Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"taking" images

is Composition's reluctance to encourage student-produced images vs. study of existing ones a function of our notion of images as "stolen," . . .
"taken," a form of "fraud" or "plagiarism"?

in "Intention and Artifice," William J. Mitchell (MIT . . . not WJT Mitchell) writes of the near-criminal status of photographers, comparing them with painters, who are, rather, Aristotelean "fabricators."Mitchell explains:

The painter, the photographer, and the digital imager have different social and cultural roles to play. A painter, firstly, is traditionally seen as an artificer, a patient maker, an urbanized craftsperson who transmutes formless raw materials into images. We naturally use the language of personal intention--reference, comment, expression, irony, conviction, truthfulness, and deception--to describe this process. There seems a comfortable fit with the Aristotelian conception of a fabricator, impelled by an anticipatory idea, who imposes form on matter. But photography evokes predatory metaphors: a picture is "taken," the photographer operates in a ruthlessly competitive economy of image hunting and gathering. Photographs are trophies--won by skill and cunning and luck, by being in the right place at the right time, and by knowing how to aim and when to shoot. [62] Form is out there to be discovered, then impressed on matter by means of a swift, automatic process.

i wonder if we imagine "writers" alongside Mitchell's painters and thereby sideline work in image-production as though such work were about enabling fraud or criminal behavior. i don't, but i still see a lot of image work as a kind of threshold to "writing" about a thing, concept, phenom, which is often useful and important, but maybe not all there is. it could be simpler (and more complex; don't you hate it when people do that?!).

No comments:

stand up straight & let me get a look at you

It's awards show Sunday, so i'm giving Margot. I'm through with the wishfulness and angst and regret, and Margot, more than an...