November 28, 2008

Photographs. Actions. Objects. Traces.

So what are photographs? Are they simply pieces of paper upon which images sit? Or are they objects/artifacts that are vehicles of social meaning? Or, can photographs be seen as actions in and of themselves (Trudi at the AAA meeting brought this up to me after our panel presentation). Finally, can photographs be seen as the results, or the traces of a continuum of actions--from purchasing cameras to travel to pressing the shutter to the actual production of the image (whether printed digitally, or in a darkroom, or just posted online)? Are they objects, actions, or the material results of actions?

Whatever they are--or however we want to think about them--photographs are most definitely, in my view, very abstract selections from reality. Like an archaeological sample, they are small excerpts from ever-shifting social lives and experiences. And yet, they contain an incredible mass of information.

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