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Artistic Conceptions at the Crossing from Analog to Digital Photography
Anette Hüsch

No previous technological development changed photography as intensely as digital image processing. Although the idea of a photographic truth and authenticity was questioned and infiltrated since its earliest beginnings, the quality of retouching and manipulating an existing image nevertheless lags far behind the intervention possibilities offered by computer programs like «Photoshop». Experts could at least recognize the early manipulations of images, whereas nowadays digital interventions are impossible to comprehend: a digitallyaltered or assembled image can no longer be absolutely distinguished from a photograph, since the route taken via digital image processing can lead back to analog forms again. What aesthetic potential the digital image possesses, how perceiving images in general has changed and which ethical questions arise has been discussed ever since. One early and enormously influential contribution to this debate is William T. Mitchell’s book, The Reconfigured Eye. Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era, published in 1992. In his analysis, Mitchell – a professor in the Department of Architecture and Media Art at the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge/USA – makes a clear distinction between the image produced photochemically and the digital image. [1] His diagnosed differences of nature between the two technical processes and thus accomplished theoretical departure from photography seem to manifest themselves in the artistic context for the moment.

Three years after the publication of Mitchell’s book, the vastly conceived exhibition entitled «Fotografie nach der Fotografie» (Photography After Photography) offered an overview of those art-context tendencies which deal with the influence of digital technologies on photography. The works shown in this framework by Keith Cottingham, the artist duo Anthony Aziz / Sammy Cucher, and the artist Inez van Lamsweerde, known from the world of fashion photography, could almost be considered ‹classics› in the meantime – just as the catalogue of the same name, even today a compendium of important articles on the state of radical change in analog image media under the influence of digital technologies. [2] In retrospect, the articles collected here clarify the extent to which the difference between photography and the new media was considered elementary. According to the majority of the authors, ‹photography after photography› – if it was seen that way at all, could only be defined as thoroughly changed. Discussed less frequently, however, was how visible the similarities between analog and digital technical methods in image-making practices really were. Precisely this question has remained relevant up until today, whether one declares photography dead and then speaks of only the ‹photographic,› or else holds to the term photography. [3] Since especially in the art context – perhaps even more strongly than in private photography and journalism – dealing with electronic image processing is interpreted as the continuation of well-known strategies, and this article will portray it in that light.

Photography, Digital Photography, and Post-Photography

But what exactly is being discussed when the subject is photography or post-photography? The used terms and categories are often vaguely divided from one another, and differentiating between them isessential to analyzing the images.

The common difference between analog and digital media arises from a conceptual simplification described in the following text as only the fundamental, technical differences of nature of two image structures. Because of the image-media painting and photography, their elementary, material connectedness marks them analog media, while using the term ‹digital media› addresses those technologies which generate binary-structured images. In this connection, the term analog explains basic technical differences of nature in the materialness of imagemaking methods such as photography and painting as opposed to the digital code, but without meaning a similarity between the object and what it depicts: while the analog media are casually connected with the factuality of a carrying material, with regard to a data supply in the digital media, no reference can be made to an essential connection to a carrier.

In the given context another highly relevant distinction concerns the terms ‹digital photography› and ‹postphotography›. In contrast to the definition of analog photography, always described so clearly in an incalculable number of texts as a technique which records an image on photosensitive material, the division between photography, digital photography, and post-photography is often handled with far less precision. Since the variants are diverse: images are recorded digitally, photographs are intruded upon at a later stage and without a trace; digital recordings are assembled into a new image – and finally we have those images generated solely on the computer and possessing only the suggestion of photography. In this nuance-laden field of dispositive technical elements, three types of images can be sketched out: ‹analog photography,› ‹digital photography,› and ‹post-photography›. Often enough the terms ‹digital› and ‹post-› photography› are used synonymously, even though each describes a different process. [4] Like with analog photography, the digital variant also relies on the idea of light passing through a lens. But, unlike in analog procedures, the digital apparatus no longer inscribes the light on photosensitive material; instead, it stores it as a series of electronic impulses on a chip: so developing film in a darkroom becomes superfluous. This type of production really does allow itself to becalled ‹digital photography› since, although the chemical light-inscribing process is replaced by an electronic one, the digital procedure nevertheless remains based on the inscribing of light. From the start, photography produced in this manner finds itself in a state requiring no direct material carriers (ignoring the computer’s hardware for a moment) and is easily manipulated electronically.

The description ‹post-photography› harbors in itself two decisive aspects for evaluating the medium: the reference to photography on the one hand, and its technical replacement by ways of digitally designing visual information on the other. [5] Its actual service begins either after the digitalization of whatever well-disposed image material it uses, or manages perfectly well without such reference material. While conventional photography techniques could never do without the object in front of the camera, the photographic depiction in the digital image-production process serves at best as what supplies the start-material. In this sense it would be better to call post-photographic work an image rhetoric, which, in the most extreme case, can design such images using specific computer software, images no longer optically distinguishable from a photograph. And though made in a technical production unlike that of a photograph, they nevertheless comply (sometimes too precisely) with our perceptual conventions.

In digital post-processing – still conceivable as a form of retouching – the collage and montage processes become important when adding or subtracting processes delete or paste parts of photographs – or when the image is designed using only these processes to begin with. Drawing from the montage techniques of painting and photography, the electronically-arranged composite image lets itself to be called a ‹third-degree montage› in which the start-material, like in a photo-collage or collage made of paper, loses its autonomy and becomes part of a new image when combined with other materials. Even in its third variety, the montage principle remains a two-dimensional surface technique able to produce images of a consistent quality without an origin, because it no longer depends on anything visual, based instead on a changeable calculating structure. The newly-made, seemingly photographic image is no longer thedepiction of an object, but merely simulates the representation of one. What the simulation describes here is an emulating procedure, which pretends to be analog photography and, by doing so, follows our seeing habits, trained by looking at photography as well as at film.

The reception of these digital constructions depends on knowing their production route: identifying simulated photographs as digital constructions first allows a further investigation of the images. To make this work in such a field of technical and aesthetic dependencies, inside which the ‹photographic› shows itself, the artistic context takes on a very special function. Since this is the experimentation zone, the area of critical potential where the rapid technical development of the mass media’s flood of images and the changes they instigate in a general understanding of images are accompanied, questioned, and contradicted.

The Niche of Art

Just as when painting, as a reaction to photography, was declared dead; 150 years later, reacting to the new media, one also took leave of photography – because its supposed authenticity was now thoroughly infiltrated. The foundation of this assumed credibility was always a point of controversy. Shortly after the invention of photography in the nineteenth century, its ‹genuineness› and ‹objectivity› were already suspected in totally different conditions of photographic images. Sometimes in the technical process of image production, as in Henry Fox Talbot’s «Pencil of Nature» (1844–1846) and sometimes not quite in the image itself, but rather searched for in the subjective perceiving process, as in P. H. Emerson’s «Naturalistic Photography» (1889). On the other hand, authenticity was thoroughly assembled, caricatured, or infiltrated, like the art photographer Oscar Rejlander did as early as the 1850s in his photo-collages, the so-called «combination printings» meant to verify photography’s claim on art. [6]

No differently than such strategies for legitimizing photography as an artistic medium, the critical reflections and playful examinations of whatever well-disposed expression of the genuine is found in presentday photography as well. In this connection,what the electronic media represent is more like an expanding of the existing forms of staging and manipulation. This clearly distinguishes the art context from all the areas of photographic image production, where even though manipulation and retouching have always been just as much essential components of image-making practices, they were suppressed and hidden just the same, since the belief in photography’s reality effect was and still is considered a constructive part of image reception. For, despite having the last decades of photography theory in particular repeatedly investigate and analyze the utopian character of a purely reproduction-oriented image production, the belief in the depiction is an essential element of photography’s success – especially in journalism or criminology. [7] In this field of work the role of the photographic image is far more greatly jarred, because meanwhile (if still at all) it serves in a very limited capacity as what verifies occurrences, receiving an authorization through a third party and then being accepted as credible. [8] It was precisely this authenticating function that repeatedly questioned artistic photography, since, unlike with the 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.

On the Role of Realism and Staging

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 ofphotography, 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.

Jeff Wall

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 appeal against the classical compositional pattern of art and reflects media-related similarities between photography, painting, and film. His images of everyday and, at first glance, thoroughly unspectacular scenes are usually presented in monumental formats as cibachrome slide positives in back-lit display cases. By way of photography, Wall presents himself as a ‹painter of modern life›, who produces seemingly trivial scenes in which he engages art-historical themes and social questions to equal degrees. While referring to the realism of Eduard Manet in particular, and to the nineteenth century in general, he replaces painting, as a medium of realism, with photography – thus declaring it a so-called Painting of the Present. Wall’s realism excludes all the coincidence inherent to photography’s photographic procedure. The images are construed down to the last detail and nothing is left to chance. Unlike with documentary photography, which waits for the decisive moment and invariably records additional arrangements, Wall devotes himself to the tradition of realism as a displaying of the exemplary, which, per se, is already staged. Like a director with a cameraman, Wall does not necessarilystand behind the camera himself, but rather directs the production of his pictures. For a long period he, above all, staged the image before the photographic documenting of it, but, in the 1990s, turned to manipulating images digitally and using them for the montage and post-processing. This is how he arranged the picture «Dead Troops Talk» (1992) in the studio, photographed in individual sections later assembled digitally, and finally simulated a monumental outdoor photograph. Wall is less concerned with comprehensibility and directly identifying drastic interventions than he is with creating suggested, complex reference systems. And to ensure their success the artist meanwhile uses electronic intervention possibilities as well, which he sees as merely the technical expansions of an existing repertoire: «The picture is a relation of unlike things; montage is hidden, masked, but present, essentially. I feel that my digital montages make this explicit, but that they’re not essentially different from my ‹integral› photographs.» [9]

Andreas Gursky

The former student of Bernd Becher, Germany’s most successful photo-artist in the international scene, Andreas Gursky, shares with Wall an interest in the relationship between painting and photography. His likewise large-format images are photographic ‹intensifications› of visual realities, which he stages and postprocesses digitally. Gursky has an interest in ornamental structures and the interaction of architecture with the social fabric, where individuals become part of an anonymous and standardized mass – as in the image «Montparnasse,» for example. The multi-storey, unusually wide building was just too big to photograph all at once. Therefore Gursky made two photographs, which he joined together digitally so that the assembled image resembles a single photograph again. As in a picture puzzle, two levels of image-recognition emerge: from the distance the façade appears to be a flat, ornamental and lifeless structure; under closer inspection, we detect people, furnishings, human activity, and the rigidly-structured façade becomes alive.

Gursky not only engages electronic processing possibilities for such montage work on photographicreference material; he also accentuates from anew how form and surface relate to one another, as in the extremely colorful, detail-laden picture «Chicago Board of Trade» (1999). In this depiction of the bustling Chicago stock market, Gursky intervenes in such a way that, alongside the wealth of detail in certain sections of the image, one also sees sections so blurred that they seem to dissolve in pure movement. This game played with ‹moving› and ‹motionless› zones irritates the viewer’s gaze, because the documentary character emphasized on the one side seems to dissolve because of the newly-adjusted sharp and blurred sections on the other. Gursky reflects the depicting functions of the medium without assigning the image a photographic authenticity.

Apart from the unalike themes and strategies in their images, in a fundamental manner both Gursky and Wall investigate the relationship between appearance and reality, truth and arrangement. In this connection, each draws from the complete repertoire of contemporary photography in his own specific way. Like Gursky’s subtle interventions in the photographed image, the comprehensively planned Wall-images, void of every trace of coincidence, lead just as much to a reevaluation of realism and staging in the age of digital simulation. Both of these positions exemplify an important tendency in contemporary photography.

Body Images, Modules, and Data Supplies

The word subtle only rarely applies to the interventions carried out on portraits and body images in the 1990s. Parallels between electronic image processing and genome decoding led to images in which the body was interpreted as a changeable material, as an instrument for future experiments, and the projection surface for variable notions of identity. Uncertainties about terms such as ‹subject› and ‹body› were as much on display as articulating fundamental critiques of what was possible with genetic engineering. [10] Still clothed in the suggestion of a photographic image, in each case these body images seem to refer to separate individuals and their specific physicality – even though these are not depictions, but rather more like visions. The factuality of photography obviously no longer applies in these drastically altered images, but nevertheless makes an odd and all too clear appearance.

Portraits Without Models

Through electronic processing, the individual portrait becomes the depersonalized image of types, masks, and visions of possible faces. In the early 1980s, Nancy Burson produced composite images made up of photographic portraits she fused together into a single person of a certain type. Her pliable images of the series «Big Brother» are the result of overlaying portraits of different twentieth-century dictators, which create from photographs of separate individuals an image of the dictatorial.

Viewers unaware of how these images are made see what they believe to be conventional though not particularly sharp, photographic portraits with aesthetic qualities similar to those of mug-shots.

The photographic suggestion is far more perfect in the excruciatingly sharp, color simulations, «Fictitious Portraits,» by Keith Cottingham. Constructed from different visual reference materials, these pictures of an adolescent possess a material quality which perfectly coincides with that of conventional photographs, since the route of digital production culminates again at the route to analog photographic images. Alongside the flowing inter-media borders not always recognizable for the viewer or user, Cottingham reaches back for a style, subject matter, and visual concept with strong ties to the histories of easel painting and photography. His three fictional portraits, identical in size and style, take up the notion of painted easel portraiture, focussing on the tripleportrait variation among other details. Hung side by side in black frames, in the context of the «Photography After Photography» exhibition they seem perfectly akin with conventional photographs – but they radically question the supposed photographic. Here little remains of photography in the sense of a light-inscribed depiction of reality – perceptual and artistic traditions are merely taken up via the photographic suggestion. While Cottingham completes simulations, since 2001 Thomas Ruff travels an opposing route with «Nudes». Andreas Gursky’s university colleague exploits the so-called ‹thumbnails› used in the Internet – thumbnail-size images that indicate the downloading of a larger format. Ruff downloaded such‹thumbnails› of pornographic images and then attached them to a panel image-format. When greatly enlarged, the low resolution of the images turns them into painterly, blurred images. Here the questioning of authorship and artistic character, of appropriating foreign, commercial materials and artistic innovation, as well as questioning a work’s suitability on the art market, is taken to the limit.

In her media-art-network contribution ‹monstrous bodies,› Yvonne Volkhart has deformed faces and distorted bodies express themselves (cf. Yvonne Volkhart: Monstrous Bodies), shown, for example, in portraits by Anthony Aziz and Sammy Cucher, or the manipulated large-format glossy images by the Dutch artist Inez van Lamsweerde:

In «The Dystopia Series» (1994) by Anthony Aziz and Sammy Cucher, perfect digital retouching blatantly presents itself as an offensive manipulation in their images. The portraits maintain all the formal qualities needed to make viewers perceive them as photographs. Yet the faces are dehumanized, unable to receive sensory impressions or communicate, since the openings for their eyes, noses, mouths, and ears are erased with retouching; robbed of its sensory organs, the face demonstrates the sheer inability to live. Inez van Lamsweerde shows individual people – or better figures – such as «Sasja» or the guys in series «The Forest» against a neutral, white background. Van Lamsweerde maintains all of the formal qualities common to fashion photography, from the made-up faces and puppet-like entrance of the figures to the cool and glossy aesthetics – a cliché twisted in the greatest sense of the word. Her body images are, in part, hybrid combinations made up of men, women, and children whose suggested physicality irritates: men are given the hands of women, children the jawbones of adult males. The people photographed here become hybrid beings. Their ambivalence turns them into modern icons, or worse, into the ugly mugs of a highly-civilized western existence.

«I is an Other»

The following women photographers deal with the body in a totally different manner. They reflect personal identity itself, which appears as simply an expression in the image. Whether Vibeke Tandberg orMitra Tabrizian, while these artists use digital intervention possibilities in the photographic image, they make less of a display of such processes than the already presented artists, who explicitly confront the post-human debate. The following images are less concerned with a drastic physicality; they focus instead on interpersonal communication processes and the definition of one’s own self.

In her current works the Norwegian Vibeke Tandberg, while exploring her theme of identity and sexual roles, also distorts her body and shortens its appendages with electronic interventions. Unlike Lamsweerde, in the series «Undo,» Tandberg intervenes in the image of herself as a woman already several months pregnant and exaggerates the proportions of this physicality. Parallel to this, she casts herself in the series «Old man going up and down a staircase» as an older man, indirectly equating the awkwardness of her pregnant body with an older person’s dwindling ability to move. In the context of examining a subject, additive procedures are just as important as deformation strategies. Bettina Hoffmann stages what appear to be everyday scenes in «affaires infinies» (1997-1999). Similar to Tandberg, she makes herself the one and only protagonist, and, following Rimbaud’s dictum, repeatedly portrays ‹a different person›. Even though this always involves situations with several people, Hoffmann communicates only with herself in the end. In a manner nothing like Cottingham’s, she also takes advantage of electronic montaging and doubling possibilities, developing from photographicallygenerated start-material the images she later recombines on the computer. In the process, her staged everyday scenes concentrate on the moment preceding an actual story.

Like Bettina Hoffmann, who works with film and video among other media, Mitra Tabrizian uses a variety of media as well. In her works, Tabrizian combines a documentary-like visual language with advertising aesthetics in order to draw attention to the ideological undercurrents generated whenever any cultural identity is formed. The culture scientist Stuart Hall refers to Mitra Tabrizian’s works as «fictive visual spaces» which would evolve through the interplay of still photography and references tocinematographic images. [11] At times the references to cinematographic scenes are recognizable, as for instance between Tabrizian’s «The Perfect Crime» and the aesthetics of Takeshi Kitano or Quentin Tarantino films. But the artist not only translates such quotes into her own photographic image-making practices; she also expands on contexts and heightens notions of gender and violence. With its bizarre story-line and excessively glaring colors, her «Beyond the Limits» project (2000) recalls comic books or caricatures. But regardless of how vivid the colors, or how dramatic the plot, the protagonists in Tabrizian’s images are characterized by an irritating lack of emotion: a woman lets her baby fall to the ground, a man shoots himself in the head. Everything is clearly recognizable, even the utter stiffness of those depicted – they seem less like human beings and more like artificial, emotionless Cyborgs or avatars.

Architecture and Landscape

Alongside confronting images of people, architectural and landscape photography, always among the central genres of pictorial history, are also essential to the contents of today’s artistic image-making practices. The first photographs often showed buildings – whose depictions inspired as much amazement as euphoria. The claim made by the literary figure Jules Janin, who visited the studio of Jean Louis Mandé Daguerres in 1839, is meanwhile legendary. Janin was so impressed by the daguerreotype that distinguishing between a real object and its depiction struck him as simply obsolete. He celebrated the photograph of Notre Dame as being a complete substitute for the building, since it quasi materially-inscribes itself in the photosensitive surface of the copper plate, and the photograph, as a simulacrum, takes the place of the object. [12]

Form and Surface – or: What is the Image of Architecture?

Through the styling of ornamental structures as well as serial arrangement principles, present-day artistic, architectural and landscape photography analyzes our perception and notion of urban space, nature, and landscapes.

As already discussed in the section «Realism as Staging,» Andreas Gursky accentuates spatial conceptsand surfaces in order to intensify the documentary-photograph impression. The clarity and depth of field of these images – whether an analog or digital exposure – allow viewers to make associations by way of a skillfully conceived and perfectly executed photography. In his first digitally-processed photograph, «Charles de Gaulle,» Gursky strengthens and intensifies the visual impression of the urban structure by multiplying many times over the complexity of a spatial situation with tube-like connecting routes: the image shows more tubes than there are in reality. Although this creates the impression of a ‹real› architecture – at the same time the image’s confusing, ornamental structure offers the gaze no support and heightens the supposed pictorialness. The Berlin-based artist Heidi Specker confronts the relation of building structure and materiality, for which she takes up the visual language of the Neue Sachlichkeit. Specker analyzes examples of modern architecture, primarily those of the ‹international style› of the 1960s and 1970s. She post-processes these images digitally, as she does, for example, in the series «Speckergruppen Bildings» (1996). The term ‹bildings› combines the words ‹Bild› (image) and ‹buildings› and characterizes Specker’s working method: on the one side, her interest in the challenges posed by juxtaposing analog and computer technologies; on the other, her concern for images and building structures. Specker photographs buildings or architectural details, and later scans and processes them: details such as shadows and spatial incongruities caused by depth are eliminated in favor of achieving a flat structure. Since the results are finally produced with an inkjet printer, the works never simulate conventionally-developed photographs, but rather reveal, at least in part, their production route.

Jörg Sasse deals with architectural and landscape photographs similarly, but meanwhile works primarily with anonymous images. For years now he collects private photographs, snapshots of various situations, postprocesses them on the computer, and finally recirculates them – but not as private images; he recirculates them in the context of art (see the Podium Discussion with Jörg Sasse). [13] Through his finalizing ‹Arbeiten am Bild› (Working on the Image, alsothe title of one of his catalogues), Sasse shifts the conceptual focal point of the photographs. [14] He gives the images new titles, merely four-figure combinations of digits, and new production dates, meaning the year in which he post-processed the found material. His works function at the interface between photography and painting. A good example of this is «9137, 2004», a color-drenched stage production altered to the point where it seems to dissolve in fields of color and dramatic lighting conditions, and whose strongly contrasting light and dark zones recall Baroque easel painting. In «8626, 1999» the red house in the forest is transformed into an oversized object, whose color intensity stands in a stark contrast with the darkgreen of the forest and makes this simple scene suggest the surreal.

In a different manner, the American artist Paul Pfeiffer as well plays with the wealth of collective memory. In his series «Landscapes» (2000), the viewer admires a beach landscape: dazzling light, clouds dispersing. One has to stare a while at what seem like conventional landscape images until, literally, traces of something else, another level, reveals itself: it seems as though someone just ran across the sand. One can barely tell that these images are part of a famous portrait series, namely the photographs of Marilyn Monroe by George Barris: Pfeiffer removes the icon from the pictures, and, in place of Monroe’s image, closes the picture shut with the landscape – and therefore closes the open wound. [15] The backdrop of nature formerly the backdrop for the film star, so unspectacular that we fail to recognize it, now becomes the contents of the image, or at least superficially. But, in reality, Pfeiffer is not only concerned with recording how completely the recognition value of these images is tied to the form of Monroe; he also handles as his theme the idea of the landscape in of itself, the cliché view of the sea, and the role that nature plays in staging a film star, in itself a cliché.

Cliché and Reality, Truth and Appearance

These and similar deconstructions of clichés like those discerned in Pfeiffer’s works represent an original suggestion of contemporary photography – the unmasking of the brute design of authenticityand objectivity, and the question of how appearance and reality relate to one another. In the process, artists deal with either analog, digital, or (post-) photographic techniques – depending on which method seems to suit the moment best. Unlike the at times outlandish forms of electronic retouching and simulations of the mid-1990s, a greater interest in subtler image interventions has meanwhile developed – interventions that irritate viewers, exaggerate photographic competence, and reformulate the question of how one distinguishes between reality and the image. In times of digital simulation technologies, the ontological status of photography can no longer be expected to play a central role anyway, since the relationships and boundaries between unmanipulated, manipulated, and simulated images suggestive of the photographic can no longer be clearly explained. By retrieving and reinterpreting classic themes of pictorial history to date, the art context makes clear to us again in how paradoxical a sense we perceive images, most of all the technically-produced ones, and how influenced we are by practiced conventions of seeing.

Although the authentic depiction is a deception, the naive and nonetheless enduring wish for it, even in times of digital image processing, is then satisfied and disappointed to equal degrees. This hardly means that photography is over and done with, as prophesized in many contributions to the exhibition «Photography After Photography,» but rather that photography is experiencing a radical change which leads to highly diverse imagemaking strategies. These are sometimes realized through photographs, and sometimes they merely follow their aesthetic conventions without ever materializing photographically. For precisely that reason photography’s paradigmatic status for our perception seems, for the time being, more reinforced than about to be removed.

© Media Art Net 2004