The parts and wholes of photography
A 1975 Susan Sontag interview on how photography changes the world:
By giving us an immense amount of experience that “normally” is not our experience. And by making a selection of experience which is very tendentious, ideological. While there appears to be nothing that photography can’t devour, whatever can’t be photographed becomes less important.
She goes on:
Photographs convert works of art into items of information. They do this by making parts and wholes equivalent.
A couple years back, I felt a tension as I watched my behavior shift. The purpose of the phone on my camera wasn’t to take photographs, as I had defined them in the past, but I found it was a documentation tool. Today, its divergence from that definition proliferates naturally as “camera” co-opts outputs from documentation through art, and consumer transitions between information through art with ease (of course often these are the same). Sontag referred to the Polaroid SX-70 ad, true today, only for different reasons:
“It won’t let you stop. Suddenly you see a picture everywhere you look.”