end of photography?

Today’s artdaily has a thought-provoking article called False Witness, about the somewhat controversial issue of photo manipulation, especially with today’s digital cameras:

“Last week David Hockney declared the end of photography in these pages: the rise and rise of digital cameras, and the concomitant ease with which images can be distorted and manipulated, have put paid to the notion of photography’s truthfulness, he argued. Joel Sternfeld, winner of the Citigroup photography prize [-] begs to differ.

“Photography has always been capable of manipulation,” says the New Yorker[-] “Even more subtle and more invidious is the fact that any time you put a frame to the world, it’s an interpretation. I could get my camera and point it at two people and not point it at the homeless third person to the right of the frame, or not include the murder that’s going on to the left of the frame. You take 35 degrees out of 360 degrees and call it a photo. There’s an infinite number of ways you can do this: photographs have always been authored.

“And nor is anything that purports to be documentary to be completely trusted, anyway,” he says, referring to Hockney’s assumption that, in the past, war photography was rightly regarded as having claims to veracity. “The Hockney argument is as simplistic as saying that any non-fiction book is truthful. You can never lose sight of the fact that it’s authored. With a photograph, you are left with the same modes of interpretation as you are with a book. You ask: what do we know about the author and their background? What do I know about the subject?

“Some of the people who are now manipulating photos, such as Andreas Gursky, make the argument – rightly – that the ‘straight’ photographs of the 1940s and 50s were no such thing. Ansell Adams would slap a red filter on his lens, then spend three days burning and dodging in the dark room, making his prints,” says Sternfeld, referring to the processes of adding or withholding intensity to a print. “That’s a manipulation. Even the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, with all due respect to him, are notoriously burned and dodged.”

“No individual photo explains anything. That’s what makes photography such a wonderful and problematic medium. It is the photographer’s job to get this medium to say what you need it to say. Because photography has a certain verisimilitude, it has gained a currency as truthful – but photographs have always been convincing lies.”

About Techniques

A. experimenting with
1. digital inkjet printing in combination with etchings
2. digital inkjet printing on different materials in layers
3. digital inkjet printing on art papers
B. previous work:
1. deep etching
2. photo etching, using digital inkjet transparencies to replace darkroom processes…and use of ImagOn and Z-Acryl photopolymer emulsion.