[Writer, photographer, and curator, b. 1939, lives in Riverside, California.]
The camera cannot lie, neither can it tell the truth. It can only transform. The very nature of the medium forces a disjuncture between the photograph and the world, yet the habits of perception—our everyday use of photography—forces us to see the image as surrogate reality.
It was consistent with the social and psychological upheavals of the sixties that a documentary focus should emerge that looked at them less newsworthy, internal aspects of the new culture... The obsessions of sixties photography were ruthless: alienation, deformity, sterility, insanity, sexuality, bestial and mechanical violence, and obscenity.
Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” has been reinvented as the digital moment, a seamless presentation of constellations of separate, singular occurrences brought together into a coherent, seemingly “photographic” whole.
Art should be the expression of the masses, not the expression of the few. The camera itself in a direct way fulfilled the Whitmanian prophecy: every man possessed the tools for expression. And, in fact, photography has become the most democratic of all arts.
The desire to spiritualize the American earth is deeply rooted in a Puritan and romantic attempt to find in the new American landscape the religious sources that had been left behind in the old world. The burden this has placed on Americans who have photographed the natural world has been overwhelming.