Pearls from artists* # 34April 3, 2013
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
To collect photographs is to collect the world. Movies and television programs light up walls, flicker, and go out; but with still photographs the image is also an object, lightweight, cheap to produce, easy to carry about, accumulate, store.
In Godard’s Les Carabiniers (1963), two sluggish lumpen-peasants are lured into joining the king’s army by the promise that they will be able to loot, rape, kill, or do whatever else they please to the enemy, and get rich. But the suitcase of booty that Michel-Ange and Ulysse triumphantly bring home, years later, to their wives turns out to contain only picture postcards, hundreds of them, of monuments, department stores, mammals, wonders of nature, methods of transport, works of art, and other classified treasures from around the globe.
Godard’s gag vividly parodies the equivocal magic of the photographic image. Photographs are perhaps the most mysterious of all the objects that make up, and thicken, the environment we recognize as modern.
Photographs really are experience captured, and the camera is the ideal arm of consciousness in its acquisitive mood.
Susan Sontag in On Photography
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