Basic Critical Theory for Photographers
Ashley la Grange
If you want to understand the key debates in photography and learn how to apply the fascinating issues raised by critical theory to your own practical work, this is the book for you! This accessible book cuts through often difficult and intimidating academic language to deliver understandable, stimulating discussion and summaries of the original texts.
Key works by great writers such as Sontag and Barthes are explored, along with those from other prominent critics. You are guided through a broad range of issues, including the differences between Eastern and Western art, post-modernism, sexism, the relationship between photography and language and many other crucial debates. The book is illustrated by many classic images by eminent international photographers.
Each chapter is followed by stimulating assignments and activities to get you thinking critically and apply theoretical knowledge to your own practical work. A helpful glossary provides quick access to all key terms and a substantial index references key words within the original essays which are not normally indexed.
A must-have aid to anyone studying critical theory, this book provides intelligently written, illuminating insights on the 21st century's dominant art form.
taken. For early photographers this raised a new issue of creativity as to how a mechanical process could make meaningful images that revealed a point of view? Szarkowski argues that because photography did not have the old artistic traditions, the answer was not to be found in the work of those who tried to follow those old traditions. Some photographers however, notably Oscar Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson did try to follow these traditions by making single photographs from different
future or takes him back to somewhere in himself. When he looks at these landscapes he is sure of having been there or of going there. 17. The unary photograph The studium, if not affected by the punctum, generates most photographs and these Barthes calls the ‘unary photograph’. Such a photograph ‘. . . emphatically transforms ‘reality’. . . without making it vacillate . . . no duality, no indirection, no disturbance’ (p. 41). These are banal photographs and are tightly composed. Although news
sign being the index and painting’s the icon is fundamental and suggests that the ‘happy snapper’ is closer to the real function of photography than the few art photographers whose work is hung in galleries. Seeing a photograph as in index brings it closer to the first version of photography, the taking as opposed to the second version, the production of the image. The notion of authenticity re-enforces the argument for the indexical character of photography. In the relationship between (a) the
Photography and Language CHAPTER 7 or the photographer already chooses events, scenes, which he considers representative: again the indexical immediacy of reactive contact is sacrificed to a view with an ulterior motive, a view which wishes to shape or predict our perception of history . . . This latter observation should not, however, be allowed to disqualify photographers from pursuing their own agendas . . .’ (p. 38). (i) As a snapshot, a photograph has features no other art has, on becoming
the car and the road as metaphors of American culture, showing this culture as pessimistically as do post-modernists. This pessimism and belief that the photograph can be a social sign continues with their successors. Some consider Lee Friedlander’s work as a formalist, yet it mostly consists of a critique on the way we see. ‘In his picture Mount Rushmore, we find an amazingly compact commentary on the role of images in the late twentieth century. Natural site has become accultrated sight. Man