[Media critic and sociologist, b. 1889, Frankfurt, Germany, d. 1966, New York.]
The photograph annihilates the person.
The question is whether the image decisively catches reality. (1930)
The image wanders ghostlike through the present. Ghostly apparitions occur only in places where a terrible deed has been committed.
...the world has become a photographable present, and the photographed present has been entirely eternalized. Seemingly ripped from the clutch of death, in reality it has succumbed to it.
Never before has an age been so informed about itself, if being informed means having an image of objects that resembles them in a photographic sense. (1927)
The flood of photos sweeps away the dams of memory. Never before has a period known so little about itself. In the hands of the ruling society, the invention of illustrated magazines is one of the most powerful means of organizing a strike against understanding… The ‘image-idea’ drives away the idea.
A shudder runs through the viewer of old photographs. For they make visible not the knowledge of the original but the spatial configuration of a moment; what appears in the photograph is not the person but the sum of what can be subtracted from him or her.