Reading Flusser “Towards a Philosophy of Photography”
A few weeks ago I listened to a podcast episode from Brooks Jensen, where he remarked that the docent in a museum he was at would talk about the technical aspects of a painting or sculpture, but about the social aspects of a photograph (ignoring any technical achievement).
Vilém Flusser ( Towards a Philosophy of Photography, Reakton Books, 2000) has a paragraph on this very topic:
This apparently non-symbolic, objective character of technical images leads whoever looks at them to see them not as images but as windows. Observers thus do not believe them as they do their own eyes. Consequently they do not criticize them as images, but as ways of looking at the world (to the extent that they criticize them at all). Their criticism is not an analysis of their production but an analysis of the world. (p 15)
Like with most philosophy books, I understand what all the words mean individually, but I struggle with understanding what they mean when strung together in this fashion. However, I do know that Flusser distinguishes “technical images” from “traditional images” (in short, photography vs. painting) based on how many levels of interpretation is involved (traditional — one deals with the artist; technical — one deals with the underlying science as abstracted by a camera). Like I said, struggling.