Fred Ritchin
[Critic and writer, b. 1952, Washington, D.C., lives in New York.]

 We are all photographers suddenly, or surrounded by them. 
 And the wars? Can our photographs do anything at all? (Or do we turn it all into image so that it will bother us less?) 
 The photograph that discovers and uncovers the world is harder to simulate than an image that simply illustrates one’s ideas about it. 
 In fact, the new malleability of the image may eventually lead to a profound undermining of photography’s status as an inherently truthful pictorial form... If even a minimal confidence in photography does not survive, it is questionable whether many pictures will have meaning anymore, not only as symbols but as evidence. 
 We have faith in the photograph not only because it works on a physically descriptive level, but in a broader sense because it confirms our sense of omnipresence as well as the validity of the material world. 
 Neither a person nor a photograph should be taken at face value; it is more complicated than that. photography is so instantaneous, abundant and virtual that it seems to reside outside of the passing of time.... The problem is not only one of image manipulation software, but of the empty shells that these images inhabit—decontextualized, without agency, ephemeral. These digital images are viewed as chimera, deracinated and oblivious to the historical. 
 The “decisive moment,” the popular Henri Cartier-Bresson approach to photography in which a scene is stopped and depicted at a certain point of high visual drama, is now possible to achieve at any time. One’s photographs, years later, may be retroactively “rephotographed” by repositioning the photographer or the subject of the photograph, or by adding elements that were never there before but now are made to exist concurrently in a newly elastic sense of space and time. 
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