Photography and Its Violations (Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts)

Photography and Its Violations (Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts)

Language: English

Pages: 232

ISBN: 0231168187

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Theorists critique photography for "objectifying" its subjects and manipulating appearances for the sake of art. In this bold counterargument, John Roberts recasts photography's violating powers of disclosure and aesthetic technique as part of a complex "social ontology" that exposes the hierarchies, divisions, and exclusions behind appearances.

The photographer must "arrive unannounced" and "get in the way of the world," Roberts argues, committing photography to the truth-claims of the spectator over the self-interests and sensitivities of the subject. Yet even though the violating capacity of the photograph results from external power relations, the photographer is still faced with an ethical choice: whether to advance photography's truth-claims on the basis of these powers or to diminish or veil these powers to protect the integrity of the subject. Photography's acts of intrusion and destabilization, then, constantly test the photographer at the point of production, in the darkroom, and at the computer, especially in our 24-hour digital image culture. In this game-changing work, Roberts refunctions photography's place in the world, politically and theoretically restoring its reputation as a truth-producing medium.
















Bibliography Index ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many people over the years have played a part in the formation of this book as colleagues, confidants, collaborators, commissioning editors, students, conference and seminar organizers, and interlocutors. I would like to thank Jorge Ribalta, Steve Edwards, Blake Stimson, Sergio Mah, David Campany, Robin Kelsey, Andrew Warstat, Devin Fore, David Green, Andrew Yarnold, Anna Lovatt, Julian Stallabrass, Richard West, Sina Najafi, Alan Radley, Robert Grose, Mette

and I had no place in it. In other words it perpetrates a greater violation than the violation produced by the initial encounter. Similarly, the idea prevalent in much photo theory in the 1990s, after the publication of John Tagg’s The Burden of Representation (1988), that such an image represents the conflation of the documentary tradition with the state control of the working-class body as victim or deserving poor, and therefore is ipso facto injurious and repressive, is equally tendentious, in

digital image and the interdependence and mutability of image and text on the Internet are no longer the antithesis of the to-be-looked-at-ness of the photograph, but offer a sympathetic and compatible setting for the interruptive and narratological reconstruction of the “event.” A POLITICS OF LATENESS? The reassertion of the book form over painterliness, then, presupposes a tentative response to my reflections on the subordinate cultural role of photography. What kind of model of artisticness

imprint,” says Van Lier. Ibid., 111. 3.    Synder, in Elkins, Photography Theory, 154. 4.    Lefebvre, in Elkins, Photography Theory, 225. 5.    Ibid., 231–32. 6.    Ibid., 228. 7.    Ibid., 233. 8.    Solomon-Godeau, in Elkins, Photography Theory, 257. 9.    See, in particular, Alain Badiou, The Century, trans. with a commentary and notes by Alberto Toscano (Cambridge: Polity, 2007). 10.  Ibid. My use of Badiou here might be construed as being contentious, given his problematic

77, 80–81 Art of Interruption, The (Roberts), 2–3 art-photography, 41, 43, 50–51, 166–67. See also figural photography; staged photographs; studio photography art-snapshot, 80–81, 88 Asia, photographs of war victims, 186n20 atemporality, 109–112 Atget, Eugene, 132, 184n27 Atlas (Richter), 80 Atlas Group, 181n38 atrocity images: defense of, 21; dispersal on Internet, 187n24; downward pressures on, 14–15; ethics of representation, 53–54, 161–64; mediation of possibilities and exceptions of

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