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.  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?!).