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Susan Sontag: Off Photography (2)

One of the book’s most undermining weaknesses and chief disappointments, beyond its lack of foundation in photography’s morphology and hermeneutics, is its scanting of applied exegetics — the consistent refusal to address bodies of work and single images, the primary works in the medium. […]

Susan Sontag: Off Photography (1)

Since being impressive to a non-knowledgeable audience is a natural consequence of her choice of style, tone, stance, and pace, one can presume that to be Sontag’s intent. Similarly, since to anyone with a background in photography Sontag’s grasp of the medium’s morphology is (to be charitable) shaky, and her ideas almost entirely received, one can equally presume that — except as an aggressive act — the book is not meant to be taken seriously by an audience versed in photography, visual art, or visual communication. […]

On John Berger on Photography

In reading those of my colleagues who tend to wax philosophic, I consider it always useful to keep in mind that Aristotle’s reasoning led him to conclude that adult women had fewer teeth than adult men, and that his hermeneutics never required him to test this hypothesis by looking into a human female’s mouth and counting. […]

AIPAD 2016

You can view AIPAD as a (mostly) non-verbal version of the book that Benjamin planned to produce, comprised entirely of quotations from other sources. Benjamin structured his “Arcades Project” — first conceived in 1927 and unfinished when he died in 1940 — after the glass-roofed shopping malls of 19th-century Paris, epitomizing that “commodification of things” which he saw as the defining characteristic of modernity. […]

APAG Seminar 2015

The most important points I took away from the weekend are these: To make anything happen with a private archive, you need to know what you have. Thus taking inventory, and thereby getting familiar with the materials so you can locate and retrieve them, becomes the necessary first step. Second, to borrow a concept from general systems theory, you have to convert it from a heap to a whole, establishing some kind of order. […]