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Little History of Photography

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Song Chong

on 27 January 2015

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Transcript of Little History of Photography

Little History of Photography
Walter Benjamin
Industrialization pushes photography
to commercialism and people are troubled by the power of representation that it has. Why?
Photography connects with all human activity:
from a defense of Daguerre
What would be the appeal of the Daguerrotype to an audience that is just encountering "photography"
How do you think this new kind of photography changed notions on art? What does Benjamin seem to be saying about photography as art?
Benjamin describes the experience of seeing an image for the first time. What does he mean by "the viewer has an irresistible urge to look closer? What is the "magical value"
In his conclusion, what is Benjamin alluding to when he speaks about cameras getting smaller and smaller? How do you think it impacts our lives? Is this argument still relevant?
When do photographs become CREATIVE?
how do these Blossfeldt images illustrate that?
Little History of Photography
Walter Benjamin
David Octavius Hill
Greyfriars Cemetery
Eugene Atget
Tribute to Eugene Atget
“Uniqueness and duration are as intimately intertwined in the latter (original) as are transience and reproducibility in the former (copy).”
Original vs. Copy
August Sander
Roland Barthes
The Photographic Message
What is the relationship between
image and text?
"a complex of concurrent messages with the photograph as centre and surrounds constituted by the text, the title, the caption, the lay-out and...by the very name of the paper" (15). He separates the totality of the representation into two structures--the visual and the textual--which are "contiguous but not 'homogenized'" (16), and, laying the question of textual signification to the side, focuses on elaborating "a structural analysis of the photographic message" (16) and then on projecting some methods whereby the photographic image and attendant text relate.
The photograph, according to Barthes, "transmit[s]...the scene itself, the literal reality" (17); that is, it provides a "perfect analogon" of the object represented. This direct representation (the "what it is") is the photograph's "denoted" message. In addition, a photograph also conveys "a connoted message, which is the manner in which the society to a certain extent communicates what it thinks of it" (17, italics in original). (Paintings or other, more 'worked,' visual forms, on the other hand, have a second-order meaning which is the denoted or representational (first-order) meaning supplemented by the second-order style or 'treatment' of the image.)
six "connotation procedures" or processes whereby a photograph takes on a connoted meaning. These are: trick effects, pose, objects which index certain things, photogenia, aestheticism, and syntax, where photographs exist in a series. Connotation is historical or social in the sense that how an image is connoted is entirely dependent on the conventions and expectations of the society within which that image appears. In his example, an image of fire will connote very differently in a culture in which predominates a belief in hell as an actual, physical place from one in which no such belief exists.
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