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Susan Sontag- On Photography

important points, quotes, notes, etc. from Susan Sontag's On Photography

Lella L

on 9 October 2012

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Transcript of Susan Sontag- On Photography

On Photography Susan Sontag In Plato's Cave -"All facts, even mean ones, are incandescent in Whitman’s America—that ideal space, made real by history, where “as they emit themselves facts are showered with light.”

-"To photograph is to confer importance."

-"In photography’s early decades, photographs were expected to be idealized images."

-"Like Whitman, Stieglitz saw no contradiction between making art an instrument of identification with the community and aggrandizing the artist as a heroic, romantic, self-expressing ego."

- "The Arbus photographs convey the anti-humanist message which people of good will in the 1970s are eager to be troubled by, just as they wished, in the 1950s, to be consoled and distracted by a sentimental humanism. There is not as much difference between these messages as one might suppose." America, Seen Through Photographs,
Darkly " Melancholy Objects The Heroism of Vision Photographic Evangels - "...that a society becomes “modern” when one of its chief activities is producing and consuming images, when images that have extraordinary powers to determine our demands upon reality and are themselves coveted substitutes for firsthand experience become indispensable to the health of the economy, the stability of the polity, and the pursuit of private happiness."

- "To view reality as an endless set of situations which mirror each other, to extract analogies from the most dissimilar things, is to anticipate the characteristic form of perception stimulated by photographic images."

- "Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality, understood as recalcitrant, inaccessible; of making it stand still."

- "Cameras establish an inferential relation to the present (reality is known by its traces), provide an instantly retroactive view of experience. Photographs give mock forms of possession: of the past, the present, even the future."

- "Photography, which has so many narcissistic uses, is also powerful instrument for depersonalizing our relation to the world; and the two uses are complementary." The Image-World If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug a camera. —Lewis Hine

Life itself is not the reality. We are the ones who put life into stones and pebbles.—Frederick Sommer

An object that tells of the loss, destruction, disappearance of objects. Does not speak of itself. Tells of others. Will it include them?—Jasper Johns

The camera is a fluid way of encountering that other reality. —Jerry N. Uelsmann

The camera is my tool. Through it I give a reason to everything around me.—Andre Kertesz A Brief Anthology
of Quotations - “Photography is to appropriate the thing photographed”
- “The work that photographers do is no generic exception to the usually shady commerce between art and truth.”
- “The camera doesn’t rape, or even possess, though it may presume, intrude, trespass, distort, exploit, and, at the farthest reach of metaphor, assassinate- all activities that, unlike the sexual push and shove, can be conducted from a distance, and with some detachment.”
- “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality.”
- “An event known through photographs certainly becomes more real than it would have been if one had never seen the photographs” - -"Insofar as looking at Arbus’s photographs is, undeniably, an ordeal, they are typical of the kind of art popular among sophisticated urban people right now: art that is a self-willed test of hardness. Her photographs offer an occasion to demonstrate that life’s horror can be faced without squeamishness. The photographer once had to say to herself, Okay, I can accept that; the viewer is invited to make the same declaration."

-“Photography was a license to go wherever I wanted and to do what I wanted to do,” Arbus wrote. The camera is a kind of passport that annihilates moral boundaries and social inhibitions, freeing the photographer from any responsibility toward the people photographed." The reality of photography -"Nobody ever discovered ugliness through photographs."

-"It is common for those who have glimpsed something beautiful to express regret at not having been able to photograph it."

-"Many people are anxious when they’re about to be photographed: not because they fear, as primitives do, being violated but because they fear the camera’s disapproval. "

-"The consequences of lying have to be more central for photography than they ever can be for painting, because the flat, usually rectangular images which are photographs make a claim to be true that paintings can never make." -"Yet something about photography still keeps the first-rate professionals defensive and hortatory: virtually every important photographer right up to the present has written manifestoes and credos expounding photography’s moral and aesthetic mission."

-"The disconcerting ease with which photographs can be taken, the inevitable even when inadvertent authority of the camera’s results, suggest a very tenuous relation to knowing."

-"In this century, the older generation of photographers described photography as a heroic effort of attention, an ascetic discipline, a mystic receptivity to the world which requires that the photographer pass through a cloud of unknowing". Sources Alfred Stieglitz Paul Strand Felix Nadar Jerry N Uelsmann Lewis Hine Alfred Stieglitz

Paul Strand

Felix Nadar

Lewis Hine

Jerry N Uelsmann
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