Saturday, April 15, 2006

A social rite, a defense agianst anxiety, and a tool of power

I am rereading Sontag's On Photography and thought it quite on the mark for something written 27 years before Flickr and in light of the questions posed on the Utata group on Flickr.

It struck me as a way of framing the essence of some of the responses here in this thread. " ... photography has become as widely practiced an amusement as sex and dancing -- which means that, like every mass art form, photogrpaphy is not practiced by most people as an art. It is a mainly a social rite, a defense agianst anxiety, and a tool of power."

What do you think?

7 Comments:

Anonymous bfelice said...

oh, i don't know, sort of reeks of the superiority of words when the same arguments could be applied to the holy written argument, as well.

blaming the tool or vehicle or gesture for the vision or lack of thereof always seems to miss the boat, in my mind.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous andy Verol said...

New hardcore french writer:

"Idéologiquement Cash/Chiotte

L'aplat de niaiseries répandu sur le texte a empêché de dévoiler la puissance colérique des propos en général. Une sorte de philosophie en parfaite adéquation avec l'époque. Ni avant-garde, ni conservatisme."

To be continued: http://hirsute.hautetfort.com

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Alice said...

In the hands of more people, anything can be used to its detriment or for inappropriate motives. I agree with bfelice, it is not the photography that is a social rite, a defense, an excuse for boorish or boring or personal expressions or a tool of power. It is the mind of the hands holding the camera that creates all of these things. Contrariwise, in the mind of the hands of an artist, it is still only a tool, if a beloved one, just as much as paint brushes, paint and a canvas.

8:31 AM  
Blogger animographer said...

I believe this is so, and will be increasingly MORE so, as digital photography becomes more and more accessable. The advent of affordable digital cameras, and phone cameras has allowed just about everyone with a little extra cash to join the discussion, (btw, i don't think anyone's blaming photography for anything here).
In reference to another entry on this blog...does that mean that any schmoe with a camera phone can be an artist? Definitely debatable. What is "art"? Does art require some sort of premeditated vision? Or can it be something that flashes in front of you for a second?
To me, it seems like the more casually *looking* design, (i.e. one that looks "thrown together"), is taking the lead in todays fashions. For some reason, it is taboo to look well designed...thought, or the appearance of it, seems to be *out*.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Defence against anxiety? Maybe, like all creative exercises are to an extent and all tools empower but are neutral in themselves. But a social rite? I don't know.

3:59 AM  
Blogger jenn f. said...

I think she qualifies it by saying that "It is a mainly a social rite," something I would find very difficult to deny. The vast majority of camera owners and operators are documenting for the sake of documentation-- even when they photograph something beautiful it isn't about process or even about the end product, but is rather about documenting their experience of something beautiful (like a sunset, etc.)And the documentation is by and large that of interaction: implied in the taking of a photograph of interaction is the subsequent interaction of viewing. Reading this makes me think I need to go back to the Sontag-- it's been years since I read it last. I'm more curious about the assertion of photography as a defense against anxiety. The anxiety of losing one's existence, of being reminded that they exist through physical evidence? I've been delving back into writings on photogrpahy recently as well, though it was back to the Barthes for me. I think some of his thoughts about what separates photography from other forms of art (the inescapability of its subject as the that-has-been) perhaps speaks to the "defense against anxiety"?

9:09 AM  
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7:43 AM  

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