Cameras

Still from Regarding Susan Sontag, a film by Nancy Kates, 2014.

‘Cameras miniaturize experience, transform history into spectacle. As much as they create sympathy, photographs cut sympathy, distance the emotions. Photography’s realism creates a confusion about the real which is (in the long run) analgesic morally as well as (both in the long and in the short run) sensorially stimulating. … Whatever the moral claims made on behalf of photography, its main effect is to convert the world into a department store or museum-without-walls in which every subject is depreciated into an article of consumption, promoted into an item for aesthetic appreciation. Through the camera people become customers or tourists of reality. … Bringing the exotic near, rendering the familiar and homely exotic, photographs make the entire world available as an object of appraisal. … The reason that humanism has become the reigning ideology of ambitious professional photographers – displacing formalist justifications of their quest for beauty – is that it masks the confusions about truth and beauty underlying the photographic enterprise’.

– Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1977), 98, 100.

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