Jean Baudrillard
[Writer and theorist, b. 1929, Reims, France, d. 2007, Paris.]

 Every photographed object is merely the trace left behind by the disappearance of all the rest. It is an almost perfect crime, an almost total resolution of the world, which merely leave the illusion of a particular object shining forth, the image of which then becomes an impenetrable enigma. 
 ... the age of simulation thus begins with a liquidation of all referentials—worse: by their artificial resurrection in systems of signs, a more ductile material than meaning... It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of reduplication, nor even of parody. It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself. 
 Images have become our true sex objects. It is this promiscuity and the ubiquity of images, this viral contamination of images which are the fatal characteristics of our culture. 
 You think you photograph a particular scene for the pleasure it gives. In fact it’s the scene that wants to be photographed. You’re merely an extra in the production. 
 For the heavenly fire no longer strikes depraved cities, it is rather the lens which cuts through ordinary reality like a laser, putting it to death. 
 Photography is our exorcism. Primitive society had its masks, bourgeois society its mirrors. We have our images. 
 The magic of photography is that it is the object which does all the work. 
 The miracle today is that appearances, which were long reduced to voluntary servitude but have now gained their independence, are turning around on us, turning against us, through the very technology we use to drive them out. They now come from somewhere else, from their own place, from the heart of their banality; they are bursting in on us from everywhere, joyously multiplying on their own. 
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