Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
The Judgement Seat

The Judgement Seat

Ratings: (0)|Views: 29 |Likes:
Published by Paul Vincent

More info:

Published by: Paul Vincent on Sep 16, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

02/14/2014

pdf

text

original

 
The Judgment Seat of PhotographyAuthor(s): Christopher PhillipsSource:
October,
Vol. 22 (Autumn, 1982), pp. 27-63Published by: The MIT PressStable URL:
Accessed: 20/05/2010 13:56
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=mitpress.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
The MIT Press
is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to
October.
http://www.jstor.org
 
TheJudgmentSeatofPhotography
CHRISTOPHERPHILLIPS
Fromaphotographicrint,for example,onecan makeanynumberof prints;to askorthe"authentic"rintmakes no sense.-WalterBenjamin,"The Workof Artin theAgeofMechanicalReproduc-tion"Myidealisto achievetheabilitytoproducenumberlessrintsfromeachnegative,printsallsignificantlyalive,yetindistinguishablyalike,andtobe abletocirculatethemat apricenohigherthanthatofapopularmaga-zine or evenadailypaper.Togainthatabilitytherehas beenno choicebuttoollowthepaththatIhavechosen.-AlfredStieglitz, catalogueprefacetohis exhibition attheAndersonGalleries,1921Photography,at leastfrom theinceptionofFoxTalbot'snegative/positivetechnique,would seemtheverytypeofwhatJeanBaudrillardhasrecentlycalledthe"industrialsimulacrum"--hisdesignationforallof thoseproductsofmodern industrialprocessesthatcanbe saidto issueinpotentiallyendlesschains ofidentical,equivalentobjects.1 Duplicability,seriality,"copies"thatrefer back to no"original":thesearethe hallmarks ofBaudrillard's "orderofsimulacra."Theyare,aswell,preciselythosecharacteristics onemightascribetophotographyas theprincipalsource ofthemassimagerythatceaselesslycir-culatesthroughouttheglobalsociete' econsommation.
1.JeanBaudrillard,L'Echangeymboliquetlamort,Paris,EditionsGallimard, 1976,pp.85-88.
 
OCTOBERThisperspective,needless tosay,isconsiderablyatoddswiththe institu-tional trends thathave,inrecentyears,bornephotography triumphantlyintothemuseum,the auctionhouse,and thecorporateboardroom.Acuriousdenial-orstrategicavoidance-of thefactofphotography'ssheermultiplicityinforms much oftoday'sauthoritative discussionofthemedium. Consider theassertionof thepresentdirector ofthe Museumof Modern Art'sDepartmentofPhotographythat "aphotographicprintisamuchlesspredictableproductthanaprintfrom anengravingoranetching plate,"or hisassurance that thelikelihoodofaphotographersbeing"abletrulytoduplicateanearlierprintisveryslight."2Thispassagefrommultiplicity,ubiquity,equivalencetosingularity, rarity,andauthenticityseemsconvenientlyto account for the kind ofclosure effectedbyphotography'sgradualreconstitution as an artand as themuseum'snaturalandspecial objectofstudy.When weturn,however,toconsider theinstitu-tionalsettingin whichthistransformationmightbe saidprincipallyto havetakenplace,wequicklydiscover theprocessto have been morecomplexandequivocalthansuspected.Ispeak,ofcourse,of the MoMADepartmentofPhotography,whichfornearlyhalf acentury,throughits influential exhibi-tions andpublications,haswithincreasing authorityset ourgeneral"horizonofexpectation"withrespecttophotography.MoMA's assimilationofphotographyhasindeedproceeded,on the onehand,throughaninvestingofphotographywith what WalterBenjamincalledthe"aura"oftraditionalart-accomplished,in thiscase,by revampingoldernotions ofprintconnoisseurship,transposingtheordering categoriesofarthistorytoa newregister,andconfirmingtheworkadayphotographeras creative artist.Butequally importanthasbeenthemuseum's considerableeffort toreappropriate,on its ownterms,thoseveryaspectsofphotographicreproducibilitybelievedbyBenjamintosignaltheaura's demise.Theculturaltransformation ofphotographyinto a museum artprovides,andinnosmalldegree,an ironicpostscriptto the thesisthatBenjaminelabo-ratedinhis1936essay"TheWork ofArt in theAgeof MechanicalReproduc-tion."Anditis forthatveryreason thatI shallretain,in thebackgroundof thediscussionthatfollows,thepairofterms "cultvalue" and "exhibitionvalue."Theiroppositionprovidesthe basis forBenjamin'sclaimthat "that whichwithersintheageofmechanicalreproductionis the aura of the work of art."3Thisoft-citedfragmentcompressesintoaphorisma rich andingeniousar-gument,onebynowsufficientlyfamiliar torequireno full-scale treatmenthere.Inbrief,Benjamin proceededfrom whathe saw as a historical distinction
2.JohnSzarkowski,"Photographyand the PrivateCollector,"Aperture,ol.15,no.2(Sum-mer1970),n.p.3.WalterBenjamin,"TheWorkof Art intheAgeofMechanicalReproduction,"trans.HarryZohn,inIlluminations,NewYork,SchockenBooks,1969,p.223.
28

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->