Is Photography Over?

If you got some spare time: interesting piece by Trevor Paglen on the excellent photography blog Still Searching. Paglen asks what, if anything, has “changed” about photography over the last decade or so. To him, traditional approaches to doing-photography and thinking-about-photography feel increasingly anachronistic, not only because the rise of digital photography and image processing software have fundamentally altered the craft. The digital “revolution” has meant an upheaval in the photographic landscape.

Over the next few weeks, Paglen will explore and expanded definition of photography and at the same time explore the implications of that expanded definition:

I’ll start by introducing the idea of photography as seeing machines and explore questions such as: How do we see the world with machines? What happens if we think about photography in terms of imaging systems instead of images? How can we think about images made by machines for other machines? What are the implications of a world in which photography is both ubiquitous and, curiously, largely invisible?

Without question, the 21st century will be a photographic century. Photography will play a more fundamental role in the functioning of 21st century societies than 20th century practitioners working with light-sensitive emulsions and photographic papers could have ever dreamed. So while in one sense photography might be “over,” in another, it’s barely gotten going. And we haven’t seen anything yet.

As said, if you got some time read the whole thing (and the comments!).

Better even, stay tuned and follow the online discourse on Fotomuseum blog to find out what it’s all about these 21st century seeing machines

  • thanks for the link – much more worth my time than gear, gear, gear :-)

  • Would love to post more such quality material… well I guess it’s all about the right mix.

  • Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, Surrealist were already treating cameras as seeing machines – deliberately. We are now at the era of pseudo-modernism, so better enquire how we got there.

    That is what I am doing at:

    Photo & Poetry

    No depression, only fun!

  • His is a Museum Curator’s perspective. One who judges art long after the fact. David Bate, of Westminster Uni, who is bot a photog and a critic, sees new realism coming out of globalization.
    In fact blogs might well show the way, by conferring meaning to images, that otherwise would have little or no purpose. Tagging them is the decisive act.

  • Good points. The executive and legislative power so to say of photography certainly form a fruitful symbiosis. The ones behind and in front — and on the side! — of the lens turn out to be in it for different yet very similar reasons. Photography bears a whole new microcosm bonding strangers and like-minded people.