[Writer, theorist, and critic, b. 1933, New York, d. 2004, New York.]
By furnishing this already crowded world with a duplicate one of images, photography makes us feel that the world is more available than it really is.
Surrealism lies at the heart of the photographic enterprise: in the very creation of a reality in the second degree, narrower but more dramatic than the one perceived by natural vision.
There is no such thing as a bad photograph—only less interesting, less relevant, less mysterious ones.
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.
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.
Standing alone, photographs promise an understanding they cannot deliver. In the company of words, they take on meaning, but they slough off one meaning and take on another with alarming ease.
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 disconcerting ease with which photographs can be taken, the inevitable even when inadvertent authority of the results, suggest a very tenuous relation to knowing.