Geoffrey Batchen
[Photohistorian, b. 1956, Australia, lives in Wellington, New Zealand.]

 Photographs are always catalysts for, and foci of, [the] desire invested in looking. 
 As their name suggests, digital processes actually return the production to the whim of the creative human hand (to the digits). For that reason, digital images are actually closer in spirit to the creative processes of art than they are to the truth values of documentary. 
 As a medium based on contiguity (the condition of being in contact), what photography gave to modernity was not vision, but touch (or, more precisely, vision as a form of touch). This visual touch allows photography to establish a special relationship between its subject and ourselves, a kind of carnal knowledge unique to the photographic medium. It has also allowed photography to claim a special relationship to memory. 
 And within the logic of [the electronic economy], the identity of an image is no longer distinguishable from any other piece of datum, be it animal, vegetable, or “experiential” in origin. Indeed, given the rhyzomatic structure of the electronic universe, the point of origin is no longer of consequence. All that matters (in every sense of the word) is the possibility of instantaneous dissemination and exact reproduction of data. 
 ...the “that-has-been” temporality of photography once described by Roland Barthes has been replaced by a “what-is-going on,” a sharing of an immediacy of presence. 
 Photography apparently figures time itself as a progressive linear movement from past to future. The present during which we look at the photographic image is but a staging point, a hallucinatory hovering that imbricates both past and future. 
 So there is a lacuna in photography’s history, an absence. And we are talking absence not just of vernacular photographies themselves, but of a cogent explanation for that absence. 
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