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press or legal inquiry, it was never superficially exploited to verify occurrences, but rather reflected, most of all, forms of perception, image-making practices and their relation to reality.
For several decades now, photographs draw high prices on the art market. The most recent digital intervention possibilities have changed nothing in that respect. These are meanwhile the integrated components of an image production which continues to concern itself with photographic start-material, and whose results are still labeled and treated as photographs. Classical themes as well, such as the body and the portrait, landscapes and architecture, subject matter analog photography already adopted from painting, continue to make up the central contents. In contemporary artistic photography, interpreting this genre of pictorial history oscillates between the conceptual poles of realism and staging. And even though, in view of photography, these terms seem to describe opposites: realism is generally thought of as an expression of the depicting and indexing quality of
photography, which indiscriminately records whatever occurs before the camera’s lens; and staging, on the other hand, refers to an author’s intervention and the carefully planned arranging of a scene. In the case of digital montaging procedures and electronic arrangements, realism presents itself very clearly now as a result and form of the staged situation: many of the following examples evince a realistic and sometimes documentary-like character – but which only comes about through the scene’s complete arrangement.
Early on, long before the development of digital photography and electronic simulation techniques, the works of the photo-artist Jeff Wall were coined ‹staged photography›. Since the end of the 1970s, Wall ranks among the most important present-day photo-artists. The Canadian, who alongside his art training also completed his art history studies, established in his images a reference system, within which he quotes handed-down themes and conceives a complex interplay of visual and psychological forms of staging, using technical conversion modes. Wall voices an