Assignment 1 – 151mc- Photography in the age of Digital Imaging – Lister.M

Having read pages 304-312 of the text , Photography in the age of digital imaging , Lister.M. I have noted a few keys points and issues that have been raised.

  •  With the coining of the term ‘post-photographic era’ in the early 1990s, a
    decisively historical and epochal dimension was given to the thinking about
    the impact of new image technologies upon photography (Wombell 1991:
    150, Mitchell 1992).
  • significance of digital image technology for media
    and visual culture, the art historian Jonathan Crary spoke of ‘the rapid development
    in little more than a decade of a vast array of computer graphics
    techniques’ as bringing about ‘a transformation in the nature of visuality
    probably more profound than the break that separates mediaeval imagery from
    Renaissance perspective’ (Crary 1993:)
  • by the early 1990s, there was a feeling abroad that the period
    of some 150 years in which photography had been central to visual culture
    was approaching its end – Historically Photography was also associated with truth, realism,and evidence, – Lister.M
  • Had the application of the computer and digitisation to image-making
    brought an age of (‘false’) innocence to an end? A false innocence belonging
    to the 150-year period during which chemical photographs provided us with
    images that we could comfortably regard as causally generated truthful reports about things in the real world, and which could be confidently distinguished from more traditionally crafted images, which seemed notoriously ambiguous and uncertain
    human constructions. (Mitchell 1992: 225).
  • we entered a ‘post-photographic era’ and had to face a new challenge to the fragile distinctions we were used to making between the imaginary and the real or, as Mitchell puts it, ‘the tragic elusiveness of the Cartesian dream’ (1992: 225)
  • The camera was invented in 1839. Auguste Comte was just finishing his
    Cours de Philosophie Positive. Positivism and the camera and sociology
    grew up together. What sustained them all as practices was the belief
    that quantifiable facts, recorded by scientists and experts, would one day
    offer man such total knowledge about nature and society that he would
    be able to order them both. (Berger and Mohr 1982: 99) (Positvism – a philosophical system founded by Auguste Comte, concerned with positive facts and phenomena, and excluding speculation upon ultimate causes or origins. – In other words, objective , truth based facts, not theory. )
  • The new constructed or ‘virtual’ visual ‘spaces’ of computer-generated
    imagery which were emerging, were radically different from the ‘mimetic
    capacities of film, photography, and television’ (Crary 1993: 2). Photography
    depended upon ‘a point of view static, or mobile, located in real space
  • Crary suggested that: Most of the historically important functions of the human eye are being supplanted by practices in which visual images no longer have any
    reference to the position of an observer in a ‘real’ optically perceived
    world. (1993)
  • seeing and representing the world through a camera lens, from a definite position in
    space, were giving way to new forms of vision and image
  • older lens-based images are either converted into electronic
    data or new images are constructed directly from data which simulate
    the appearance of a photograph. These images can be infinitely changeable
  • circulate within global telecommunication networks, available
    for convergence with one another and other ‘abstract visual and linguistic
    elements’ (Crary 1993). Further, these images do not necessarily refer to
    anything that is empirically verifiable as ‘real’ but to ensembles of concepts,
    and to other images and data.
  • the question no longer
    seemed to be ‘can an observer see clearly from their position?’, but whether
    we, as observers, could continue to have any fixed or secure position from
    which to see anything that is material and stable!
  • photographic image itself – converted, reproduced or simulated in digital form, stored
    electronically, and transmitted by telecommunications networks.- question arose as to whether a second ‘electronic’ or ‘digital’ revolution in visual culture was taking place which would usurp the role that photography had in the ‘age of mechanical reproduction’ and which Benjamin first described.
  • A fear for the demise of photographic truth was one of the initial responses
    to digital image technology. Traditional claims about photography’s truth value
    have rested upon the causal relationship between the photographic image
    and the real world
  • In realist theories, photography was primarily defined by its technical basis: the way in which light reflected by an object or event in the real world is registered on the film emulsion
  • The photograph was understood as an index or trace of what had caused it
  • many practitioners felt that the ethics and politics of photographic representation
    were under threat. This was the position taken by Fred Ritchin claimed that ‘the new
    malleability of the image may eventually lead to a profound undermining of
    photography’s status as an inherently truthful pictorial form’ – [F. RITCHIN (1990a) In Our Own Image: The Coming Revolution in Photography, New York, Aperture; (1990)

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