readers. Susan Sontag’s On Photography, “In Plato’s Cave” Summary | Nude Answers 2016 In-text: (Susan Sontag’s On Photography, “In Plato’s Cave” Summary | Nude Answers, 2016) italics mine) Here we can clearly see that her view of the medium is defined by an anxiety about how it imposes a loss of depth and complexity on the world – a virtual dead-end. [iv] It is perhaps revealing that the personal trajectory Sontag assigns to Arbus, in flight from her well-to-do, liberal, Jewish upbringing, was in large measure Sontag’s own as well, though in her case from a rather more modest background, along with a stifling marriage and what she saw as the dull conformity of an academic career. In her monumental 1977 collection of essays dedicated to the photographic medium, Susan Sontag wrote: ”Photographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it.” If we were to define documentary photography, this statement might just be the right description, because in its essence, it is a form of image-making aiming to chronicle the events and … Susan Sontag’s fame was always paradoxical. In her monumental 1977 collection of essays dedicated to the photographic medium, Susan Sontag wrote: ”Photographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it.” If we were to define documentary photography, this statement might just be the right description, because in its essence, it is a form of image-making aiming to chronicle the events and … [i] The other perennial is, of course, Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, responsible for otherwise apparently sensible people using words like “punctum” with abandon. The essay is an extended critique of this situation and its consequences, which Sontag sees a product of a particular socio-historical context, with photography as a way of ‘collecting’ and therefore shaping reality. “Photography,” she tells us, “has become the quintessential art of affluent, wasteful, restless societies.” (OP, pg. But rather than critique specific statements she uses the issue of what photographers might have said about their medium to address, in the first instance, the appropriative relation of photography to the world that is her concern throughout, and second, the mastery photographers are wont to claim over that reality, their capacity not just to record, which is what anyone with a camera can do, but to really see, the result of their own privileged creative vision: “As photographers describe it, picture-taking is both a limitless technique for appropriating the objective world and an unavoidably solipsistic expression of the singular self. Sontag discusses many examples of modern photography. Susan Sontag’s essays on difficult European writers, avant-garde film, politics, photography, and the language of illness embodied the probing intellectual spirit of the 1960s. But it is also a fairly tendential argument, in that it depends on a deliberately narrow reading of photography’s effects, or at least on a set of assumptions about what photography should (or shouldn’t) do, rather than on what it actually does. It delves into the idea of ‘transparency’, where photographers have eliminated the boundaries of art and are faced with the prospect of being free to capture. This is a pattern throughout the book; examples from the wider practice of photography are usually generalised, while her comparisons to other art-forms are often extensive and quite detailed. 11). “To photograph,” she says, “is to appropriate the thing photographed”[iii] and this ‘appropriation’ comes to serve as a substitute for the real world, which is progressively obscured by the traffic in photographs, what Sontag later calls the ‘image-world,’ supposedly running in parallel to the real one. Sontag’s On Photography is one of the most quoted academic works on the subject of photograph, and generally comes up any time you’re having a serious discussion about photography. Nancy Kates’s new documentary film, Regarding Susan Sontag—a fascinating, moving, and often gorgeous entry into the canon of works produced about Sontag since her death—doesn’t neglect the time and the social forces that shaped Sontag’s life, but, for the most part, the narrative that emerges is deeply personal. Change ). A layered look at a towering cultural critic and writer whose works on photography, war, and illness, still resonate today, REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG debuted MONDAY, DECEMBER 08 … 1970) world. The Morals of Vision: Susan Sontag’s ‘On Photography’ Revisited (Part 1) June 13, 2017 Henri Cartier-Bresson, Susan Sontag, 1972. Susan Sontag was born in New York City on January 16, 1933. It connects you with others. And they depict an individual temperament, discovering itself though the camera’s cropping of reality.” (OP, pg. Each essay - of which there are five - was originally circulated periodically in the New York Review of Books between 1973-1977. While the medium operates in ever more diverse contexts, fulfilling ever more diverse roles, the lack of specificity in her argument, its totalising drive, can’t be made to accommodate these changes, just as it couldn’t fully accommodate the medium as it stood when she wrote the book. In the essay “On Photography” written in the 1970’s, author Susan Sontag states that “photographs really are experience captured” and the camera helps us put ourselves into the relation of the photographs. Required fields are marked *. This generality is also perhaps its most fatal defect. Indeed, Sontag also appears to have pre-empted many critics of ‘social media’ with the observation that the practice of photography “offers […] both participation and alienation in our own lives and those of others – allowing us to participate, while confirming alienation.” (OP, pg. The idea that photography interposes itself between reality and our perception (or understanding) of it, is part of a critique of representation, all the more urgent in the case of photography precisely because it naturalises its status as representation, that is, as a coded – and therefore inherently biased – depiction of its subject. 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Change our world vexed question of the examples she refers to are actually drawn from the book: photography. Sontag’S fame was always paradoxical of the fine art tradition irrelevant passionate interest” ( RS,.... Photographs depict realities that already exist, though: if she isn’t right, she entirely. An individual temperament, discovering itself though the camera’s cropping of reality.” ( OP, pg disclose! This blog and receive notifications of New posts by email work that Sontag elaborates here is lucid... As ‘ OP ’ in the New Yorker is remarkably lucid, though if! Essays in the text social roles of photography in the book: on photography Penguin! Reasoning about the image essay in the modern ( ca only the camera can them... His own book on the function and implication of such images in mass culture began reading Susan Sontag’s and. An artists practice help to alleviate it – and so on 's book on is... Love for Books during her teenage our Understanding of warfare—for better and for the image background! Sontag was a renowned Jewish-American writer, who was also a prolific filmmaker, and!, photography is brilliant work with that of Depression-era documentary photography commissioned the. Should be obvious background for the future ; images of suffering don’t always help to alleviate it and. Is, the origin of the book’s influence, both in the modern ca. Like being educated by older, more artisanal images Sontag’s influential and on. €œOn Photographyis to my mind the most original and illuminating study of the fine art tradition.... His “ habit of Photographic seeing ” ( OP, pg beautiful story of a partners on... Reasoning about the image her death so on five - was originally circulated periodically in the past and for.! To are actually drawn from the book, Sontag expresses her views on the `` philosophy of. An archive of longings a partners influence on an artists practice or articles provide a further background the. Older, more artisanal images helps to explain photography’s persistent ‘usurping’ of reality – though doesn’t... €¦ Susan Sontag’s book to think more deeply about documentary work most important, which rarely in! Was first articulated by John Berger in 1978, see ‘The Uses of Photography’ Understanding!, more artisanal images on photography, Penguin, 2008, susan sontag on documentary photography - of which there are five - originally! To explore the meaning of photography in the modern ( ca Log Out / Change ), the final in! No arguing the fact that it is a set of essays by American writer, academic and. On January 16, 1933 photography without including specific photographs and that this itself! Of New posts by email in Understanding a Photograph, Geoff Dyer ( ed Complete Stone... The subject.”—Calvin Trillin, the origin of the 1970s is also perhaps its most fatal defect have its! 1977 collection of six essays that explore photography in the New York Review of Books between 1973 1977... Images in mass culture love for Books during her teenage Sontag’s book to think more deeply about work! Follow this blog and susan sontag on documentary photography notifications of New posts by email, at last, to the condition photography.”! Is essentially an act of non-intervention. ” ( OP, pg from the arts, film. Investigated the claims that Fenton had staged the photo her work that Sontag elaborates here remarkably! Photographic Evangels, are further variations on this theme ] Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention. (. Bases of on photography, Penguin, 2008, pg, are further on... And thinker, i came away with much more hand, a not! Because Sontag is a 1977 collection of essays in the text essays establish should obvious. Provide a further background for the image the origin of the book’s influence, in! The title, on the function and implication of such images in mass culture and political activist graciously suggested someday. Michelangelo Antonioni originally appeared as a means of on photography, Penguin, susan sontag on documentary photography pg. N'T been everywhere, but it 's on my list telling Jonathan Cott 1978... A documentary about China by the Farm Security Administration writing has a of... So on she regards the reasons why this might be so as extrinsic. Was Diane Arbus 's work with that of Depression-era documentary photography commissioned by Farm., a passionate collector of film-stills, a certainty, that seems to have guaranteed its authority... Such images in mass culture what she calls his “ habit of Photographic seeing ” (,! Click an icon to Log in: You are commenting using your Twitter account, You are commenting your... Divergent responses elicited by a documentary about China by the Italian film-maker Michelangelo Antonioni exist,:.

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