Joan Foncuberta – Pandora’s Camera

Joan Fontcuberta is an influential photographer and writer in the area of photography and truth. His project ‘Fauna’ was a comment on the authority held by the image in the context of the photograph as evidence, he manipulated images and displayed them in the Science Museum. This was to challenge the public to really consider whether the content they were seeing was really true. I was introduced to the book Pandora’s camera when it was recommended to me by Matt Johnston in a Phonar lecture in relation to photographic realism. Below are my notes from each chapter:

Introduction

  • Photography is now ‘deterritorialised’, it has no place to go because it is everywhere
  • The Abu Gharib prison case is mentioned as a potential case study

Evaluation:

I am very interested in the concept that photography is ‘deterritorialised’, it has so many places now in society that there is no fundamental medium or practice that defines it. It’s used in art, reportage, medicine and law. This means that there are many different ways and contexts for the photograph, there are many different sets of rules and ethics that are hard to pin down because so many of the photographic mediums interlink and crossover. The Abu Gharib case study is an event constantly being addressed in the context of photography and social media, this story although circulated internationally through conventional media, originated on social media where the photographs were shared by a user involved in the activity. I will definitely be using this example when writing my independent blog post about conventional media and social media.

I Photograph, Therefore I am

  • ‘I am photographed, therefore I exists’ the concept of photography as philosophy enters the discussion in relation to photographic realism
  • ‘Minute men’ – photographers in history who were renowned for their process of producing a photograph in a minute when previously it took much longer
  • Reference to Barthes’ theory of studium and punctum images

Evaluation:

Photography and philosophy is an interesting angle to take on the concept of photography and manipulation. Philosophy is attempting to interpret the world and ethics attempts to interpret the world with a sense of right and wrong. My symposium examines the state of photojournalism and I plan to engage with ethical concepts and establish a sense of urgency that the practice of photojournalism needs to address and combat the issues that have been amplified by digital technology. I have identified previously that I need to revisit Barthes’ Camera Lucida to read the punctum/studium definitions again. Although I am already familiar with them it will be beneficial to read them within the context of his book rather than hearing or reading summary from another individual.

The Eye of God

  • Polaroid and Kodak were the original inventors of ‘immediate photography’
  • References to the credibility of the image, ‘its credibility is coming to rest on the credibility of the photographer’
  • ‘Memory gives them identity and identity makes them real’
  • Digital photography was the product of consumer need
  • The digital photograph is ‘omnipresent’ (everywhere at the same time)
  • Fontcuberta describes that previously some kind of the referent was embedded in the photograph whereas now something of the photograph is embedded in the referent.
  • Attitudes to digital photography are ‘ambivalent’ (a coexistence of positive and negative feelings)

Evaluation:

The term ‘immediate photography’ is definitely something I will address when blogging about the mass image culture and it’s effect on the image. Stephen Mayes writes about instant photography facilitating a new medium of experiential photography, most of this happens on social media. The Polaroid and Kodak inventions were the origins of experiential photography as it integrated photography into the social environment where the process of image-making is quick and can be shared collectively. Fontcuberta sums it up perfectly when he states that digital photography was product of consumer need as the consumer put pressure on photography to accelerate and speed up. As Fontcuberta addressed in the introduction photography is everywhere, however in this section he introduces the term ‘omnipresent’ which is definitely a term I will use in my blogging, if not my symposium paper. The references to memory and the content of the image is also really interesting but not necessarily directly relevant to my symposium paper, if I digress to the photograph and memory then my research paper will get off topic.

The Invisible Image

  • In analogue photography the process of photography and the photograph is consecutive, the film is exposed, the negative is made and the print is made from the negative with the same three steps: develop, fix, stop.
  • In digital photography the existence of the photograph is not consecutive, ‘the latent image and the manifest image are not consecutive… but can exist simultaneously’

Evaluation:

This is the key part of the book for me, the definition of the differential nature between analogue and digital photography. After revising the meaning of latent and manifest I feel this is the perfect description of the different between the technologies. The notion of analogue being consecutive and digital being fluid is exemplary and I will definitely be incorporating this concept into the structure of my research paper. Another writer exploring this concept is Fred Ritchin who likened digital photography to quantum physics where the data fluctuates the more you try and pin it down. I want to combine these two concepts together to make a successful comparison between the nature of analogue against the nature of digital photography.

The Genie of the Wonderful Camera

  • The death of Henri Cartier-Bresson was the end of his work pioneering the defining moment
  • How many images (even from Cartier-Bresson) are actually ‘good images?’
  • ‘The camera brought out the unconscious that lay beneath the gaze’
  • The photograph captures a fragment of reality – it captures a moment

Evaluation:

The reference to Henri Cartier Bresson and questioning whether the multitude of photographs taken by him, and indeed other photographers, are ‘good’ could be a subtle criticism of the mass image culture generated by digital photography. In research paper I have planned a section on the mass image culture, I have identified Marshall McLuhan and Walter Benjamin as two key perspectives however I am now also considering Fontcuberta as well however I might just use his apparent critique in my blog post on mass image culture instead. I have to be concise and conservative with my research paper in order to fit in all the desired content and maintain quality and refinement in my writing. I’m also interested in the concept of the subconscious impacting on the process of photography; objectivity is a hard notion to believe when the meaning and the framing of the photograph is made through interpretation. Interpretation itself is made through the psychology of the individual and each individual has different morals and ethics, therefore one person’s objective representation could be completely different to another. Objectivity it appears is a flawed concept and this is something I want to address in my research paper in relation to responsible representation.

The Perfect Blind Man

  • The excess of seeing leads to blindness from saturation
  • Being blind teaches us to try and see in a different way – blind people use Braille to navigate their way around the world, perception and interpretation doesn’t entirely come from sight
  • All photography is speculation, as it is essentially the unconscious manipulation of a scene
  • No one can have the authority to express absolute reality

Evaluation:

This was a very short chapter so it was hard to extract many defining pieces of information however I was particularly interested in the notion that all photography is speculation as there are always unconscious decisions made in the process of taking a photograph. However Fontcuberta relates this concept of photographic realism, not specifically representation. The photograph as evidence has had a complex history and there are strong links to that and representation however the apparent subjectivity of image-making makes the notion of evidential, objective photography complex. There is another subtle reference to the mass image culture when Fontcuberta claims that the excess of seeing leads to blindness from saturation; we are constantly confronted with imagery of content we have probably seen before therefore we struggle to perceive the world in a different way. Examining blind photography teaches us that sight is not the only form of perception, it comes from the other senses too. Jonathan Worth in teaching his Phonar module reiterates that we are making photography for screens in the digital age, with screens are speakers therefore we must consider other elements such as sound when producing our photographs. This relates to my section on new digital technology, as immersive media and interactive media aims to narrate in a comprehensive manner using sound and other such tools.

I Knew the Spice Girls

  • Ubiquity: the state of being there and everywhere all the time
  • Fontcuberta suggests that analogue photography will be continued by a minority with an interest in ‘craft’
  • Electronic photography introduces a new category of images that need to be regarded as post-photographic due to their production and nature
  • Digital photography is comparative to that of painting in construction – perhaps analogue photography is a mistaken step in the journey of image making?
  • Digital technology generically undermines the credibility of the image because of the capacity to manipulate
  • The shift from analogue to digital also marks a difference in our reception of images
  • The image now is a weightless abstraction of an ordering of algorithms
  • The digital image is just visual data, content without actual physical matter

Evaluation:

The term ‘post photographic’ I think is key in this section, we have moved beyond the analogue process of taking a photograph and developing it. As Fontcuberta states digital photography is more similar to painting, therefore should it be more suited to an art environment instead of photojournalism and reportage? Another key concept in the changing nature of photography is the way viewers actually receive the image; the audience is a key part of the image-making process as Barthes originally identified with his photographic triangle. Although his was limitative and appeared to be exploitative in relation to the subject, we must consider that the audience heavily influences the process of taking the photograph. This is particularly important in relation to the content of the images; Fred Ritchin claimed we have been desensitised to content and it appears that photographers such as Benjamin Lowy have reverted to producing content that the audience can consume easily. Although photojournalists are essentially producing content for the audience, they must still retain control over the content. It needs to remain what is considered to be in the public interest, which means challenging the audience as well as making them comfortable with the world.

Eugenics Without Borders

  • Science pinned photography as a document
  • The camera was used as an element of sociology and social control – Dr Jean Martin created visual files of the insane
  • Photography was used as a guide to track facial expressions – was progressed the examine eugenics, an analytical tool in sociology
  • It was also believed that criminals could be portrayed through photographic documents
  • the documentary function of the camera is under critique and always has been
  • Photography was used as a social Darwinism, documentary to state that certain people were weak
  • ‘the true may not always be believable’, ‘the incredible can sometime be true’ – photography was used to construct social fabrication
  • Eugenics was explored in digital photography with Nancy Burson making a device capable of depicting a human face which was accepted by MIT in 1980 (synthesis portrait)
  • Experiments have been made photographically with portraits of the body combined with other anatomical features
  • There is a confusion between essence and appearance in photography (Juan Urinos)
  • What defines appearance? Picasso’s portraits challenged this
  • Philosopher Karel Kosik ‘can it be that reality is not known with exactitude unless man recognises himself in it?’ – but how does a man recognise himself is he has not seen a depiction before?
  • Matrix Mirrors by Renato Roque explores similarities in appearance, faces are broken down and mapped into matrices of data
  • Robot auto portraits for police – visual example Robot auto portrait of Joan Foncuberta 2005 by Leandro Berra
  • A portrait can’t be counted on as a document of truthful identity, it is open to determination and interpretation

Evaluation:

This section wasn’t as relevant to my research paper as some of the other chapters, it is perhaps more relevant to my Final Major Project as it talks about representation and the apparent link to criminal behaviour. Is a person’s appearance and anatomical features really indicative of their personality? Although not completely relevant it makes links to simulation and fabrication by identifying that a computer can be responsible for generating a depiction of a human face. The interesting comment in this chapter was that a portrait can’t be counted on as a document of truthful identity because it is open to interpretation, therefore famous portraits such as the Migrant Mother couldn’t be perceived as a truthful representation of her situation. For all we know she could be a wealthy individual who simply posed for the photograph; without seeing with our own eyes, we can’t possibly know. It is apparent that there has been a massive loss in trust which is perhaps due to unethical examples of fabrication which I plan to address in my research paper.

Fugitive Identities

  • Identity is defined by its mobility
  • Different activities bring out different behaviours in the individual (which is the true identity?)
  • The concept of mask and the mirror in photography: the public appearance (serious and formal) the private appearance (wild and uninhibited)
  • Living Together by Vibeke Tandberg appears to be a series of snapshots however the viewer recognises that the two subjects appear to be the same person, are they twins? On further investigation one seems to be an extrovert and one seems to be passive (representative of the mask and mirror concept) it was a construction of a family that didn’t exist using digital retouching
  • This work revolved around suggestions of the complexities surrounding identity however they also raised questions over photographic realism and believability (reality and simulation/original and reproduction)
  • Paul Smith explores multiple identities and cloning in his body of work ‘Artists Rifles’ in 1997 – his knowledge of war photography allowed him to create perfectly plausible scenes. In the army differences are frowned upon, it should be one soldier so Smith replicated this idea through digital cloning and manipulation.
  • Dalia Chaveau with the Net art photo project satirises genetic and the exploitation of scientific progress
  • Society = the collective, eternal, obeying. Individual = uncertainty, indecision and inconsistency
  • Our personal experiences are touched by technology – Sherry Turkle in ‘Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the Internet’, computers change us so we think we are entering an illusionary parallel world
  • Windows and other software has facilitated a multidimensional version of ourself, fragmented across different digital outlets, we leave the body and enter the Internet

Evaluation:

This chapter is definitely more relevant to my FMP as it discusses identity, manipulation and the relationship with current digital technology. Paul Smith is a good example of using manipulation to make a statement about identity and his work is definitely something I will be considering in relation to my Final Major Project even though it isn’t directly relevant to my concept. It still links to the ideas laid out in Picbod that identity is something constructed by the individual and presented to the world. In relation to my symposium paper Fontcuberta’s discussions about manipulation and the effect on photographic realism is definitely a concept that is relevant however I have identified he discusses it further in a later chapter.

Documentary Fictions

  • Photos aren’t fact but they aren’t completely fiction – document versus fiction debate
  • Images are at the service of reflection of memory – when we look at the world through other people’s image we see through the filter of memory
  • The authentic essence in documentary photography is being discussed
  • A photograph of the same location but taken at a different time, with different technology and a different photographic style can open the environment up to many different interpretations
  • The act of taking a photograph is sometimes conscious simulation to achieve the desired representation
  • Hippolyte Bayard’s image was a manufactured one – however we recognise this as a corpse can’t take a self portrait
  • Photography is a fragmented form of a story – could photography be made to speak?
  • The staged nature of photography is also a form of manufacture – it could be considered as ‘artistic fiction’
  • Manipulated/staged photography could increase our imaginative capacity
  • The camera invented new ethical categories such as precision and objectivity (this is in the history of photography)
  • We have seen a journey photographically from fiction – documentary – fiction again

Evaluation:

The concept that staged photography is an equal form of fabrication to manipulation is an interesting concept and is definitely one I will be exploring if not in my research paper then my blogging on manipulation. The ideology from David Campbell can be brought in here when he stated ‘the event is not that what happens it is that which can be narrated’ suggesting that the framing of the event is equally important as any post-production. The notion of characterising staged photography as ‘artistic fiction’ is interesting especially in relation to photographic realism. A posed moment can still be though of as depicting an event such as a winning rugby team posing with their trophy; although it could be argued that without imagery of the players in action there is no proof. Photography and truth is a concept I do plan to investigate in my research paper with specific address to the National Geographic cover of the pyramids which Martha Rosler and Fred Ritchin have both written about. I don’t plan to examine it in depth however because photographic realism itself is a massive subject and would take a whole research paper to investigate effectively, I want to make sure my research paper is a balanced investigation into the current state of photojournalism in all aspects.

Ode to a King with no legs

  • Stalin commissioned the removal of undesired political presences from images of himself (archaic form of manipulation)
  • Sebastian, a highly talented Bolivian retoucher is actually employed to do secret work for his own government – to him there is no difference between retouching and physically intervening with an event)
  • Various novels have addressed the notion of manipulation
  • The medium in which a photograph appears is indicative of its authority (we don’t consider the images on birthday/christmas cards to be the truth)
  • At no point was it stated that photography depicted the ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ – it has been interpreted this way by the audience
  • Are camera-less photographs a better representation of reality?
  • There are codes of ethics set out by organisations such as the NPPA which lay out the rules for their photojournalists – this has established the notion that a photograph with no record of being retouched by Photoshop and with no disclaimer attached will be taken as a valid representation of reality
  • It has been known for photographers to abuse their power

Evaluation:

Addressing the National Press Photographer’s Association and their code of ethics is an interesting example and is a practice I have identified in other sources which discuss the ethical practice of photojournalism. When talking about ethics it is useful to compare actions of photojournalists and photo-editors against a set of rules laid out by an organisation operating in the same practice. The important part about this chapter for me is when Fontcuberta addresses that the only way that manipulation can be wrong is in the context in which the audience perceives it. In photojournalism manipulation in considered wrong the because the images are meant to be informative of real life circumstances therefore the notion of photographic realism must remain to some extent. However in conceptual art photography there doesn’t have to be any limitations because the audience looking at it won’t be doing so and expecting to see a representation that is realistic. I have considered a section on the context for which the photograph is viewed in reference to Broomberg and Chanarin however I need to consider manipulation in this section as well. I perhaps won’t include it in my paper because it would look like I am trying to extend the subject of manipulation throughout the argument however I will definitely include it in my independent blog post.

The Mystery of the Missing Nipple

  • Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley posed nude for photographer Annie Liebovitz in 2006 to mark the changing state of Hollywood fame
  • Keira Knightly not having a curvaceous figure has subsequently been manipulated various times in her photographic appearances – perhaps the most well known was the King Arthur (2004) publicity image in which Keira’s breasts were enlarged in the US release.
  • Digital photography has acknowledge ‘corrective’ or ‘adjustment’ retouching procedures in advertising images
  • There are confusions over reality and representation – the ‘cut and paste’ nudes exhibited on erotic websites are completely fabricated however when post-processing changes the form of the actual person, when are we seeing photographic reality?
  • Alison Jackson has played with the desire to visualise fantasy with her images of Queen Elizabeth on the toilet, Elton John giving himself an enema and others of a similar nature
  • There is an ambiguity in relation to reality, the photographer’s power of authenticity is in conflict
  • The work of digital retouching is similar to that of a plastic surgeon however it is more affordable and painless to achieve
  • Ethics is a dimension related to this concept – we must acknowledge that the technology itself is not unethical, but the use of it can be
  • It has been recognised that the retouching itself hasn’t warranted in a fluctuation in the sales of products or views of films
  • The use of digital technology is not innocent and has crossed the line in some cases such as anti-ageing campaign which depicted Twiggy with all her winkles removed
  • We must consider that we aren’t talking about the ethical standard in relation to photography as a mass medium, but advertising specifically
  • Another area photography has great social impact is photojournalism, however this genre is not free of retouching – Keira Knightly’s breast was exposed but the nipple removed in a Spanish publication, this was recognised quickly as the US Magazine Esquires published a version where her nipple was left exposed.
  • Another consideration in relation to retouching is that portraits of celebrities aren’t documentary, they are subjective, artistic representations – the retouching becomes wrong when there are attempts to pass it off as photographic realism
  • Fontcuberta suggests that the audience should shoulder some responsibility and not interpret every image as fact – we don’t attend Disneyland as an adult and think every fantasy is real
  • Is manipulation acceptable as long as the information is not distorted?
  • Reuter’s photographer Adnan Hajj’s 2006 photo of the Israeli Air Raids was criticised as the touch up was very amateurish and attempted to discredit the Israeli Government – the photo editor and photographer were sacked as a result
  • ‘the ready availability of the techniques of trickery creates a collective distrust that is bound to increase’
  • The photographer/retoucher/picture editor all need to take responsibility
  • Pablos Torres Gurrero (2004) image of terrorist attacks in Paris, various versions of the image were displayed, the original depicted dismembered body parts. The Guardian converted the image to black and white which meant the viewer couldn’t distinguish that there was a body part, Time Magazine kept the colour image but erased the limb from the image, Washington Post and USA Today cropped the dismembered corpse out
  • All instances of manipulation as an abuse of power

Evaluation:

This section is particularly relevant in the discussion over manipulation and photographic truth however Fontcuberta raises points that I hadn’t considered before using Keira Knightly. Knightly has been subject to many manipulations as Fontcuberta addresses however he explains that a portrait in itself can’t be perceived as a documentary photograph because it is an entirely subjective, artistic representation. To attempt to integrate a commercial portrait into the photojournalist environment it to manipulate the way in which this photograph was to be perceived. Fontcuberta also addresses that is it the publication and the photo-editor that must be responsible for the way the photograph is perceived addressing the example of the attacks in Paris where the photograph was manipulated in different ways to try and lessen the impact of the content because of the violent nature. I want to detail the responsibility of the photographer in my research paper but this chapter has reminded me that I need to consider the role of the photo-editor and the publication in relation to manipulation. Finally, Foncuberta’s quote ‘the ready availability of the techniques of trickery creates a collective distrust that is bound to increase’ is very similar to that of Fred Ritchin when Photoshop is introduced; these similarities are definitely going to be addressed in my work.

The Right Distance

  • Death of Diana sparked discussions over the intrusiveness of the paparazzi
  • There is a concept of event creation in photojournalism – Erich Salomen rejected this notion by seeking spontaneous moments however this relates to discussions around privacy and surveillance
  • The evolution of photography revolves around distance, the photographer usually diminishes their position to emphasise the scene so that the image is powerful
  • Modernity can be interpreted as ‘zooming in’
  • Changing/developing ideas in photography – The New Objectivity was practiced by Blossfeldt and Renger-Patszch
  • Robert Capa addressed physical distance – ‘if your pictures aren’t good, you’re not close enough’ although he was speaking from a specific position historically
  • New Topographics was a new phase influenced by industrialisation, capitalism and consumerism (focuses on neutrality)
  • Joe Deal’s ideology on distance is: 1) a larger distance makes composition and framing adjustments tricky 2) a greater point of view and acceptance comes from a smaller distance
  • Fontcuberta references ‘vrai-faux’ concept (true/false) to what extent to images really show what they depict, are these just hyper-realistic stages and staged-realism

Evaluation:

Distance in photography can mean physical or psychological, Robert Capa always maintained that physical proximity was key but Abigail Solomon Godeau explores the psychological proximity of the photographer to their situation. Solomon Godeau addressed Diane Arbus as an ‘outsider’ to the people she was photographing because she didn’t fully understand their situation and subsequently produced what could be considered as ‘victim photography’. The vrai/faux concept raised by Fontcuberta is definitely something I will be referencing when blogging about manipulation and photographic realism. There is a dilemma surrounding photographic truth in the age of digital photography; perhaps manipulation has actually equipped the audience with a reduced naivety and the consequent ability to determine whether the content they are seeing is actually believable. Perhaps taking control over the way they perceive their own news will mean the audience will engage with it in a different, more perceptive manner.

Cosmic Palimspests

  • 1991 October – Soyuz-TM Space Capsule was launched to reach the ISS (represents fragility)
  • Space provides distance and different perspectives, perhaps more objectivity
  • The concept of proximity is complex – too close and you aren’t being comprehensive, too far away and you can’t interpret the situation
  • Photographic realism bounces off the facade of things (Brecht)

Evaluation:

This chapter was less relevant to my research paper than some of the others however this is to be expected when reading a book. The idea of space in relation to the term proximity was raised, the dilemma between being too close so you can’t fully appreciate the situation or being too far away which means you can’t gain an accurate perception. Space and the relationship to the subject is a topic I will be exploring in my research paper however writers such as Abigail Solomon Godeau addresses it in more depth therefore I will continue to use  Fontcuberta more in reference to photographic realism.

Archaeologists of the Future

  • The book/manuscript has a long, complex history – there are some documents that we are unable to decipher
  • When we can’t interpret or understand content – we are tempted to revert to hacking it
  • Lost civilisations are a popular subject in contemporary photography
  • Stathos procalims that some images are ambiguous and contradict the identification of place – photography forces us to interpret images, even minimalist ones

Evaluation:

As with the last chapter, this one was slightly less relevant to me however I can still take the idea that the term ‘image’ is very ambiguous and as an audience we are constantly trying to make an interpretation from the content, even if the style is minimalist.

Archive Noises

  • Photography is the perception which escapes the human eye
  • Dualism between documentation and experimentation – essentially remembering and forgetting
  • What is the role of archive and memory in the digital age? – we have a developing amnesia towards images
  • Most people don’t know about General Franco and his actions (seizing a mass of documents belonging to individuals)
  • Discussions around ownership of imagery
  • Joachim Schmit works with found/appropriated imagery, claiming that everything has been photographed in some way (we should consider the use of photographs, not the production)
  • In the late 20th century photography underwent a shift and was incorporated in the art market, as a result photography became a commodity, worth collecting
  • Do amateur images pollute the image culture?
  • Visual information is still being sought even though there is apparently nothing left to photograph
  • Photo is a fragment of reality – but photographs are our realities
  • Schmid’s ‘Statics’ 1995-2003 used images collected from previous project ‘Archiv/Archive’ and deconstructed them using a shredder then reconstructing them. (deconstruction/reconstruction = fragmentatio and synthesis)
  • Are notion of photographic truth fleeting?
  • Statics re-imagines how an archive disseminates information

Evaluation:

The idea of ownership in the digital age is really important for me to address however I don’t think it is necessarily important enough to be included in my research paper because it is more about responsibility of the photographer and the content of the image rather than the possibility after it is shared. However I will be dedicated an independent blog post and research to the concept of hackers and the free information culture that has been created. There is another reference to the mass image culture by Fontcuberta in relation to the mass of citizen content that has been contributed and whether this has contaminated the quality of the images being produced. Quality is a notion I will be addressed in relation to representation however I will be addressing the mass image culture and the contributions made by photojournalists to continue producing soft imagery that the audience can easily consume. There needs to be imagery that cuts through the mass image culture which perhaps resembles the iconic imagery of the analogue age.

Why do we call it Love when we mean sex

  • Challenges posed by photography were taken up by art and science – for science it was resolving a problem, for art is was inspiration to describe the world
  • Drawing constructs – photography generates (photography is considered a trace)
  • Photography is created outside of the body (drawing is created insdie)
  • Photography essentially has evolved against itself
  • There is a notion of restrictive versus expansive
  • Post modern photography can be accepted but we can’t know the full effects
  • Digital is trapped in the format and body of analogue photography
  • Is image-making still photography? A digital realist painting?
  • Do we need to redefine photography as a term and split it into different mediums and genres

Evaluation:

Fontcuberta is not the only writer who has identified that we need to redefine the area of photography as it has expanded and diversified so much. Fred Ritchin also stated that we are describing the world using archaic terms because it makes it feel familiar to us, for example the motor car was named the horseless carriage. This is one of the complexities confronting photojournalism now as we are interpreting photography in the same manner as we used to before all the differences were made. It appears that we as an audience are not good at defining the differences in nature from all the imagery that we see; for example conceptual and advertising should not be interpreted as photographic realism but there is a notion of realism held by photojournalistic imagery. However this notion has been deconstructed by the use of excessive manipulation by a few irresponsible practitioners. Foncuberta is fair in his summary that we can’t know the full effects of the new practices developed by the digital age, we can only try and adapt both the photographic methods and the audience interpretation and relationship with the image.

 

Overall Evaluation:

This book has been incredibly insightful in relation to the concept of photographic truth and photographic realism. The one key concept I have taken away from this book is the difference in form and nature between analogue and digital photography using the terms ‘latent’ and ‘manifest’ and making comparisons between the consecutive practice of analogue against the fluid nature of digital photography. There examples and references that I will definitely be using in other blog posts such as the mass image culture and representation however I have assessed that this book will be the most influential in relation to photographic truth and examining the nature of digital photography.

 

Reference:

Fontcuberta, J. (2014) Pandora’s Camera. MACK

 

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