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1930s and early 1940s, which he describes as «evidence of a sophisticated dialogue with the empirical methods of the detective police.»  He is probably making reference to portraits of people riding the subway in New York which Evans took between 1938 and 1941 with a hidden camera and which were not published until 1966 under the title of «Many are Called.»  By emphasizing the automatic character of the photographic image, reference is being made to the surveillance techniques used by the police and other apparatuses of the state (such as, for example, the military), who are not interested in a somehow ‹aesthetically› organized picture taken by an author, but in automatically scanning reality by recording it as completely as possible—although Evans intervenes by cutting and selecting the images.  Evans seems to be setting up an archive of potentially ‹suspicious› persons. Thus there is an arrangement of «Subway Portraits» (1938–41) which contains the grid structure characteristic for work with the archive and which is definitely reminiscent of wanted persons posters. However, the photographs are divorced from any additional information which would allow assigning a
name, a history, a social status to the persons. As in, for instance, contemporaneous archive projects (for example, August Sander's «Menschen des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts»), one may attempt to discern a person's social position based on their appearance, but it is evident how seldom one succeeds in doing so (as is not the case for Sander, whose image titles provide important clues). Thus with this «vast visual archive,»  Evans demonstrates that photographs are only operative in specific contexts as an element of the police archive. If one cuts them too much out of their context—both physically and metaphorically—they lose their identificatory function.
A form of the photographic archive whose importance can hardly be overestimated is that of private photography—the greatest part of all of the photographs taken in the second half of the twentieth century belong to this area. With the introduction of the first Kodak box camera in 1889, the production of photographs became possible even for normal citizens without any technical experience—though initially only