Wk 5: Recommended Reading
Susan Sontag – On photography
Sontag describes the technical skill and
calculation required for painting as a handicap, which in some cases can be
true, especially in trying to capture something in the way photography does.
The fact that cameras can capture moments that move too fast for the human eye
to see gives it an advantage that painting does not have. Photographs that are
created out of happenstance can often be very meaningful and carry weight.
Paintings do not have this effect. Another advantage photography has is that any
average person can capture beautiful photographs, but much fewer people can
make great paintings. This means that photography allows for many more ideas to
come to life than painting does.
Sontag’s points about photography being the
only naturally surreal art medium are also interesting. I agree with this in
that photographs are often made better by accidents and things that were not
originally intended to be in the shot. But I disagree with it as well because a
photograph may create a dramatization of an every day event, but that does not
mean it creates an alternate world, as the drama of a real life event compared
to a photograph of the event is merely subjective. People recognise that photos
are taken from things in our universe, an not from another, therefore spoiling
the illusion. Whereas a medium such as painting is (often) about creating
fictional events and therefore carries the illusion of surrealism.
I also like the idea of how different
European and American photography is. Europeans focussing on the picturesque
and Americans trying to expose the dark sides of life. This highlights the free
spoken American nature and the European focus on poetry.