A Reflection on Mid-Twentieth Century America
Amerika Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts in Bildern
Un reflet de l'Amérique du milieu du XX siècle
libro fotografico che racconta l'America, i suoi personaggi, i suoi luoghi,
il suo stile.
Jeff Dunas: American Pictures
Memories are considered ephemeral, but they are holistic; they encompass all experience including vision. So why do we confuse photographs with memories? Photographs only contain visual evidence, with all the elasticity of fiction. Why do we trust photographs even more than memory when they are highly selective and notoriously impeachable, even though, even though they might be clearly straight and unmanipulated? Our best critical writers on photography have been breaking down this question into manageable divisions for the last three decades: mirror and window, document and expression, form and context, semiotics and structure.
But even after we appreciate all of these critical position, it is hard to deny that it is the factual information that photographs apparently represent that holds our fascination. The knowledge that they are not reliable objective documents fails to prevent us from accepting them as subjective evidence. We let them comfort us and confirm our experience and even our memories: this thing existed; I was there and saw it exactly this way. Or perhaps more importantly: I can imagine I experienced this thing in just this way. Better these flat reminders be an inventory of our lives than a lot of other things we can't choose to forget.
If we can't help ourselves and confuse the act of seeing with the act of seeing a photograp, then photographs obligate us, either consciously or not, to examine perception itself. And, of course, this leads us to question our own beings, which is built on our memories and perceptions. But if we keep our balance on this medium that teeters between experience and fiction, between standing in front of events or objects and standing in front of a piece of photographic paper, then all hotographs become didactic in a constructive way. [..]
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