Susan Sontag, On Photography, Book
As most of my work is comprised of photographs it felt prudent explore the photograph as a source material further. Even though Sontag’s text is over 30 years old now, much it felt relevant to our relationship we have with photographs today, perhaps even more so. Sontag talks about the time that she wrote the book as being image saturated, ‘where sunsets look banal because they look to much like photographs’. If that were true, then iit would be even more true now, where user generated content has lead an explosion of visual information on the internet.
The primary aspect I took away from On Photography was how Sontag talks about photograph as a way of collecting the world. I wanted to compare this to my habit of collecting images, nearly all photographs, from the internet and magazines. I have a compulsion to collect a sample of the world, but as Sontag elaborates, those images need to be viewed as an interpretation of the world that is moulded by methods, conventions, ideologies and zeitgeist.
Every image I have collected would, in Sontag’s opinion, be its own record of a particular moment that is bound with intent, accident, spontaneity or staging, and Sontag was writing 30 years before the web 2.0. Now each image is further charged with the multiple layers of filtering and algorithms that have brought the image to my google search or social media. What interests me in particular are the processes and mechanisms in which the real world has been churned into photograph, and Sontag’s book has given me an apparatus to understand that, albeit only from the shutter click to the point those images are put online.