Susan Sontag
[Writer, theorist, and critic, b. 1933, New York, d. 2004, New York.]

 Life is not significant details, illuminated by a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are. 
 Though photographs, the world becomes a series of unrelated, free-standing particles; and history, past and present, a set of anecdotes and faits divers. The camera makes reality atomic, manageable, and opaque. It is a view of the world which denies interconnectedness, continuity, but which confers on each moment the character of a mystery. 
 When one has a picture taken, the photographer says “Perfect!” Just as you are! That is death. 
 In some way I would suggest that photography is not so much an art as a meta-art. It’s an art which devours other art... photography takes the whole world as its subject, cannibalizes all art forms, and converts them into images. And in that sense it seems a peculiarly modern art form. 
 Our very sense of situation is now articulated by the camera’s interventions. The omnipresence of cameras persuasively suggests that time consists of interesting events, events worth photographing. This, in turn, makes it easy to feel that any event, once underway, and whatever its moral character, should be allowed to complete itself—so that something else can be brought into the world, the photograph. 
 Let the atrocious images haunt us. Even if they are only tokens, and cannot possibly encompass most of the reality to which they refer, they still perform a vital function. The images say: This is what human beings are capable of doing—may volunteer to do, enthusiastically, self-righteously. Don’t forget. 
 A photograph is supposed not to evoke but to show. That is why photographs, unlike handmade images, can count as evidence. But evidence of what? 
 The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own. 
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