Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before 0300136846, 9780300136845

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introduct io n

Each answer remains in force as an answer only as long as it is roo ted in

questioning. Heidegger, "The Or igin of the Work of Art"

J have always liked photog rap hy, and in a low- key way I was always intereste d in ir. I bough t a Berenice Abbott prim of an Arget bedroo m ar rhe Willard Ga llery in New York Cit y more t han rhirry years ago, and have lived for a long rime with photog rap h s by Evans, Baldus, Frith, and O'S u llivan (a part icular fa vorite). Ove r rhe years, too, I attende d numerous ex h ibit ions of pho to gra phy, th ough rarely wit h rh e sense of urgency rhar I felt with respect to ex hib itions of modern painting or sc ulptur e. Bur unril recen tly I did nor have any strong int u itions abo ut pho to gra phy, an d without such an intuition - some sort of ep iphany, real or imag ined - I have never been mot ivated to write o n anyt hing. Th en several things happene d. First, I got ro know J am es Welling and his work because frie nd s in Ba ltimo re wa lked inro his first show at Metro Pictures and bough t seve ral o f the " Diary" photographs; soo n they became close to him . l found t ha t I liked his p hotographs eno rm ously, an d we, too, became friends . And t hen about ten years ago, by sheer chance, I mer J eff Wall at the Boymans Museum in Ro tterdam and dis covered that, to put it mild ly, we were int erested in many of rhe sam e p ictorial issues . I had been aware o f Wall's work for years an d had even had an in k ling of our share d co ncerns, bur meet ing him and excha nging rhoughrs was galvanizing for me. Fro m that moment on I starred look ing seriously at recent photog rap hy, a process grea tly aided b y major exhibitions of work by figur es s uch as Welling, Wall, Andr eas Gursky, Tho m as St ruth, Bernd and H illa Becher, Tho m as Demand, Rineke Dijkst ra, Ca ndida Hofer, H iroshi Sugim oto, and Luc Delahaye, among orhers. To my surpri se I fairly quick ly b ecame gr ippe d by the though t rhat a ll rhar work, and m uc h else b esides, hung together artistica lly in ways rhat it seeme d to me no one else writi ng ab out the to pic had qui te recognized . At t hat poinr, I bega n dra fti ng whar J hoped woul d be a short book on recen t art photogra p hy that would convey rhe gist of m y think ing . Prett y soo n, though, ir became clear t hat no suc h short book was in the cards . Rather, if I wan ted to do jus t ice to my sub ject, I would have to de a l with the work of more th a n fifteen photogra p hers (and, ir rurne d o ur, video and film makers) in suf fic ient deta il to co nvey a sense of wha t eac h was up to and at rhe same rime to allow th e co n nectio ns I saw among rheir ind ividual projects ro emerge. Thi s is what I have trie d to do in Why Photography Matters as Art as Nev er Before.


The basic idea behind whar follows is simple. Srarr ing in rhe lare , 970s and 1980s, arr phorographs began ro be made nor on ly ar large sca le bur a lso - as rhe French crir ic J ca n -Fran ~ois Ch ev rier wa s th e firsr ro po inr our - for th e wall; this is widely known an d no one will conresr ir. What I want ro add is rhar the momenr rhis rook place - I am thinking, for example, of Ruff 's passporr-sryle porrrairs (wh ich begin modesr in scale bur are marked fro m the srarr by rhe for-rhe-wa llness thar Chevr ier rightl y regards as decisive), Wall's firsr lighrbo x transparencies, and Jean -M a rc Busramanre's Tableaux issues concerning rhe relationship berween rhe pho rograph and rhe viewer sranding before it became cru cial for phorography as they had ne ver previous ly bee n. M o re precisely, so I wanr ro claim, such photography immediarely inherited rhe enrire problemaric of beholding- in rhe rerms defined in my previous wri t ing, of rhearricaliry and an rirhe atrica liry - rhar had been cenr ral, first, to rhe evo lution of painr ing in France from rhe middle of the eighteent h cenrury unril rhe advenr of Edoua rd Maner and his gene rarion around 1860, an evo lurio n explo red in my books Absorption and Theatricality, Courbet 's Realism, and Manet's Modemism ; and second, co rhe opposition between high modernism and minim a lism in rhe mid- a nd lare 1960s, as expounded in, and perhaps exacerba red by, my "infamo us" essay "Arr and Objecr hood. » 1 Whar rhis has meant in indi vidual cases will become clear in rhe course of rhis book, bur I might as well acknowledge at the outser rhat my mor ivation for wr iti ng abour recent arr photography has every thin g ro do wirh my be lief that issues of rhe sort I have jusr named rhar mig hr hav e seeme d (rhar did seem, ro me as muc h as ro anyone else) quir e po ssibly forever inva lidated by the eclipse of high mode rn ism an d th e t riump h of posrmodernis m borh arr isrically and rheorerically in the 1970s and 'Sos have returned, may I say dialectically, to rhe very cenrer of advanced phorographic pracrice. Pur slightly diff erentl y, I shall rry ro show rhar the mos r characteristic pro ducti o ns of all rhe photograph e rs jusr mentione d (and ot hers as we ll) belong ro a single photographic regime, which is ro say ro a single com plex srrucrure of rhemes, co ncerns, and represenra riona l srra regies, whic h on rhc one hand repr esents an epocha l develo pment w irhin rhe hisrory of art phorography and on th e othe r can only be unders tood if it is viewed in the context of issues of beholding and of what I rhink of as rhe ontology of pictures rhar we re first th eo rized by Deni s Diderot wirh respect to stage dram a and painting in rhe lare 1750s and '6os . This means, among other things, thar rhe chapters that follow co nsta nt ly refer ro my own earlier writings; I declare rhis up front, ro preempt the facile cr iticism rhar I am excessively preocc upi ed wirh my ow n ideas . I am pr eoccup ied wirh those ideas, for the sim ple reason rha r rhey seem ro me ro hold the key ro much (far from every rhing, much less rhan half of eve ryrhing, but srill, a grear deal ) in the picrorial arts of rhe pasr 2.50 years. The qu esrion, in orher words, is no r whe th er in rhis book I am ex plo ring ropics and issues I have discusse d before bur rather whether Ill) ' interpretations of spec ific works by a number of rhe leading phorographers of our rime, and beyond rhar my account of the lar ger project of much conrempora ry arr ph otography, a re or are not persua sive as rhey sran d. (I kn ow ir is roo much ro ask, bur it would be useful if reade rs impatient wirh whar I have done were ro feel compe lled ro offer superior interprera rions of rhe ir ow n.)

why photography matters as art as never before

T he organizat ion of Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Befor e is as follows . Chapter One sketches three possible "beginn ings," each of which involves t hree terms, by way of indicating something of t he scope of the issues to be dealt with in subse qu ent chapters . C hap ters Two and Thr ee are co ncerne d wit h works by Jeff Wall; the first also says some t hing abou t the concep t of worldhood as it is theor ized in Mart in Heidegger's Being and Time {also ab out the not ion of techn ology as deve loped in his later essay "The Quest ion Co ncerni ng Techn ology") and the second abou t the concep t of t he everyday as it emerges in a remarkable ext ract from Ludwig Wittgenstein's note books for 1930, both o f these in relat ion to Wall's pictures . {For various reasons, Wall's work plays a large r role in t his bo ok than t hat of any ot her photograp her.) Cha pter Four comprises a reading of Ro land Bart hes's Camera Lucida, with partic ula r attent ion to his no tion of the /Junctum; my aim is to show that Camera Lucida is everywhere driven by an unacknow ledged antitheatr icalism and that it the refore bears a close relation ship to t he larger argume nt of this boo k. C hapte r Five exam ines T homas Strut h's mu seum pictures, and Cha pter Six a range of works by Thomas Ruff, Andr eas Gursky, and Luc Dela haye. Chap ter Six also includes a br ief discuss ion of Chevrier's account of t he new "tableau form, " on e of the few sign ificant co ntribm ions to a t heo ry of the new art photogra ph y with whic h I am fam ilia r. Chap ter Seven, on photographic portra itur e, co nsiders Struth 's fami ly port rait s, Rineke Dijkst ra's beach ph otog rap hs, Pat rick Fa igenba um's busts of Roman emperors, Dela haye's L'Autre, a boo k of black-and -white photographs made with a hidde n came ra o f passenger s on the Paris Metro, Roland Fischer's portra its of monk s and nuns, and Douglas Gordo n and Phi lippe Par reno's film Z idane : A TwentyFirst Century Portrait . Ch apter Eight, organize d around the the me of st reet photogra ph y, exa mines Wall's Mimic, Bear Streuli's videos and phorographs of crowds made wit h a concea led ca mera, an d vario us pictures and a pho tobook by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Chapte r Nine looks at wo rks by T homas Demand a nd Ca ndid a H ofer before closi ng with bri ef remarks a bout Hiros hi Sugimoto's "Seasca pes," St ruth's " Paradi se" ph otographs, and two gat herings of pho togra phs of anim als in zoos by Garry Winogrand and H ofer. C haprer Ten, the climax to t he boo k, begins with a few wo rds abou t James Welling's ea rly Polaroid photograph, Lock, by way of sett ing the scene for an interpretat ion of Bern d and Hilla Becher's Typolog ies, one of t he most orig inal and impr essive - also, I sha ll t ry to show, philoso ph ically one of the most profound - artistic achieveme nt s of the past fifty years. Noti on s o f " true " or "genuine" versus "bad" or "spur ious" infini ty as pu t forward by G. W. F. Hegel in his Science of Logic an d Encyclopedia Logic are central to my arg ument, as is the theme of objec thoo d in "Art and Objecthood ." The cha pte r ends wit h a bri ef read ing of Wall's Concrete Ball. Ther e follows a Con clu sion, bea rin g t he sa me title as the book, that at onc e reviews and extends my overall argum ent before closing wit h a discussion of one last work by Wall, Aft er "Spring Snow" by Yukio Mish ima. As t his su mmary sugges ts, philoso phica l texts by Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Hegel (also by Stanley Cave ll and Rob ert Pippin) are vital to my pro ject; this is because the new arr photography has fou nd itself compelle d to do a certa in amount of what I thin k of as ontolo gica l wor k, and beca use the writ ings of t hose pa rt icu lar philosophers have

introd uction


pr oved indispensable ro my efforts ro mak e clear exactly what this has involved. Othe r writer s who figure in thi s book in tex t and not es (apart from numerou s co mm entato rs on my photographer -subjec ts) are C hevrier, Bart hes, Brassa"i on Pro ust an d Prou st himself, the anonymous author of a French eighteenth-century conte, Susa n Sonta g, Clement Greenbe rg, Gertrude Stein in her essay " Pictur es," Heinr ich von Kleist, Robert Musil, Brian O'Doherty, Walter Benn Michaels (whose writing s on photo graph y bear closely on my arguments), and , per haps most surpri singly, Yukio Mishima in several pa ssages in his great terralogy , Th e Sea of Fertility. H oweve r, my focus will be overwhelmingly on th e photograph s I ha ve chose n to discuss. Two more point s. First , in my introduction to Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews, I insist that "be tween m)•self as histor ian of the French antirh eati ca l tradition and the crit ic who wrot e ' Arr and Objecrhood ' there loom s an unbridgeable gulf . ... 11see J no way of nego tiating th e differen ce between the priorit y given in [my earl y arr crir icismJ to judgment s bot h po sit ive and negat ive and the princ ipled refusa l of all such jud gme nt s in rhe pur suit of historical und erstanding Jin Absorption and Theatricality, Courbet's Realism, and Manet's Modernism]." 2 This seemed ro me a mat ter of some imp ort anc e, if onl y beca use I did nor want to be unde rsto od as end orsing Diderot's views of individual artist s (for example, deprecatin g Watteau ). Well, as the reader of Why Photography Matt ers as Art as Never Before is about to discove r, th e gulf in qu estion no longer loo ms as it pr evio us!)' did; pu t slightly differentl y, th e pr esent book turn s our to be generica lly mix ed - at once crit icism and history, jud gme nt al and non-judgm ental , engage d and detached - in ways that would hav e been inco mpr ehensible ro me only a short rime ago .J Second , a word about my epigraph . Th e citat ion from Heidegger, " Eac h answe r rem a ins in force as a n answer onl y as long as it is roo ted in ques t ioning ," was previously used by me as t he epigraph ro rhe introductor y essay, " About my Arr C rit icism," to th e 1998 anthol ogy of 111)' arr crirical writ ings, Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews. Whe n I plac ed it there , 1 meant to signal an aw a rene ss that th e issues grap pled with in my arr criticism of the 1960s were no longer burnin g topi cs in conte mp o1ary a rr (the introdu ct ion dar es from 1995-6 ), and that I ought nor rob e ima gined as standing behind each and eve ry claim in my ear ly writings as if nothing significa nt had happened in th e intervening years . By using it ag ain here, however , I mean to signal som ethin g almost exac tly op posite: rhar the issues of rhearri ca liry and objecrhood rhar were cru cia l to my arr criticism in J 966-7 a re once aga in, in Heidegger's tremendou s phr ase, "roote d in que stio nin g," nor least ques ti oning conducted with great force and brilliance by the photographers them selves. Inde ed the questioning had begun well befor e I wrote that introduc tory essay, bur I did nor know it then. Now I do.


why photography

matters as art as never before

three beginni ngs


There are rhree b eginni ngs to rhis book, eac h of which in irs own way pre pares rhe grou nd fo r t he chapt ers th ar follow. The firsr rakes off from a consi deration of rhe Ja pan ese ph otograp her Hiro shi Sugimoto's widely ad111ired black-and-whire photographs of mov ie rhearer s in different ciries in rhe Unired Srares, w hich he began 111 aking in rhe 111 id- , 97os, while he was srill phorograph ing di ora111asin 111u se u111 s of natura l histo ry- his firsr m arure body of wo rk (Figs. , an d 2.). (Sug i111o to, born in Japan in 1.948, came to rhe Uni red Srares in 1970 to srudy arr. Since rhen he has rraveled widely bur lives mainly in New York. I shall have some thin g ro say abour his "Seascapes" larer in rhis book .) He went on mak ing rhe movie rhearer phorogra ph s for another rwe nt y-five years : in the cara logu e to his 2005 - 6 trav elin g ret rospective exhib itio n rhey a re dated 1975 - 2.001. In char catalogue, too, Sugimoto prov ides rhe fol lowing brief intro ductory sra rem enr ro rhose pictures : I am a habirual se lf-inte rlocu tor. O ne even ing whi le raki ng p hotographs fof dioramas ] ar rhe American Muse u111of Na tur a l H isrory, I had a near-hall ucinatory visio n. My internal ques t ion-and-a n swer session lead ing up to rh is vision went so meth ing like rhis: "Su ppose yo u sh oo r a whole movie in a single fra111e?"Th e answer: " You ger a sh ining screen." Immediately I began ex per iment ing in or der to realize rhis vision . One afterno on I wa lked in ro a c heap cine ma in rhe Easr Village wit h a large-formar camera . As soo n as rh e mov ie sta rted , I fixed the s hutt er ar a wide-o pen ape rtur e. When rhe m ovie finished rwo hou rs later, I clicked rhe shurrer clo sed. Thar evening I deve loped the film, and m y vision ex ploded befo re m y eyes.' In orher words, the dazzl ing blank ness, rhe sheer whireness, o f che scree ns in rhe mo vie rhearer photographs are rhe resulr of leav ing rhe shurre r ope n chroug hour an enti re film; by th e same token , there was jusr enough cum ulati ve reflected ligh t fro m the scree n ro make poss ible rhe relative ly dark bur a lso m ar velous ly detai led registrat io n of rhe rhearer interio rs themse lves. Now, I have no wish to challenge the veracity of Sugimoto's accou n t of how he came ro make rhe movie theat er pho tog rap hs. Bur ir s ho uld be noted t har he presents his doing so as rhe ourco me o f a so lita ry brill iant int uirion, as if rhe photographs spran g full y co n ceived ou r of his q uest ioning mind and thus had nothi ng wharever to do wirh any rhing else rakin g place in photography at approximately t he same mo m ent. Maybe thi s rea lly is how t hey ca m e to be m ade. Yer th e facr remains rhar rhe seco nd half of t he 1970s saw ar leasr rwo orhe r n orable iniriarives in "a rt " photography rhar engage d head-on with the quesrion of cinema, and I want to sugges r rhat unless rhose init iat ives are ta ken

three beg,nnings


Hir os hi Sugimoto, U.A. Walker, New York, 1978 . Gelatin silver print. u9.4 x 149.2 cm, Negative 213 1

2 Hir os hi Sugimoto, Ohio Theater, Ohio, 1980 . Gelatin silver print. 1 19.4 x 149.2 cm, Negative 205

into conside rarion, one's sense of Sugimo ro's achieve ment in rhe movie theate r photo graphs risks being curio usly abstract, cut off from the contem pora ry histo ry of which it was a part. l refer to the early work of Cindy Sher man and Jeff Wall. Sherman first. The works I have in mind are her famous Untit led Film Stills, modesrsized black-and-w hite photographs which she made between r977 and 1980 .2 T hey are, of cour se, not actua l film st ills but ph otographs imita t ing t he look of film st ills, and in all rhe images (a tota l of eighty-four) t he protagonist is Sherman herself, or rather one or ano t her female "c har acter" who m Sherman is play ing or imp ersonat ing (in a ll the photographs she is alone, no one else appears). There is by now a vast critical lirerarure on Sherm an's work, muc h of it in my op inio n t heo retica lly overblow n,3 bur here are some interes t ing remar ks by Sher man herself: I liked rhe H itchcock look, Anto nion i, Neo realist st uff. What I didn't want were pictures showing st rong emot ion . In a lor of movie photos rhc actors look cute, impish, allurin g, d ist raught , frighrene d, rough , ere., bur what I was int eresred in was wh en they were almost express ion less. Whic h was rare to see; in film stills there's a lot of overac t ing because th ey're trying ro sell rhe movie. Th e movie isn't necessa r ily funny or happy, bu r in those pub liciry photos, if there's one cha racte r, she's smiling. Ir was in Europea n film st ills that I'd find wome n who were more neutral, and maybe the origina l films were ha rder to figure our as well. I foun d thar mo re mysterious. I looke d for it consc iously; I didn't want to ha m ir up , an d I knew rhat if I acted too hap py, or too sad, or scared - if rhe emotio nal quot ient was too high - t he photograp h would seem campy. 181 O ne way of gloss ing rhis might be to say that by her own account, despite rhe fact t hat she was in effect "pe rformi ng" for the camera - dress ing up, mak ing up, arranging rhe scene, and finally playing a role - Sherman at the same time felt impelled to avoid displays of emorio n and by imp licat ion entire scenes t hat might stri ke rhe viewer as theatrica l in rhe pejorative sense of the rerm. (The wo rd is mine, no t hers. T his is nor to say rhar a ll the Untit led Film Stills are eq ually restrained. I need hardly add rhat the issue of t heat r icality looms large bot h in my art critical essay of 1967, "Art and Objecrhood," and in my histo rical studi es of the evol ution of paint ing in Fra nce bet ween the middle of rhe eighteenth cent ury and the adve nt of Ma net and his genera tion in the early , 86os .4 ) Acco rdingly, in most of the Stills Sherman depicts characte rs who app ear absorbed in thoug ht or feeling (Fig. 3); or who look "offscreen" in a man ner that suggests t hat their attentio n has been dra wn, fleetingly or ot herwise, by somethin g or someone ro be fou nd there (Fig. 4); or who gaze close up at their own image in a mirror (Fig. 5); or who are viewed from the rear or the side, from an elevated or "depressed" viewpoi nt, from a co nsidera ble distance, or unde r orher circumstances that ru le out the possibi lity of any implied commu nicat ion between t he per sonage in t he photograph and rhe viewer (Fig. 6). Thro ugho ur the series the bas ic movies co nventio n (or diegeric law ) of never depicting the subject looki ng directly ar the camera is in force,' and in general the cinematic characte r of the photographs co uld hardly be more emp hatic. But there is also a convergence bet ween a numb er of the actional and structural mot ifs char one

three beg innings


3 Cin dy Sher ma n , Untitled Film St ill, #53, 1980 . Ge lat in silver print . 16 .2 x 24 cm. M useum of Mod ern Arr, New York . Grace M. Ma yer Fun d

4 Cindy Sherman , Untit led Film Sti ll, #9, 1978 . Ge la tin silver print. 18 .9 x 24 cm . Mu seum of Mo dern Art, New York. Purchase


5 Cin dy Sher man , Untitled Film Still, #56, r980 . Gela tin silver print. r6.2 x 24 cm . Mu seum o f Mod ern Art, New York. Acqui red throu g h th e genero sity of J o Carole a nd Rona ld S. Laude r in memor y o f Mr s John D. R ocke fe ller 111 6 C ind y Sherman, Untitled Film Still, #48, r 979 . Gelatin silver print. 16.2 x 24 c m. Mu seum of Mo d ern Arr, New York. Acqu ir ed throug h th e gene rosity of J o Caro le a nd Ron a ld S. Laud er in memory of Eug ene S. Schwartz

7 (righ t and faci ng /Jnge)

Jeff Wall, M nuie Aud ience, 1 979. Seven transpa rencies in thr ee lightboxcs. Eac h tra nsparency 10 1. 5 x 105 cm

finds in the Stills an d mot ifs deployed by eighteenth - and nin eteenrh-cenrury French pa int ers in the inrerest of what l have called a nti t hea trica lit y (as Regis Durand recognizes aprop os o f the t rea tment of the subj ect's gaze in Sherman 's Rear Scree11Projectio11 s of 1980) .6 I sha ll ha ve much mor e to say ab out thi s issue furth er on in t his chap ter a nd in tho se that follow, but I wa nr to stop shore o f characteri zing the Stills as ant itheatric a l pur e a nd simple for tw o reason s. First , it is not clear - at least not at this prelim inar y point in rhe la rge r argumen t of this boo k - w hat such a claim can mean in the rea lm o f ph otograph y or indeed th at of cinema (a sepa rat e topic) and therefore, 11 fortiori, in t he rea lm o f a co nce pti on of ph otograp hy th at o penly presents itself as parasit ic if not on cinema itself t hen on a part icula r cinemat ic a rt ifact, the film st ill. Second , Sherm an 's Stills both individually an d (even more exp licitly) as a group present themselves as having been delib erat ely staged by the photogra pher - and is not ''s tagedn ess" such as one find s in these images a marker o f t hea trica lity, nor its ant ithesis? Th e answer to thi s question, which will eme rge as I proceed, is fairly comp lex, but rhe poinr I want to und ersco re is t hat Sherm an's Stills raise rhe qu estion in a particula rly pressing form {they are not simpl y t heat rical, in ocher wor ds), w hich is also to say that t here is more to them as works of a rt tha n br illiant visua l deco nst ructi ons of fictions o f feminity, which is mostly ho w t hey have been und ersto od .7 Jeff Wa ll, the ot her key figure I want to cite in this co nn ection, made The Destroyed Room, his first lightbox pictur e - a C iba chrom e t rans pa rency illumin ated fro m behind by fluoresce nt bulb s, thro ugh out almost all his ca reer his preferred medium - in 1978.k Fro m the o ut set, his art has involved t riangulat ing ben vcen photog raphy, paint ing, and cinema, as he himself has repeated ly stated in essa ys and interview s. (A pa rtic ularly splend id exa mple of such t riangulatio n, Momi11g Cleani11 g, Mies van der Rohe Fou11 datio11 , Barce/o11 a f r999 J, w ill be the pr incipal wo rk d iscu ssed in C hap ter T hree.) In fact, in Wall's rece ntly publ ished cata logue raiso nne all his work s ar e chara cterized by him either as " docu mentary " or " cinematograp hic" pho togra phs, the latt er rerm implying some meas ur e of preparat ion of t he motif - some meas ur e of "s taging," in other


why photography

matters as all as never before

words. As in Sherma n's case, the larger q uestio n of the exact scope and n ature o f Wall's exp loitatio n of movies and the thought of movies lies beyond the scope of this in tro duction - in fact la m aware of scan ting the subjec t in my chapters o n Wall and for that matter in this book generally . However, one early work by Wa ll is especially relevant to Sugimoto's Mov ie Theaters : Movie Audience o f 1979 (Fig. 7), which co mprises seven lightbox portraits of pe rsons seen slig htly fro m below, all of whom gaze towa rd the lcfr as if towa rd a movie screen on wh ich a film is being pro jected, their faces illum inated from the lefr as if by reflected ligh t fro m that screen. Each portrait is abou t one meter high and wide, and the seven have been grouped in three un its depict ing o ne "fa m ily" (" mot her," "ch ild ," and "fa t her" ) and two youthful couples. By cla imi ng that Movie Aud ience is especia lly relevant to Sugimoto 's Movie Theaters l mean tha t whereas the latter with their blan k sc reen s are in almost all cases co mplete ly devoid of an aud ience, Wall's Movie Audience purports ro be a representatio n of members o f such an au dien ce

three beginnings


(tho ugh we as viewers do not for a moment im agine that his personages are act ually watc hing a movie und er ordinary co nd itio ns; for one thin g, the light falling on their faces is muc h too stro ng for that to be cre dible). In 198 4, to accompany an exhi bition of t his wo rk in Base l, Wall wrote a text of several pages in a tort uous, post-Adorno idio m t hat contra sts st r ikingly with the exce ptional lucidity of his other wri t ings abou t pho tograp hy (the most disting uished body of writing on the to pic of the past thirty years, in my opi nion). One paragraph suffices to convey the teno r of the whole: W hen we go to the cinema, we enter a t heat re (or what remains of a theatre) which has been re-insta lled in a monume nral isi ng mac hine. Th e hu ge fragmented figures projected on the screen are the magnified sha rd s of the o utm oded thespia ns. This implies that the film spectator has also become a fragment of society which acquires ident ity throu gh its repetitio us accumulat ion ; in thi s process it beco mes an "au dience." The audience is not watch ing the prod uct of t he action of a machine; iris inside a machine and is expe riencing the phantasmagoria of t hat interio r. T he audience knows t his, but it knows ir t hrough t he labour of trying to forget it. Thi s amnes ia is w hat is known cul tur a lly as pleasure and happ iness. On t he other ha nd, the utopia of the cinema consists in the ideal of happy, pleasan t lucidity which wo uld be created by the revolutionary negation and transfo rm at ion of amnesi ac and mon um ent alising cultural forms. Cinemat ic spectarorship is a somnamb uli stic approa ch toward utop ia. 9 At the risk of simplify ing Wall's thought, T might note, first , that the top ic of theater, hence of t heatricali t y, is definitely in play, and second, that Wall is struc k by the fact that a movie au dience (as one might say) " loses itse lf" or, per ha ps more accura tely, "fo rgets itself" in the experie ncing of a mo vie, or rather is led or induced by the apparatus and the situatio n to seek to do so (Wall : "Th e aud ience knows !that it is inside the exper iencing mac hinej, bur it kn ows it t hrough the la bour of tryi ng to forget it"). Thus the " utopia of t he cinema" - which presumably has not been achieved - would be to convert this trop ism toward forgetting into a kind of "happy, pleasant lucid ity" abo ut the whole expe rience, a lucidity that wou ld nor simply be a form of distanci ng and alienat ion. (Wall associa tes the latter condit ions, dista ncing and alienatio n, wit h what he calls "crit ical modernism" jsee below] - Ben oit Brecht and Jean-Luc Godard wou ld be the models here, not Morris Louis or Ant hony Caro.) As for Movie Audience it self, Wall goes on to say that he trie d to make it anticipate, even evo ke, its own mom ent of trial and occl usion as modernist arr, its o wn transfo r mation into tyran nical decor. [In ot her words, its own conscri ption to an experie ntial regime of imme rsion and forgett ing.] T his is greatly facilitated by the lighting techn ology used to make the piece, wh ich itself induces a kind of pri mal specular fascinatio n o r absorpt ion which is in some ways ant ithetical to the cond itions of reflective and artificia l est rangement indispensa ble to the un happy lucidity of critical mode rni sm. [28 11 At the same time, the fact that Movie Audience has been hun g unusua lly high by Wall himself is on the side of est rangemen t rather than fascination - it is har d to lose oneself in an image conside rably above one's head.


why photography

matters as art as never before

Here it is wort h gla ncing at some remarks a bou t movies that appear in "Art and Objec t hood": lt is the overco ming of theater t hat modern ist sens ibilit y finds most exa lting an d that it experie nces as the ha llma rk of high art in our time. There is, howeve r, one art rhar, by irs very narure, escapes t heate r ent irely - rhe mov ies. This helps explain why movies in gene ra l, including frank ly appa lling ones, a re acce ptab le to mod ernis t sensibi lity whereas all but the most succesf ul paint ing, sculpt ur e, music and poet ry is not. Because cine ma escapes theater - automa tically, as it were - ir provides a welcome and absorbing refuge ro sensibilitie s at war with theater and rhear ricaliry. Ar t he same rime, rhe auto matic , guaranteed chara cter of th e refuge - more accu rately, the fact that what is prov ided is a refuge from theater and nor a triumph ove r ir, absorption no r conviction - means rhat rhe cinema, even ar its most experimental , is nor a modern ist arr. 10

Today I per haps want to qua lify rhe fina l co ncl usion, but my ba sic claim, char rhe absorption or engross ment of rhc movie audience sidesteps, auro marically avoids, the question of thea rricaliry, st ill seems to me - very broa dly-c or rect. It has much in co mmon, I t hink , with Wall's characre rizarion of t he movie aud ience as ar once "i nside a machi ne" an d as "experienci ng the phantasmagor ia of rhar inter ior," though his emphas is on the au dience's " labor" of forgett ing int roduces a note of complex it y ab sent from my cruder form ulat ion. (l shou ld add rhat rhe adverb " autom atic ally" w as not mea nt by me to impl y that rhe avoidance of rhea t rica liry I associate wirh mov ies results simp ly from rhe natur e of rhe appara t us - the camera and pr ojector - as distin ct from t he dep loyment of a hosr of techni ques of acting , directing , scene-settin g, light ing, photogra phin g, sou nd recordin g, editin g, and so on. T he whole q uesti on w ill ha ve to be taken up again o n a futur e occasion.) All rhis leads me to suggest rhat one way of understanding Sugimoto's Movie Theaters, Sherm an 's Untitled Film Stills, and Wall's Movie Audience is as responding in different ways ro rhe pr ob lematic stat us of mov ies in thi s regard by making pho tographs which, althoug h mobil izing one or anot her conve nt ion of movies (or the rhoug hr of movies), also provide a certa in essenti a lly photographic distance from the filmic experience, a distance by virt ue of w hich rhe automaticity of the avo idan ce of theat ricality l have just evoke d is foresta lled or undone. By t his I mean t hat th e issue of theatricality is allowed to come into focus, as a lmost neve r in narrative film as such, and even to be eng aged with as a problem - though not, I sugges t , unambiguously defeated or overcome. (That had to wai t for Do uglas Gordon's brilliant Deja 1111 [2000), nor discussed in this book. I sha ll have a littl e more ro say abour rhe relat ion of film to pho tograp hy as theorized by Roland Barthes in Camera Lu cida in Chapter Fo ur.) In Sherman's Stills, as seen, this is acco mp lished in part through motifs of absorption, distract ion, look ing "offscreen," distance from rhe camera, and the like. In Wall's Movie Audience, it is done by dep ict ing members of an oste nsibly or rather no t ion ally immersed aud ience from a point of view that virtually ass ur es a cert ain crit ica l distance on the pa rt of rhe viewe r but thar at rhe sa me t ime (accordi ng ro Wa ll) seeks at least somewhat to entra nce rhat viewer by means of rhe sheer allur e of the ba ck lit t ransparenc ies. Viewed in rhis context,

three beginn ings


in imp licit dialog ue wit h the work of Sherman an d Wall, rhe blank radiance of Sugirnoto's movie screens present s it self as an abst ract image of spectatorly fascinatio n {think o f t he shiny objects trad itionally ernpl oyed by hypno t ists to fixate a subject 's att entio n), while the fac t t hat in all bu t rhe ear liest Movie Theaters the seats in rhe theate r are empty - there is no audience to be seen - co mes to seem a brilliant figure for, very nearly a represent a tion of, the fascina ted or hypnotized {that is, ab sorbe d or imrnersed) rnovie aud ience's charac terist ic forge tt ing of itsel f and irs positio n w ithin the cinematic "mach ine," to adopt Wall's ter min ology. {The absence of ca rs in Sugimoto's photographs of DriveIns has a co mp ara ble sign ificance .) Ar rhe sarne time, howeve r, the viewer of rhe Movie Theaters and Drive-Ins has no sense of be longing ro t hat {at o nce presen t and absent) movie audience: rather, he or she stan ds conscio usly apart frorn the images in question, and peru ses t heir con t ents in a detached or say disinte rest ed man ner, which in t urn a llows the cornplex relati on to t he filmic ex perience I have tried ro descr ibe to become available on rhe pla ne of critical or t heoret ica l reflection. That pla ne coexists with anot her, shee rly sensu o us one, which conce rn s only the und enia ble and uncanny beauty of t he ph otographs . What I am sugges t ing is that we as viewers oug ht nor ro ler the seco nd ent irely eclipse the first, as of ten ha pp ens in co mrnentaries on Sugimoro's arr; rather, here as elsewhere the case for his irnportance requ ires rhat we take into account the relation of his work to t ha t of his co ntemporaries, a relario n t hat he himse lf in his pub lished st aremen t s seerns conte nt to leave un ack nowledged .

M y seco nd beg inn ing cen ters on t he protracted rnomenr between 1978 and 1981 when three yo un g art ists in d ifferent parts of the wo rld - Wa ll in Vancouver, Th omas Ruff in Diisseld o rf, and Jean -Ma rc Bustamante in P ro vence and nort hern Spain - mo re or less sirnulr aneous ly started to make ph otographs that I am not the first to see as exernplifying a new regime of "art" photography (from now on 1 sha ll drop t he quota tion rnarks), one that the learn ed and acute French cr itic Jean-Fran~o is C hevrier has character ized as the "tableau form." 11 I shall cons ider Chevrier's ideas in greate r deta il at t he start of Chap t er Six, whe re I sha ll also say more about Ruff's breakt hroug h works, his frontal, deadpan, "passport-style" co lor portrai ts of fellow stu dents and ot hers in his immed iare milieu . For prese nt purposes, however, t he t wo distinctive and closely related character istics of rhe new regirne are, first, a tende ncy t owa rd a considerably large r image-size tha n had prev iously bee n thought appropriate to art photogra ph y; and seco nd, an expectatio n or, pu t more stro ngly, an intention that t he pho tograph s in question wou ld be frarned and hun g on a wa ll, to be looked a r like pa intings {hence Chevrier's ter m "ta bleau" ) rather t ha n merel y exami ned up close - pe rhaps even held in the hand - by one viewer ar a rime, as ha d hithe rt o been the ca se. Not that pr evious arr photographs - wo rk s by Carneron, H ill and Adamson, Nadar, Le Gray, Baldus , Emerson, Steic hen, Coburn, Stiegl itz, Strand, Westo n, Eva ns, Rodc henko, Sande r, Carrie r-Bresson, Kert esz, Brassa'i, Wo ls, Levitt, Ada ms, Frank , Calla han, Winogrand, Fr iedland er, Arb us, Brandt, et al. - had no t lent rhernselves perfectly well to being matted, fra med, and


why pho t ography matters as art as never before

exh ibited on the wa ll - obv iously t hey did. Yet co mpar ed to the new work, the re had always seemed so methin g a littl e arb itra ry abou t such a mode of display, as if material images tha t had not been made for the wa ll - which often app ear ed to have been mad e to be reproduced in books an d cata logues, w here they co uld be stud ied in private by individual viewers - co uld not be certified as wor ks of arr unless they were so displayed , usually in gallery or mu seum environm ent s w hich furthe r ma gnified their "est hetic " cac her. T he new work, in con t rast, had its desti nation on the wa ll in view from the first on the level of "form," to use the ot her of Chevrie r 's key word s. It is imm ediately appa rent what t his mean s in the case of Jeff Wall' s early lighrbox pict ures such as The Destroyed Roo m (T978; Fig. 8) and Picture for Women ( 1979; Fig. 9) : not only are both works far larger than pr evious art phot ograp hs bad been (roug hly five feet high by seve n and a half feet wide) , they also co ntain a wea lth of minu te derail tha t is cru cial to t heir content but tha t wou ld effectively be lost if the images were sign ifican tl y reduced in size - which is what happe ns when the y are illust rat ed in books or catalog ues. So for example t he ar t historian Ralp h Ubl ha s based a readin g of the role of "co ntinge ncy" in The D estroyed Room on th e place men t of a cluster of gleaming tac ks in th e wa ll near t he " w indow " at the right of the picture; 12 the racks a re all but indis cernible in rep rod uction but , like t he small pieces of jewe lry on th e carpe ted floo r, at t ract one's gaze when


Jeff Wall, Th e Destroyed Room, 1978 . Tran spare ncy in lighr bo x. , 50 x 234 c m

three beginnings


9 Jeff \Xlall, l'ic ture for \Y/0111eu,1979. Transparency in ligbtbox. 150 x 234 cm

one sta nds before the actual tran sparency. Derai l as such matters less in l'icture for \Y/ome11but the issue of size is even more cruc ial: eve rything depen ds on the viewer's abili ty to respo nd not just intellectually but p unctua lly, in the mo ment of viewing, ro t he int ernal complexi ties of the life-size image as a who le, in part icular ro its carefu lly eng ineered struct ure of reflected gazes - th at of t he young wo man "mo d el" ro t he left; that o f the photogra p her, Wall, operat ing t he sh utter attac hment ro the right ; and chat of t he camera on its tri pod at the exac t cent er of the picture. (As near as one can tell: the mirror in which everyt h ing is reflected is identified with the picture plane; t he actual, not the reflected you ng wo man gazes at a reflect ion o f the camera lens, whi le the actu al, no t the reflected p hotog rap her gazes at a reflection of the young woma n . The actua l camera a lone rakes in the enti re m irrored scene.) Fu rthe rmo re, bo th The Destroyed Room and Picture for \Y/ome11 all ude ro major pa intings in the mode rn French trad ition - the forme r ro Delac ro ix's Destructio11of Sarda11apa/11s, the latter to Manet's Bar at


why photography matters as art as never before

the Folies-Bergere - the reby underscoring both works' specifically pictor ial ambitions as well as their adherence ro an essent ially rableau- like mode o f presentation. 13 (More on Wall's use of pictorial "sources" in Chapters Two and T hree. ) As for Ruff's ear ly co lor head-s hots of students an d others (Figs. ro an d , 1 ), they arc espec ially int erest ing in this con nection beca use they d id nor begin large (t hat is, a ll those made between 1981 and 1986 were 24 x 18 centimeters); only from 1986 d id he dramatically increase their dimensions (ma ny to 210 x I65 centi meters), no do ubr part ly in response to Wall's lightbox p ictures and per haps the work of ot hers as well. 14 Never theless, there is an impor tan t sense-on which I shal l expand in Chapte r Six - in which on the level of "form" they were fro m the first imagined for the wall, by wh ich I mean that by virtue of their fronrali ty (with some profi le views a nd obl ique angles thrown in), repet it ive srructure, and psych ic blankness - also of their colored backgrounds - they implied a part icular mode of relat ion to the viewer, one of mu tual facing, indeed con frontation , tha t some how exceeded, in effect subtly negated, the conventions of the tradi tiona l fronta l


T homas Ruff, Portrait /8. }ii11ger/,1981. Chromoge nic

processprint. 24 x 18 cm

TT Thomas Ruff, Portrait /K. K11e((el},1984. Chromogcnic process print. 2.4 x 18 cm

three beginnings


photograph ic portra it . T heir subsequent increase in sca le therefore seems right, as if only then did rhey assume rhe dimensions and sheer "visual presence" (Valeria Liebermann's phrase) prope r ro rheir idea. 15 Indeed ir was rhen rhat rhe portra its became rigorously frontal and cons istentl y dea dpan . In contrast, Sugimoto's Dioramas or Movie Theaters lose intensity when rhey are printed ar a larger scale, as is sometimes done. (Ler me be clea r: I consider bo rh the Dioramas and Movie Theaters to be early instances of the new art photograp h y, wirhour t heir adhering to the tab leau form as suc h. Sherman's U11titled Film Stills' srarus w irh respect ro t he new art photography featured in this book is a trickier matter, in part because of he r own subsequent development; I find almost all her work after rhe "centerfolds" I 198 1i to be of relative ly little artistic interest.) M ain ly, rhough, I wanr to say somet hing abour Busrama nte's ea rly Tableaux (the designation is his), a series of large color photographs that he made in the outskirts of Barcelona and in various places in Provence between 1978 and 1982 . (Bustamante, born in 1952 in Tou louse to a n Argentine father and a British mother, had worked in Paris as an assistant to the American stree t photogra pher William Klein, a leading figure in the previous generation.) According to Jean-P ier re Criqui, organizer in 1999 of a retrospective exhib ition of Busrama nte's arr, the photogra pher rook the Tableaux wirh a cum bersome 8 x 10-inc h box camera, "whic h, need less to say, ha d to be fixed to a tripod for the me rest shot ." 16 T his was far from standard working procedure for a young photographer at rhar time, but even less so was Bustama nre's decision to print his photographs at the maxim um size then possible . Cr iqui beg ins his introduc tory essay with a brief discussion of an exemplary wor k, Tableau no. r7 ( 1979; Fig. 1 2), which shows, in its foreground, an expanse of trodden earth littered with pebbles and crisscrossed by tire marks . A narrow, dusty road comes to an encl here, hemmed wit h rrees, scrub and some building mater ials - breeze-b locks, stones - waiting for who knows whar. On either side of the strip of earth, two paltry signs announce "Avda de Catalunya ." In rhe distance, hills beneath a lowering sky. In contrast with the anyt hing bu r grandiose characte r of t his scene, the exac tness of t he visua l dara offered by this photograph is notewort hy. This kind of "sharpness" makes the eye waver between afocality and the identificat ion of discrete points, and the roing and froing between these two facto rs presupposes a duration that greatly exceeds any mere ass umption of aware ness . Simply because of the absence of any spectacle and evenr, you have to look for a long time here. T his is how I understand Busramanre's words desc ribing t he Tableaux as "ki nds of slow snaps hots ." [ 163 l A lirtle furt her on, Criq ui rema rks that in the catalogue for a previo us exhi bitio n Tableau 110. 17 is immediately followed by Tabl eau no. 43 (198 1; Fig. 13 ), which makes an arresting contrast wit h its predecessor: T his is a contrast that is sw iftly perceived ra ther in rerms of comp lementarity, for [rhe second of these!, organized around this metal enclosure thar splits the image in rwo (in from, a lick of pa le gravel, like part of a bullring; behind, moved far back beyond this wa ll whic h only lers part of their bodies show, a woman or girl with two children, and a greyish mass of unsightly buildings), forms wirh what goes befo re a sort of diptych in which the entire repertory of motifs explored by the whole series is


why photography

matters as art as never before


Jean-Marc Busta1i1ante, Tableau




Type C and Cibachrome.

ro3 x



summed up. Areas o f wastela n d, per ipheral zones, cons t ructions unfinished o r in the process of being built (or unfinished), roads eng ulfed and faded, dead-ends: everywhere the signs of man, who nevertheless remains aloo f, withdrawn, an d o nly rarely appea rs, blen d ing in with a set tha t he is forever redesign ing. A faint sen se of disaster wafts u p from this paradoxica l comb ination o f invasion and aba ndonmen t. I163 I Cri qui 's observatio n s seem ro me exactly right, as does his recognition that t he "thankless" nature of Bustaman te's motifs is such that the viewer is not invited ro engage with them imagina t ively (the parallel with Ruff's pass po rt-style port raits is ev ident ), as well as his further claim t hat the Tableaux therefore large ly leave it to the viewer to dec ide what ro make of them - witho u t mor e t han a minimum of guidance by the works rhemselves, so to speak. (The t hanklessness of t he motif s is compounded b y what Tar o Amano remarks was Bustamant e's tendency "to take his pho tographs at noon when he wi ll get

three beginnings



Jean-Marc Bustamante, Tableau 110. 43, 1981 . Type C and Cibachromc. 103 x 130c m

no shadows, so t hat no specific portion will stand out, nor one sub ject - be it a t ree or a perso n ." 17) Interestingly, Bustamante himself describes the places in his Tableaux as being "w itho ut q ualit ies," a reference to Robert Musi l's mo numenta l unfinished novel, The Mau without Qualities (1924-42), 18 a text rhat turns our to have su rp rising reson ance for several of the photogra phers discussed in this book . As Criq ui goes on to say: "Bus tamante o ften a lludes to the t ype of re lationshi p he wo uld like to see introd uced b y his wo rk - a no n-direct ive relatio nship, based o n a form o f fruitful indeterm inacy that he calls 'in between' ('eutre-deux '), and which purs the onlooke r in t he positio n of becoming 'e qually respo nsible for t he work '" (r64 - 5 ). In his images, Bustamante exp lai ns, "t he evenr !more broadly, the mot if! is place d at suc h a dista nce, and contained, t hat these imag es move beyon d the context in wh ich the y were made, t he geograp hic sett ing an d so on, and engage the viewer in a one -to-o ne relat ionsh ip so lely th rough t he ir phys ical prese nce" and "My aim is to make rhe viewe r becom e aware of his or her resp onsibili ty in what he or she is looking at. " 19 A crit ical factor in achieving th e p hys ical presence Busra manre sought is of cou rse size: the ea-rly Tableaux a re all 103 x r30 centi m etres, that is, more rhan th ree feet high


why photography

matters as art as never before

by four feet wide, unus ually large for tha t moment, and his later ph otograp hs of cypresses, also called Tableaux, a re even larg er (more on th ose sho rt ly). Another factor, I suggest, is colo r, specifica lly the harshness of the early Tableaux's juxtapositio n s of redd ish ea rt h with green foliage, often in fur t her cont ra st to whi te stu cco unfini shed houses, orange-red ceramic rile roofs, ligh ter colored san dy soi l, a nd fresh ly cast greyish wh ite concre te fou nda tio ns. A third is the sheer density of visua l information contai ned in eac h pri nt , a factor th at far from drawing the viewer "i nto" the wo rk rend s to d istance, in that sense ro "ex clud e," him o r her by virtue of its rnure , unin flecred, un mcrabo lizable chereness . As Ulrich Loock, along with Cri qui o ne of Busramante's most astute co mm entato rs, observes, "The init ial reference o f the photograph co realit y is sec to work in such a manne r char the !d epicte d ] th ings can and must be contemp lated in their silent recessive ness, wit hout consideratio n for their 'mean ing' [signification I. T he beholder is exclude d co rhe extent rhar Bu sra mante's icon ic strategy co nsists in present ing t hings in all their physica lity, as materia l realities, bur , because the gaze is n or allowed to penetra te t he scene, deprived of all (imag inary) bod ily inte ra ctio n wit h them. Th is exclusio n of rhe beholder . .. is one cond ition o f t he appearance of th ings in their intact singularit y."'" (There will be more co say abo ur "excl u sio n " as an artistic st rategy apropos of photographs by T ho mas Dema n d, Candida Hofer, Sugimoro, a nd T ho mas Stru th in Chapter Ni ne. ) A useful contrast might be with any of rhe slightl y older Stephe n Sho re 's su perb color photographs of a wide ran ge of American locales, almost all take n with an 8 x TO-in ch view ca mera between , 973 and , 98 1 and in itially pu blished in t he co111111011 Places in r982 a nd more recent ly in an expanded selectio n (Figs. volume U11 14 and , 5)." Altho ugh Shore's photographs, too, are su ffused wirh visual info rmatio n,

14 Srcphcn Shore, Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Ave11ue, Los A11geles.Califomia,J1111ezr, 1975, 1975. Ch romoge nic

15 Srephcn Shore, Holde11 Street. North Adams, Massachusetts, July 13, 1974, 1974. Chromogcnic process prim.

process print. 50.5 x 6 1 cm

50 .5 x 61 cm

three beginnings


his choice of motifs, refined handling of co lor, canny use of "side lighting," as H illa Becher ca lled it,u and met iculous composing of his images bo rh latera lly and- more ro rhe point of the compa rison - in depth 21 combi ne to produce the opposite of the refusa l of imag inary penetra t ion of the scene Loock associates wit h the Tableaux. "\Xlith Shore," Hilla Becher remarked in a conversa t ion with her husband Bernd and Heinz Liesbrock , "every th ing is rendered very affectio nately, it is genuinely gras ped. For me, his pho t os have so mething chat I see as being an idea l in phorogra phy: that one ac tu ally ent ers into the object, t hat one loo ks at in such a way t ha t afterward one has a genu ine love for it" (27). To w hich Liesbrock added, "As a n author, as a perso n, he becomes absorbed into what he is showing" (28). 14 It is worth no t ing t hat the o riginal pri nt s of the U11com111011 Places images were modes t in size; more broad ly, Shore's photograp hic vision in that series belongs ro a historical mo ment im mediate ly pri o r to t he emergence of the "tableau for m," above all in that Shore's photograp hs were not made for the wa ll, a fact that does not prevent H illa Becher from pra ising them for their "pictorial qua lit y" (27). Fina lly, Bustamante affixed his prints to a flat plate of alumi n um and then framed them wit hout surro undin g mats of any kind. 1 ; To quote Bustamant e once more: "I wa nted not to mak e pho t ographs that would be art , but art t hat wo uld be phoro graphy. I refuse d the small for mat and t he craft aspect of black and whit e. I wan ted ro move int o color, in a form at for the wall, in order to give to t he photograp h rhe dimensions of a tablea u, tu trans fo rm it into an ob ject. " 16 There is ambigui t y in this last sentence. On the one ha nd, the not ion of a tableau asserts t hat Bustamante wished to or ient his work to t he nor ms of pai nt ing. As Criqu i writes: '' Th e powe r of such works as t hese" - N o. 9 ( 1978), No. 68 (1982 )- " resides to a cons iderable degree in t he way they minimize [t he interest o f J the ir referents in orde r to att ract our eye in an ex perience whic h can be calle d picto rial" ( 165). On the other, Busta mant e's emphasis in t he remarks just quoted falls equally on t he notion of an objec t and indee d aspects of rhe object-charac ter of h is images beco me only more palpable as his caree r proceeds. So for example his next series of Tnblenux ( 199 1), compr ising t wem y-rwo large photogra ph s of a cont inu ous curt ain of cypresses situated just above and beyond a low scone wall (the latter inrcn n irten rly stepped upward from left to righ t ), gives rhe pictoria lly inclined eye even fewer pa rt iculars ro dwell on t han the earl ier works : virtuall y the ent ire sur face area of each image is taken up by rhe deep green, close ly planted cypresses, and t he viewe r has to loo k hard ro ascertain that the var ious photog raphs, structurally similar, are in fact subtly different from one anot her - witho ur chose differences having the least meaning in themselves (Figs. r6 and 17) .27 The basic relation of one pictu re ro rhe nexr thus comes close to rhe "one t hing afrer anothe r " st ructure of m inimalism (t he phrase is Dona ld Judd 's, cited by me in "Arr and Objecrhood " [r50J) 28 while the cypress curtain itself nearly eliminates all sense of visual dep t h in a manner t hat harks bac k ro t he non-illus ionistic painting t hat imm ediately prece ded rhe a dvent of minima lism, notably Frank Stella's st ripe paint ings (Bustamante has referred to the cypress photographs as " prac t ically monoc hro me" 29 ) . In the cyp ress ser ies, in sho rt , the distancing and "excl usion " of the viewer reac h an apogee in his early


why photography matters as art as never before

16 Jean-Marc Bustamante, Tableau Cibachrome. 1 50 x 120 cm




17 Jean-Marc Bustamante, Tableau Cibachrome. 1 50 x 1 2.0 cm



1991 .

wor k, without how ever the ph o tograp hs raking the fur ther step th at wo u ld fully identify th em wit h min imali st o bject hood , w hat ever tha t wou ld mean in this cont ext.Jo Similarl y, Busrama nre's d esire to mak e the viewer "e qua lly responsi b le for the wo rk " or, as he also says, to ma ke p icture s that woul d " engage t he viewer in a o ne-to-o ne relationship solely thro ugh rheir physica l p resence," wh ile comi ng close to minimalism's insistence that th e view er's experience is the wo rk (mo re on t his in Ch ap ter N ine), neverth eless stops well s ho rt of that insistence; simply put , his notion of " physica l presence" a ppea rs to have mor e in common w ith painti ngs b y C lyffo rd St ill, Barnett Ne wma n, a nd Stella tha n wit h minim a lism itself." Wit ho ut so much as g la ncing here at Busta manr e's sub sequ ent career, I thi nk it is fair to say that min ima lism has remai ned a bas ic po le in his t hinkin g bur thar his wo rk in a vari ety of med ia has consistentl y refused the minimalist op tio n in order to pursue a rang e of bro ad ly p hotog ra phi c aims.31 II am especiall y glad to in sist on Bustama nre's impo rtan ce beca use, of a ll t he photograp hers t reat ed in this boo k, I am least a ble to d o him justice, for the simple reaso n that I have seen on ly a limited sampl e of his oeuvre. N evert heless, I rega rd his Tableaux as o ne of t he most ori g inal and imp ressive p hoto graphi c ach ievement s in rece nt deca d es.)

three beginnings


Othe r pho tograp he rs too 111ighthave bee n cited in connectio n with th e e111 erge nce of th e n ew ap proach .33 Ho wever, the exa111plesof Wall, Ruff, and Busta111ant e show beyo nd all question that the pe rt inent develop111ents ca111eabout as if of the ir own acco rd , rath er than as t he ou tco 111 e of a shared background, com m on educa tion, or uniform set of art istic influences. Of course, all thr ee ph otograp he rs were awa re of certain maj or develop111en ts in the a rt world during the p revious ten or fifteen years, includ ing t he rise of mini111alis111,conceptua lis111 , and a ffiliated 111oveme nt s. Throughout thi s book 111in imalism in partic ular will be a constant term of reference for my observatio ns.

My thi rd beginni ng wi ll mos tly be a consideratio n of t hree exemp lary tex ts: an anonymo us French conte or tale of just over two tho u sand words, Adelaide, ou la femme morte d'amour, wh ich a ppeared in the m ont hl y journal Mercure de France in Janua ry 175 5; Yukio Mish im a's The Temple of Dawn, orig ina lly published in r970 {the English tr ans latio n came out fo ur yea rs later); a nd Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others, published in 2003, a seque l of sorts to her On Photography of 1977. This seems {and is) an odd selec tion , bur it has t he virtue of engag ing wi t h a set of issues th at will be bas ic to m y a rgument in the chap ters t hat fo llow. I first ca111eacross Adelaide, ou la femme morte d'amour (th e wo 111 an who died from love) in the 1970s, in t he course of pursu in g the library research for Absorption and Theatricality. In fact T t houg ht abo ut using it in that book, but quickly saw that it would int roduce a level of com p licatio n that rea ders might find confusing. So I dec ided to set it as ide un t il so111efuture date, which has now arrived, when it wo uld mak e strategic sense to bring it into play. "Th is adve nture cook place in 1678," the first sentence reads, "and will p erha ps app ear incredible in 1755 . Seventy-seven years have brough t about suc h changes in our m oeurs, that conjugal love , w hich then was respected, has today become ridicu lo us; it eve n passes for a chi111era, no one believes in it a ny more. Howev er, the story of Ade la.ide is accom pani ed b y such natural circu111sta nces, it bea rs a character of truthfu lness so striking and so na"ive that it must persuade th e 111 ost incredulous intelligenc e, as surp r ising as it is. T he reader wi ll jud ge: here it is." 14 The plot is si111ple: t he wea lth y Marq ui se de Fe rval, widow of a 111anof qualit y and ret ired to t he counr ryside to raise her famil y, decides co take a beaurifu l a nd virtuous orphan, Adela "id e, into her house hold as a co m panion for her sixtee n-year -old daughte r. Also in the fami ly is a so n ; the inevitable happe n s and h e declares his love to Adela"ide, going so far as co speak of marriage; she, h owever, recognizes that the dispari ty in the ir fo rt unes makes any futur e for the m inco n ceivable a nd does her best ro avoid hi 111.Nevert heless , the ir feeli ngs cannot be concea led, and th e Marquise o n e day teases her so n abo ut them. He is about to tell her the rrut h when she, realizing what is happening, preve nt s hi111fro111saying any th ing mo re by abso lute ly refusi ng to consider Adela"ide in th at light. She goes further: France is a t war, th e Marq ui s is a musketeer, and s he gives him ju st one day to leave for the ca 111 pa ign . He goes, bu t not b efore i111ploring Adela"ide to re111aintru e to him .


why photog raphy matters as art as never before

D uring his ab sence a neighb or falls in love wit h Adela"ide and decla res his intentio ns to the Marquise, who welcomes t he opp o rt un ity to pu t her son out of dan ger. The youn g Ferval learn s of rhe plan, returns by post, and throws himself at his mother's feer. She refuses his pleas, bur t he trouble at home reaches the ear of the neighbor, who breaks off the marriage arrangeme nts. This infu r iates the Ma rquise, who expels Adela"ide from her house , in effect d isgrac ing her. Th e Ma rquis mar ries Adela"ide and is at once disinherited; a boy is bo rn an d broug ht to the Ma rquise but she remains inexora ble, and ro make matte rs even more tragic the infant dies. The lovers live three or four yea rs virtually abando ned by the world, bare ly making do, until it becomes necessary for them to separate. Adela 'ide enters a co nvent and the Mar quis goes to Paris to join an austere religious order . Yet forrune was not done persecuting Adela 'ide. Some of the wo men in her co nvent learn her history and ca bal aga inst her so cleve rly t hat she is oblig ed to leave. One of the older religieitses, touched by her state, gives her lett ers of reco mmendat ion to t he religieuse's fathe r in Pari s, a high official who undertakes to seek anothe r retr eat where Adelai'de can spend the remainder of her life. Ho wever, w hile she is wait ing for such a retre at to be found, she sends a message t o the M arqu is annou ncing her arr ival, and asking to speak to him. "The new disgrace that had co me t o Adela"ide is painfu l for him. He conti nues to love her, he fears t he interview rhat she wishes, and asks her to spare him an enco unte r [une vue ] which can be only har mfu l to the repose of each of t hem . Adela'ide, altho ugh dera che d from t he wor ld, is no t detached eno ugh from a hu sband whom she so loved; his refusa l only increases her desire t o see him" (57). Th ere follows the paragrap h that l rak e to be the raison d'etre of t he rale (and one more, bringing the tale to a close): She goes t o the Monas tery, enters t he Church, and the first object that st rikes her is the Marquis her husba nd, occupied in a pio us exerc ise with all his Communi t y. His penitential ha bit tou ches her; she shows herself, he sees her, he lowers his eyes, and no matt er what effort she mak es to at t ract his gaze, he doesn' t so muc h as glance at her. Althou gh she unders tand s the motive behind the vio lence of his act , she finds in it so mething so crue l, tha t she is seized wit h the most ext reme pain . She falls unco nscious; someo ne suppo rt s her, she recovers only to ask for her dear Ferval. Someone runs to tell him t hat his wife is dy ing. H is Sup erior orders him to go an d co nsole her; and she d ies from the force of her seizure, before he reaches her.35 [57-8 J The Marquis wee ps, t hen falls into a profou nd reverie. Finally he return s to his monaste ry, where by the practic e of auste r ities " he tries to make up for his passion, alt hough legit imate, having had in it som ething too vio lent" (58) . O n the face of it, Adelaide is an undistinguished specimen of the sentimenral contes moraux that att racted an enrhu siastic readership amo ng the edu cated classes in France in the 17 50s and 1760s (Marmontel's "novel" Be/isaire f1767J, barely readable today, is the classic of t he genre) . Considered as ficti on, suc h tales are o f scanr interes t ; nothing could be more differe nt from Adelaide, for examp le, than th e brilliant contes D iderot was soon to wri te - Deux amis de Barbonne, Mme Carlier, Ceci n 'est pas u11 conte . The

three beg innings


co11tesmoraux' s interes t , I suggest, resides elsewhere: in their pictoria lism, whi ch is ro say in their tendency to evoke literary "p ictur es" which themselves are mosr intere stingly seen in the con text of the pictor ial issues of the rime. ' 6 In th e case of Adelaide, rhe " pictur es" in qu estio n are those "pa inted " from Adela'ide's po int of view in rhe climact ic paragraph just quo ted . I am inte rested mainly in the first and seco nd " pict ures" - the Marqui s in mo nk's raime nt absorbed (th e French is occupe) in a religious exerc ise along wit h all his commu nit y; an d the n, afte r Adela.ide ha s shown herse lf to him (we are nor rold how), t he "pic tur e" of him refusing to look up despi te her efforts ro attract his arrenrio n. Th e qu estion is how to visua lize the secon d " pict ur e," and my thought is rhar although rhe tale do es nor spell rhis our, we are invited to ima gine the Ma rq uis seemingly absorbed once more in his "pi ou s exercis e" along with ot her members of his community , with trag ic conseque nces that need no retelling. Moreove r, alt houg h the ta le as much as states that Adela"ide dies beca use of her hu sband's (if no t just ified, ar least und ersta ndab le) "c ru elty" toward her, we are, I want ro sugges t , furt her invited to int uit rhar - from what might be ca lled a srruc rural or the ore tica l rathe r than a stric tly narrative point of view - the cause of her co llapse an d deat h is a pa rt icular cr isis of representation conce rni ng the rwo " pict ures" just glance d at. H ere some back gro un d is needed. The backg round T have in mind is the central argu ment of my ea rlier books on eighteenth- and nineteent h-century Frenc h pai nt ing. Briefly, starrin g in the mid-r 75os in France a new con ceptio n of painti ng came to the fore tha t requ ired that the perso nages dep icted in a canvas appea r genuinely absorbed in w hatever they were doing, thinking, and feeling, which also meant that t hey ha d to appear who lly unaware of everything other than the object s of t heir absorption , inclu ding - this was the crnc ia l point - t he beholder standi ng before t he paintin g. Any failur e of absorpt ion - any suggestio n tha t a paint ed personage wa s act ing for an audie nce - was co nsidered thea t rical in the pejorati ve sense of the term and was regarded as an egreg ious fault . By th e same to ken, rhe de mand that paint ing defeat t heatricali t y - that it establish what l have called the su preme fict ion or ontologi ca l illusion rhar the behol der did not exist, t hat there was no one standi ng before t he canvas - placed the art of pain ti ng under tremendous pressure for rhe sim ple reaso n that paint ings, more intensively a nd as it were primord ially tha n any oth er class o f art ifacts, are mad e to be behe ld. What this was to mean historically is t hat, t hrough out the century t hat followed, one or another "so lution " to the new requirements cam e so one r or late r to revea l its inadequacy, as the un derlying tru t h about pa inting - that it had the behol der in view from the first - could no longer be denied . (For an accou nt of some of those develop ments see my Courbet's Realism and Manet's M odernism, or, Th e Face of Painting i11the 1860s .) As regard s pai ntin g alone, the new conc eption was at least potentia lly in place in Chardin's genre pa int ings of the 1730s . H owever, it was nor un til Didero t 's wri tin gs on dra ma and pain t ing of t he late 1750s and '6os th at the double st ress on a bso rpt ion and antitheatricaliry received its full art icula t ion , alo ng with a new theo rizatio n of the tableau (itali cized ro mark its use as a period conc ept ) as rhe instru ment of bot h, that is, a deliberate cons tru ct ion dir ected towa rd the beholder w ithin which the individual personages appear ed not just abso rbed in what eac h was doing bur also collectively absor bed in t he overa ll dramat ic act ion


why pho tography matters as art as never before

represented by the co nstru ction as a whole. (Obv iously the Diderotian tabl eau ha s a different valence from Busramante's use of the term , thoug h both imply some thin g stro nger, more claim ing of autonomy, than t he English "pic tur e"; I sha ll say more about Chevr ier's notion of rhe "tab leau form" in Chapt er Six.) ln a certa in sense, we as readers are ent itled to think of the enti re paragraph quoted ea rlier as a success ion of tableaux in Did erot 's sense of the term , desp ite the fact that the notio n is first developed in his Conversations on the Natural Son and Discourse on Dramatic Poetry of T7 57 and '5 8 respectively (rhar is, a few years afte r the pu blicatio n of Adelaide). By this I mean that everythin g t he reade r is given to visual ize, includin g Adela.id e's act ions, co llapse, and death (with on e or more persons bending over her?) and the gr ief-stricken Marq uis's falling int o a profound rever ie, is inten sely absorptive, just as the settin g itself, a mon ast ic chur ch interio r, perfectly ex presses th e theme of separat ion from the wo rld of rhe rea der/beho lder. Yet if we co nsider only t he two tableaux seen by Adela"ide, something else co mes into focus: the intim ation - I wo uld like to say rhe "fact," but of course I am extrapolating rather freely from a t heoretically ret icen t text - rhar from Adela"id e's poi nt of view no difference can be discerned between the outward behavior of the Ma rquis whe n he is trul y a bsorbed in his religious observ ances and when, after Adela.ide ha s shown herself to him, he has return ed with lowered eyes to those obse rvances bur is now acutely aware th at his wife has her eyes fixed on him . The abse nce of visible differe nce is what I meant by a crisis of repr esentat ion - thou gh furthe r explanat ion is again called for. I say thi s because from the perspective of Diderot's writ ings on drama , what l have ca lled a crisis is bound to seem illusory : what matter s in his accou nt is not rhat the actor s in a play actua lly be unaware of the presence of the audience - he later arg ued in the Paradox on the Actor that acto rs should not be so deeply identifie d wit h th eir ro les as to lose t hemse lves in the m - but rather t hat t hey deploy all the co nscious sk ills at their co mm and in order to creat e successfu lly th e dramati c stage tableaux that w ill secure the overa rching illusion that th e aud ience has nor been taken into account. Howeve r, what my readin g of t he clim ax of Adelaid e suggests is tha t as early as 17 5 5 - significan tly, t he year wh en Jean-Bap t iste Gre uze's Father of the family Readi11gthe Bible was shown at the Salon, ma rking the official deb ut of the leading French pain ter of his genera t ion an d a key figur e in t he first stages o f the a ntitheatrica l dialectic the n getting un der way - t here was ab road at least a hint of bad co nscience or more prec isely ontologica l uneasin ess abou t the "fa lseness" that t he very stru cture of the tableau could be felt to imply, a "falseness" that it was beyond the power of either paint ing or dra ma to themarize, but that fiction - a part icular genre of fictio n, t he pictorial isr conte m oral - could give expression to in its own characteristically sent imental or (the ano nymo us aurhor's term ) "na"ive" way. Adela.ide dies , in this reading, because the absence of outwa rd difference mentioned above is int o lera ble ro her. This is of course to attach a grear deal of significa nce ro an exceedingly slight literary work, bur before leaving Adelaide I wa nt ro go one step furt her and propose that the issue of " trut hfulness" versus "fa lseness" in t his conn ection alrea dy looks beyond stage drama , with respect to w hich it is essent ially a matter of techn ique, and beyond painti ng, with respect to whic h it makes no sense to ask wha t a personage in a ca nvas is "act ually"

three beg inn,ngs


or "truly" doin g, th inking, or feeling, tow a rd the mechanical reprodu ctio n of reality in ph orography, with respect to w hich such que st ions are inescapab le. (Or with respect to which such q uestions have been inescapable; 1 am thinkin g of the adve nt of digitization, the co nseq u ences of wh ich for pho rogr aphic practice an d theor y ha ve yet to become fu lly clear. 37) Th e second text 1 want ro cons ider, Mishima's The Temple of Dawn , belongs to the a uth o r 's late tetra logy, Th e Sea of Fertility, publi shed in J ap an between r968 and '7 1. By the latter date Mis hima was dead, ha ving led t he abo rt ive "u pr ising" that ende d as plan ned wit h his commi tt ing seppu ku im mediately upo n comple t ing th e fin a l volume in Nove m ber 1 9 70. l want ro focus on severa l passages, all of which co ncern the not ion of voyeurism, which l shall go on ro sugges t ma y a lso be though t of as an essentiall y photographic trop e. First, thoug h, I shoul d note th at rhe Diderorian ideal of the "fo rgo tten ," in tha t sen se functiona lly abse nt , beho lder has somet imes been glossed in terms of voye urism, but that has a lways seemed to me wrong. A voyeur of a scene is by definition p resent bu t hidden: fro m a place of secur ity, often of dark ness, he or she sp ies on the scene, which typica lly is ero t ic in natu re, as in a c ruc ial episode in Mishima's earl ier novel, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. 38 It is of course nor impossi ble for rhe a rr of paint ing ro convey rhe impr ession rhar a depicted scene has been represented from the point of view of a voyeu r, bur ro do so requires particular means (there are sma ll Fragonards of eroti c su bjects rha r seem as if witn essed th roug h a key hole or from inside a s ligh tly ope n closer), and is nor at all what Diderot had in m ind in his writings on dr ama a nd pai nt ing. Nor for rha t matte r d o voyeu rist ic points of view play a role in the evol ut ion of eightee nth- a nd n ineteent h-centur y pa inting in France ; not hing co uld be less vo yeur is tic , for example, than t he viewe r's implied relation ro David's Oath of the Horatii, Ger icau lr's Raft of the Medusa, Co urb et's Burial at Ornans , or indeed M anet's Olympia (a rguab ly rhe least voyeu rist ic n ude eve r painted). In Mis hima's nove l, rhen, t he fifty-seven -yea r-old protagonist, Shigek uni Ho nda, has placed a peep hole in th e back of a bookcase through which he plans to spy on a guest in his hous e, the beaut iful Thai princess Ying Chan, as she di sro bes in her bedro om . Honda , we read, "had never crave d for any momen t so much as th is. ... [He ] was going to see Ying Cha n in a sta te that as yet had been see n by no one. This was what he wanted more th an anythi ng else in the wo rld . By his act of watc hing, rhis unseen con dit ion was already destroyed . Being seen by a bso lutely no on e an d being u nawa re of being seen were similar, yet bas ica lly d ifferent." 39 (Th e flow of sentences, especially the transi t ion between "This wa s what he wante d .. . " and " By h is ac t o f watchi ng ... , " sho uld bring us up short: th ere seems ro be an importa nt " But" or " However" tha t t he novelist has deliberate ly om itt ed, perhaps by way of suggest ing rh e destru ctiveness o f H on da's inmos t impul ses.) La ter in the novel we are ro ld: " It was certain t hat the Ying Chan one saw was not a ll t here was . For Honda, longing for the Yin g Chan he cou ld not see, love de pended on the unknown; an d naturally per cep t ion was related to the known. If he drove his percept ions on and wit h the m plunde red th e unk nown, t hereby inc reasing the area of t he known, coul d his love be achieved? N o , it wo uld not work rhat way, because his love st rove ro keep Ying Chan as far aw ay as poss ib le from rhe ralons of his perceptio n " (276). Thi s leads ro the followin g:


why photography matters as art as never before

Therefore his desire to see Ying C han in the nud e, a Ying C han un known to a nyone, became an unatt ainable desire divided con tradicto rily into perceptio n and love. Seeing alrea dy lay within the sphere of pe rcept ion , and even if Ying C han was no r aware of ir, from t he moment he had peepe d th rou gh t he luminou s hole in the back of t he bookcase, she had become an inh abitant of a wo rld crea ted by her fsic: the sense of the sentence dictates t he pronoun " his" .I percep t ion. In her wo rld, contam inate d by his t he moment he laid eyes on it, w hat he rea lly wanted to see wo uld neve r appear. H is love could not be fulfilled . And yet, if he did not see, love wo uld forever be precluded . . . . fHonda's perception it self therefore] became a screen and was defect ive, an infinitesimal obsr rn crion. Then how would ir be if he go r rid of rhe obst ruct ion and cha nged rhe situ at ion? That wo uld mean t he removal of H onda from the wo rld wh ich he shared wit h Ying C han, in ot her words, his own deat h. It now beca me clear that Honda's ulrima re desire, what he really, real ly wanted to see co uld exist on ly in a world where he did not. In order to see what he tru ly wishe d to, he must die. Whe n a voyeur recognizes that he can rea lize his ends only by eliminating rhe bas ic acr of wa tch ing, this means his dea t h as suc h. [276 - 7] One way of cha racterizi ng Honda's pr edicam ent is as a radicaliz ing or meraphys icalizing of voyeurism, if nor of ant ithearrica liry as such; the cruc ial stat eme nt , from which everyt hing else follows, is: "Being seen by ab solut ely no on e and being unaware of being seen were similar, yet basically diff erent" - rhe word "bas ically" here car r ying onto logical weight . In Adelaide, ar rhe o utset of rhe pictorial evolu t ion that led t o modernism, being tru ly absor bed, t here fore truly unaware of bei ng seen, and (merely) ap pear ing to be thus absorbed and unaw are of being seen a lso prove d "simila r, yet basically diff erent" (if my reading is believed). However, t he diffe rence in t he ea rlier case lay precise ly in the beheld sub ject 's consciousness, which the reader is exp licirly told is not the dec isive factor in the late r one - t he Pr incess will not be aware of being beheld and yet everything w ill have been changed . The shi ft of empha sis between t he t wo tex ts, wr itt en more than two hund red years apart, might be charact erized by sayi ng that in Mishima's novel the situatio n with regard to beho lding has becom e muc h more dire : simply by virt ue of being beheld the Prin cess's "world" (a fascinating not ion in t his context) w ill be fundamenta lly altered - Mis hima says co ntamin ated . Put slig hrly diff erenrly, whereas in Adelaide t he sour ce of mortal di fficu lty is the possibility that being abso rbed and pretending to be abso rbed (or represe nting being absor bed ) ca n be indistinguis hable from each other, in The Temple of Dawn the source of difficult y is beholding it self, and the only solution the tex t im agines is the preemp t ion of beholding through the deat h of the voyeur. My furt her suggestion, in t he sa me vein as my con cludin g remarks ab o ut Adelaide, is that H onda's reflections ma y be read almost as if t heir u lt imate po int of reference were not the figure of the voyeur so much as that of the photogra ph er, wh ose relat ion to his o r her subjec ts has frequently been described in terms of voyeurism and on e of whose tradi t ional a pproach es, in the int erest of t rut h of ex pr ession, has been to depict perso ns who for one reaso n or anot her are unawa re of being photograp hed, often because they are absor bed in wha teve r they are doing, thinking, or feeling. 40 As Susa n

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Sontag puts it in a sta tement l shall return ro more rhan once, "Th ere is some t hing on people's faces when they do n't know they are being obse rved that never ap pears when they do. " 41 It is also tru e, however, that att itudes wit hin pho tography toward that approach have shifted ove r the course of time (Sontag herself cites Brassai"'s " [denu nciat ions ofj pho tograp hers who try to t rap their subjects off-guard, in rhe erroneous belief t hat something special will be reveale d abou t the m " 42 ), and I thin k it is fair to say char by t he end of the 1970s - Sontag's views notwit hstanding - t here took place a widespread reaction against all such practices, a reac t ion em blemat ized by the crisis of confidence that seems ro have overtake n the brilliant Amer ican st reet pho tographe r Gar ry Winogrand in the years shortly before his deat h in 1984 (Winogrand in t he !are 1970s rook t housands of photograp hs rhat he never bothere d ro develop, and seems to have been on the verge of giving up street photography entirely 43 ), as well as by some passages in Roland Barrhes's Camera Lucida (1980), to be discusse d in dera il in Chap ter Four of t his boo k. In ot her words, l propose rhar t here exists an affinity between rhe problemarizing of beholding in rhe cont ext of voyeurism in The Temple of Dawn and certai n deve lopmen ts in photog rap hy and the t heory of photography in rhe 1970s and early J 980s . Indeed I want to go beyond t hese considerations, which remain in rhe realm of the sub ject 's, and by implicat ion t he artist's, puta t ive psychology and suggest that rhere ex ists a more profou nd affinit y between rhe metap hysica l or ontological register in whic h Mish ima's problemat ic of seeing and being seen is cast and some, tho ugh by no means all, of rhe photographic work to be discussed in rhis book : as if what ult imate ly is at stake in rhar work is prec isely the depiction or evocat ion of a separatio n of worlds (" It now became clear that Honda's ultimate des ire, what he really, really wanted to sec could ex ist on ly in a worl d where he did nor"). Mo re precisely, ir is as if some such depic t ion or evocation tu rns ou t to lend itself especia lly well ro rhe construction of rhe new relationship betwee n photograph and beho lder that in my account - also, ar least up ro a po int, in Chevrier's - is at the hea rt of rhe "tab leau form." (The theme of "exclusion" in the strongest com mentaries on Bustamante is a respo nse ro this state of affairs .} Let me add that I shall return to Mishima's retralogy twice more in this boo k, once in relat ion ro Sugimoro's Seascapes and once, more importantly, t owa rd the end of t he Conclusion, in connect ion wirh a recent work by Jeff Wall t hat illustra tes a part icular episode in the first novel in rhe rerralogy, Spring Snow. Finally, I wa nt to glance ar certain passages in Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others, a book -length essay in which she reconsiders some of the t hemes in On Photography of almost thirty years before. In particula r she reflects in her new book on the efficacy - even, at times, the legitimacy - of images of pa in, violence, suffe r ing, and death as a means of promoti ng po lit ical aware ness, given the countless respect s in which such images lend themselves ro ot her purposes as well, are pro ne ro becom ing overfamil iar, hence polit ically ineffect ive, or risk appeali ng, by the ir very cont ent, ro pruri ent interests on the part of the viewer . So for exam ple she writes: Tra nsforming is what arr does, but photography t hat bears witness to the calam itous and the reprehe nsible is much criticized if ir seems "aesthetic"; that is, too much like art. The dua l powers of photography - to genera re documents and to crea te works of


why pho tograp hy matters as art as never before

visual art - have produced some remarka ble exaggerations abou t what photographers ough t or ough t not to do . Lately, rhe most co mm on exaggerat ion is one that regar ds these powers as opposites. Photographs that dep ict suffer ing shouldn' t be beautiful, as captio ns shouldn't moral ize. In thi s view, a beautiful photogra ph dra ins att ent ion from rhe sobe rin g subject and turns it towa rd the med ium itself, the reby co mp romising the pict ur e's sta tu s as a docum ent . The photograp h gives mi xed signals . Stop this, it urges . Bur it also ex claims, What a spectacle! 44 And: Ir used to be tho ught , when rhe candid images were nor co mm on, that show ing some t hing t hat needed to be seen, bringing a painf ul rea lity closer, was bound to goa d viewers to feel more. In a world in wh ich photography is brilliant ly at the service of cosu merist manip ulat ions, no effect of a photograp h of a dole ful scene ca n be taken for gra nted . As a conseque nce, mora lly alerr ph otogra phers a nd ideologues of photogr aph y have become increasingly concerned with the issues of explo itation of senti ment (pity, compassion, indigna t ion) in war pho tograp hy and in ro te ways of provoki ng feeling. (79-80 J O f an ex hibitio n in 2000 of "a trove of ph otogra ph s of black victims of lync hing in small tow ns in the United States between the 1890s and t he 1930s, which provided a shattering, revelato ry experience for the thousan ds who saw t hem in a ga llery in New York in 2000," Sontag rehearses a series of questions t hat were raise d at t he time of the exh ibitio n and when a boo k of rhe photograp hs, Without Sanctuary, was pub lished: "W hat is the po int of ex hib iting these pictur es? To awaken indignatio n ? To mak e us feel 'bad'; that is, to appall and sa dd en? To help us mourn? Is loo king at such pictur es really necessary, given rhar these horro rs lie in a pas t remote enough to be beyond punishment? Are we the bett er for seeing these images? Do they act ua lly reach us anything? Don't they rat her just confirm wha t we alread y kn ow (or want to kn ow)?" (91-2) . Alt hough one senses rha r Sontag does nor share the negative attitude towa rd rhe exhibition and book rhar rhe ques tions imply, she does no t quite co me out and say so, presumab ly because she also feels t he quest ions' mo re t ha n just rhetorical force . Simi lar ly, al though in th e first passage quoted above she appar ently distan ces herself from the "exaggerat ion" rha r would draw a shar p distinction between a photograph's dep iction of suffering and its "aest het ic" q uality, she also wr ites towa rd rhe end of her book: So far as pho tographs with rhe most sole mn or heartre nd ing subject matter are art and rhis is what they become whe n t hey ha ng on walls, whateve r rhe disclaimers rhey pa rtake of the fate of all wall- hung or floor-suppo rt ed arr displayed in publ ic spaces. T har is, they are stat ions alo ng a - usually accom panie d - st roll. .. . Up ro a po int, rhe weight and ser iousness of suc h photograp hs survive berrer in a book, where one can look privat ely, linger ove r rhe pictures, wit hout talking. Still, at some mome nt rhe book w ill be closed . The strong emotion will become a t ransient one. Event ually, the specifici ty of rhe photographs' accusat ions will fade; t he denunciat ion of a particular conflic t and at t ribut ion of spec ific cr imes will become a de nu ncia tion of human

three beginnings


cruelty, hu man sav agery as suc h. The p hotogra ph er's inrent ion s are irrelevanr to this larger pr ocess . I 121 - 2] At o ne point Sont ag d oes state uneq uivocally: There now exis ts a vast repo s ito ry of images that mak e it harde r to ma intain this kind of mo ral d efective ness [Son tag has in min d someone who remains pere n nially surpri sed th at de pravit y exists, tha r hu man beings are capable of great cruelt y to ward one anot her, ere .]. Let t he atro cio us images haunt us. Even if t hey are only tok ens, a nd can n ot possib ly encompass most o f th e reali t y ro which they refer, rhey still perfo rm a viral function . T he images say: T his is wha t hum an bei ngs are capable of doi ng- 111ayvo lunteer to do, enthusias tica lly, self-righteo usly. Do n 't forge r. [114- 15] Howeve r, these sorts of assertions are few an d far betwee n; one of the stri kin g things about Regarding the Pain of Others (fo r all its lack of a vecto red arg ument, a typical feature of Son tag's wri ting) is its reluctance to take up a sim ple or co nsistent stance towar d the diffic ult q uestions it contin u ally raises. l find it all the more un expected, then, that in her book's final pages Sonrag sing les our o ne "an t iwar" imag e, Jeff Wall's

Dead Troops Talk {A Vision After an Ambush of a Red Army Patrol near Moqor, Afgha nistan, Winter 1986 (1992 ; Fig. r8), as be ing "exe mplar y in its tho ughtf uln ess and p owe r." She expla ins tha t t he pict ur e, "a Cibac h rome tr ansparency seven and a ha lf feet high an d more rhan th irtee n feet w ide an d mo unted on a ligh t box, shows figu res posed in a landscape , a blasted hillside, that was co nstru cted in t he pa inrer's stu dio" ( , 23 ).'' H er con clud ing paragraphs read: Th e figur es in Wall 's visiona ry photo-work are "rea list ic" but, of co ur se, th e image is nor . Dead sold iers don't ta lk. H ere they d o. Thir teen Ru ssian soldiers in bu lky w int er unifor ms an d high boo t s are scattered abo u t a pock ed , b lood -splashed slope lined wit h loos e roc ks an d the litter of war: shell cas ings, cru m pled metal, a boot tha t ho lds the lower part of a leg ... A few still have rheir helmets on. The head of o ne kn eeling figure, talk ing animated ly, foams w ith his red brai n matter. The a tm os p here is warm, co n vivial, fra te rn al. Some slouc h, leani ng on an elbow, or sit, cha tti ng, th eir o p ened sk ulls and des tro yed han ds on view. One man bends over another who lies on his side as if as leep, perh aps encouragi ng hi111to sir up. T hr ee men are h ors ing around: o ne wirh a huge wound in his belly straddl es ano th er, lying prone, who is laughi ng at a third ma n , on his k nees, who pla yfull y dang les befor e him a st rip of flesh. O n e soldier, helmeted, legless, has rurned ro a co mrad e so me d istance away, an alert smile on his face . Below him ar e two who don't see m q ui te up to the resurrect io n and lie supi ne, their b loodied head s hanging down rhe ston y incline. Engulfed by the i111 age, w hich is so accusato ry, w e could fanta s ize thar rhe so ldiers 111i g hr turn and talk to us. But n o, no one is looking o ut of rhe picture . T here's no th reat of pro test. They are no t abo ut to yell ar us to bri ng a halt to tha t abo min at ion whic h is war . Th ey ha ven 't co me bac k to life in or der to stagger off to denoun ce the war-ma kers w h o sent them to kill and be killed. An d the y are not rep resente d as rer-


why photography matters as art as never before

18 Jeff Wall, Dead Troo/1sTalk (A Vision After a11Amb ush of a Red Army Patrol near Moqor, A(gha11ista11, Wi11ter1986), 1992.. Transparency in lightbox .


x 417 cm

rifying to o t hers, for among them (far left) s irs a whi te-garbe d Afghan scavenger, entirely abso rbed in go ing through so meo ne's kit bag, of whom they take no note, and entering the pic ture above t hem (top righ t) o n the path windi ng down the slope are two Afghans, perhaps soldiers the mse lves, who, it wo u ld seem from the Kalashnikovs collected near the ir feet, have a lread y str ipped the dea d sold iers of their weapo n s. These dead arc supremely uninterested in t he living : in t hose who rook their lives; in w itnesses - a nd in us. Wh y shou ld they seek our gaze? W hat wo uld t hey have ro say ro us? "We" - th is "we" is everyone who has never experie nced any t hing like what they went throug h - don't understan d . We don' t get it. We tru ly ca n't imagi n e what it was like. We can' t imagine how d readful, how terrify ing war is; an d how norma l it beco mes. Can' t unders tan d , can' t imagi ne. Tha t 's what every so ldie r, and every journa list an d aid worker an d ind ependent observe r w ho has pu t in t ime under fire, and had rhe luck ro elud e the death that st ruck down others nea rby, stubbornl y feels. And the y are right. I 124-6 1 Sontag's respon se to Wall's monumenta l pho tograph is framed in terms of her cen tral concern wit h images of vio lence an d their efficacy or lac k of it as a means of conveying rhe horro r o f modern war; rhe exem p lariness of Dead Troops Talk in her eyes co n -

three begmmngs


sists in its ability co do just rhis. What I want to ca ll artenr ion ro is rhat for Sontag rhe dec isive feature of Wall's phocograp h is not so muc h the brilliant interplay among rhe slau ghtere d Russian soldier s, as gr ippin g as she finds it, bur rhe facr thar, as she puts ir, " no one is looking out of the picture." For Sontag, of course, whar makes rhar facr mea ningfu l is thar it is pa rt of a large r recognir ion she arrribures co rhe dead Russians ro rhe effecr rhar rhere is no point in rheir address ing the viewer - in add ressing "us" for rhe ir refutable reaso n thar, nor having actually experienced the horror s of war, "we" are incapa ble o f under stan ding or ima gin ing wh ar they have jusr gone rhroug h. This is a perfectly plausible way of thi nking abour whar rakes place in Dead Troops Talk. Howe ver, rhe fact t har none of rhe soldiers is loo king our of t he picture also means rhar Wall's picrure is consistent wirh rhe crucial princip le of rhe Diderorian tableau - the use of absorptive mot ifs and st ru ct ures to estab lish th e ontological illusion rhat rhe beholder does not ex isr. Sontag doe s not exp licitly invoke the no rion of abs orprion in her descriprion of rhe Russians, but she does rema rk on the "w hite-garbed Afghan scavenger [who is] entire ly absorbed in going thro ugh somebo dy's kir bag [and] of whom rhey rake no nore." In facr iris as if Wa ll's pictur e as seen by her rep resents two dist inct "worl ds," that of the dead but risen Russians and that of the living Afghans, which occupy the same pictor ial space but are some how invisib le to one anothe r even as they are both separa te from , though not invisib le to , o ur own. Th ere is a further co mplexity here. As has emerged, no t hing was mo re inimical to rhe oper at ions of the Diderotian tableau than rhe least hint of " pr etense" or "posi ng" on the parr of rhe figures it co mpri sed - indeed, Did erot saw the use of professio nal models, whose job it was to hold var ious more or less co nventional poses, as a source of the dreadfu l mann erism of much of the paint ing of his t ime. (Yet what was an ambitious histo ry painter to do? Say he wante d to rep resent a pe rsonage from Gree k or Roman antiq uit y swearing a morta l oath or consume d with gr ief or dying from poison or engaged in some violent mo mentary actio n; obv ious ly no professiona l model coul d fit rhe bill - but what recourse did the painter have othe r than to depict the personage on t he bas is of his im agination? And was not thar a possible so urce of man nerism in irs own right ?) In co ntra st , it is at once appare nt that all of Wall's soldiers, Russian and Afghan alike, ca n only be per sons hired by him to dr ess up in the appro priate clot hing and assume rhe poses and enact the pieces of bus iness that he had devised for them (compare Sherman's use of herse lf as model in the Untitled Film Stills). What is more, it turns our t hat there was neve r a mome nt in Wall's st udio when the scene before the came ra was as it appea rs in th e ph otog raph; rathe r, he shor his picture one or rwo figures at a time a nd sumre d t he w hole cogerher wirh the aid of a compurer. Sontag may or may nor have known about the piecemeal shoo ting, bur she notes ar rhe start that Wall posed his figur es in a fictive landscape and is not in rhe least t roubled t hat this is so. In fact, I suggest tha t it is prec isely Sontag's reco gnit ion that Dead Troops Talk is nor a ca ndid shor of an actual event bur rat her a work of de liberate and elab orate art ifice rhar - tog et her with the aware ness that none of Wa ll's figures "loo k our of rhe picrure" und erwrites her adm irario n fo r his ac hievement . We mighr say that the facr rhat Dead Troops Talk is rran sparen rly a wor k of high artifice saves ir from rhe risk of "aesrheri-


why photography matters as art as never before

cizarion" which for Sontag constantly thr eatens non-art phot ogra ph s such as the sho ts of lynchings or the other images of violence and oppr ession she conside rs, even as its (do ubly) absorp t ive int erna l st ructure allows ir to avo id seemi ng to address rhe beho lder directly, a feature she approve s of on na rr ow ly et hical grounds but which l am suggesti ng has a more profou nd appeal to which she also respo nd s - one in keepi ng, l note, w ith her earlier (and probably the n st ill curr ent) preference for photographs of person s unawa re of being observed. Here it may seem as if la m on the verge of accusing Sontag of being inco nsistent, bm nothing co uld be furthe r from my point . Rathe r, my claim in rhe chapters rhar follow will be rhar just suc h a conjunc t ion of what l wan t to call "tobe-seenness" and a Dide rorian thematics of absorptio n has pla yed a significant role in some of the most interesting and impo rt ant photogr aph y of recent decades, and tha t Sontag 's accou nt of Dead Troops Talk, alt houg h nor co ncerned wit h art istic issues as such, is itself emblemat ic in tha t rega rd. Or to pu t thi s in terms harking back to the radicalization of voyeuri sm in The Temple of Dawn, I sugges t that once ir became imaginable that a "wo r ld" cou ld be " contami nated" by the mere fact of being beheld, the situation was ripe for t he emerge nce of an est het ic that would accept suc h "contam inat ion " as the basis of its procedures . Inevitabl y, that estheric found irs hom e in phorogra ph y.

three beginnings



introduction 1

2 3

The epith et is Mark Linde r's. See Lind er, Nothing Less than Literal: Architecture after Minimalism (Camb ridge, Mass., and London, 2004), p. 102. See also the discu ssion of" Art and Objecthood" in James Meyer, Minim alism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties (New Ha ven and Londo n, 2oor}, pp. 229- 42. H ere I will ment ion rhar in an endnot e to the introducto ry essay in Art and Objecthood I wrote: " It's noceworrhy ... the extent to which photography-base d (or simply pho tograp hic) work of the 1970s and after - for exam ple, that of Cindy Sherm an, Jeff Wall, and Gerh ard Richter - has found itself co mpelled co address issues of beho lding, often by an ap peal co abs orpti ve mean s and effects. Thi s is a large topic" ("A n Introduction to my Arc Criticism," Art and Objecthood : Essays and Reviews (Chicago and Lond on, 19981, p. 74). So I had begun to th ink alo ng these lines as early as t99 5-6. Fried, "A n Intr oduction to my Art Critici sm," p. SJ. My thanks co Molly Warnock for urging me to make this point.


three beginnings l





H iroshi Sugimoto in Kerry Broug her an d Davi d Elliott , Hiroshi Sugimoto, exh. cat. (Washingto n, D.C. and Tok yo, 2005 - 6), n.p . C indy Sherma n , Th e Complete Untitled Film Stills (New Yor k , 2003). Further page references to th is boo k will be in par enth eses in rhe text. See e.g. the essays by Craig Owens, Do uglas Crimp, Rosa lind Kra uss, et al. in Jo hanna Burton , ed., Cindy Sherman, OCTOBER Files 6 (Cambrid ge, Mass., and Lon d on, 2006); and J. M . Bernstein, Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting (Stanfo rd , Ca l., 2006), pp . 253-323 . See Michael Fried, "Art and Objecthood," Art and Ob jecthood: Essays and Reviews (Chicago and Lon don , 1998), pp. 148-72; Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of D iderot (1980 ; Ch icago and London, 1986); Courbe t 's Realism (Ch icago and London, 1990); and Manet's Modernism, or, The Face of Painting in the 1860s (Chicago and Lond on, 1996). See also Fried, "An Introd uct ion to my Art Criticism," Art and Objecthood, pp. 40-54. See e.g. Edwa rd Branigan, Narrative Comprehension and


Film (Londo n and New Yor k , 1992), p. 53 : "A glance (in a narrative film] imp lies an interaction with an ob ject. In fact, glances are so important to narrating a scory wo rld that the only glan ce that is genera lly avoided is a glance into the lens o f the camera . A look int o the camera br eaks the diegesis because it mak es the convent ional reverse shot or eyeline ma rch impossible. (Such a matc h wou ld reveal the cam era itself; its absence wou ld be just as revealing.)" For a fuller treatment of the tra nsgression constitute d by "a loo k and a voice addressed co the camera," also charac terized as "a n infraction of canon ical proportions, an affront co th e 'prop er' functioning of representat ion and filmic narrati ve," see Francesco Case tti , Inside the Gaze: The Fiction Film and }ts Spectator, trans. Ne ll Andrew with Charles O'Br ien (Bloom ington and Indianapo lis, 1998 ), esp. ch. 2, "The Figure of the Specrator," pp. r6, 17. My thanks co Dudley And rew for both references. See R egis Durand , " Intr od uct ion," in Cindy Sherman, exh. cat. (Paris, Bregenz, Humbleba ek, Berlin, 2006-7 ), p. 246. Othe r essays in the catalogue are by Jean-Pie rre Criq ui, who int erest ingly emph as izes Sherma n's "d isap peara nce" in favor of her many fictiona l self-images, and Laura Mulvey. More broadly, James Conant has argued in a series of seminars entitled "T he Onto logy of a Movie World," given at the H umanities Center, Johns Hopkins University in April 2007, tha t the requirements for the internal co herence o f such a "wo rld " align close ly with Diderot's account of the proper funct ioning of drama and paintin g in his wr iting s of the 17 50s and '6os . T he key essay in th at regard is undoubtedly Doug las Crimp's "The Photographic Activity of Posrmodernism," first pub lished in October, no. 15 (Winter r980 ): 91-ror. (Cited here from Burt on, Cindy Sherman, pp . 25-37.) At one po int Cr imp describes a phocogra ph y "that is selfconsciously compose d, man ipulated, fictionali zed, the so-ca lled dir ecto rial mode, in wh ich we find such auteurs of ph ot ography as Duane Mic hal s an d Les Krims." He cont inu es:

The strategy of this mode is to use the apparent veracity of photogra ph y agains t itself, creat ing one's fictions thr oug h the appearance of a seamless reality inco whic h has been woven a narrative dimension . Cindy Sherman's phot ographs function with in th is mode, but only in orde r to expose an unw a nted aspec t of that fiction, for the fiction Sherman discloses is the fiction of the self. Her pbocographs show th at the supposed auto nomous and unitary self out of wh ich those other "directo rs" would

not es to pages 1-10


create their fictions is itself nothing other than a discontinuous series of representations, cop ies, and fakes. Sherman's photographs are all self-portra its in which she appears in disgui se enacting a d rama whose particulars are withheld. This ambigui ty of narr ative parallels the ambiguity of the self that is both actor in the narrative and creato r of it. For tho ugh Sherman is literally selfcreated in these works, she is created in the image o f already known femin ine stereotypes; her self is therefore unde rstood as conti ngent on th e possibilities provided by the cu ltu re in which Sherman participa tes, not by some inner impulse. As such, her photographs reverse the terms of ar t and autobiog rap hy. They use art not to reveal the artist's true self but ro show the se lf as an imagi nary constr uct . Ther e is no real Cindy Sherman in these pho tographs; there are only the gu ises she assumes. And she do es not create these guises; she simp ly chooses them in the way that any of us do. The p ost of aut hors hip is d ispensed with not on ly through the mechanica l means of making the image but also through rhe effacement of any continuous, essential persona or even recognizable visage in the scenes. 134-51 The "d ispe nsin g" o r "effacement" of the "post of auth o rsh ip" is a crucia l postmodernist motif, as is the critique of rhe very not ion of a stable identi ty that C rimp 's account puts forward. More recently, Wa lter Benn Michaels has had this ro say about Sherma n's place in postmodern crit icism : [!In an important essay ca lled "Photography afte r Art Photo graphy, " Ab igail Solomon -Godea u could argue that photography had come ro "figure as a crucia l term in postmodern ism" precisely insofar as it had r epud iated the am bition to make photographs into works of art and had tak en instead "an instrum ental approach to the medium." What this involved was "using photography " to mak e art ra ther than making photograph s that were themselves arr, a d ist inction she derives from Peter Bunn ell's rema rk tha t he finds Cindy Sherman "interesting as an artist but uninteresting as a photographer" and that Arthur Da nto's su bsequent analysis of Sherma n "photography is not her medium . It is rat her a means to her artistic end s. Her medium is herself " - mak es perspicuous. In al l these analy ses, it is what the photograph is of that mak es it art . Even a more or less explicitly deconstructive manife sto like Craig Owens's essay " The Allegorica l Impulse: Tow a rd a Theory of Postmod ernism" p ra ises "untitled photos for film sti lls" in terms of Sher man's cleverness as a model: the "perfection of her imp erso nation s," Owens says, turns "d isguise" into "parody" and thus into cr iticism of the "a lienating identifications" of the mass media . Photo graphy is, of course, necessary for this project - without ir there would be no record of Sherma n 's virtuosity and, in fact, there wou ld have been no occasion for the virtuosity: the pose that is recor d ed by the photograph is also produced for the photograph. But thi s doub le functi on of the ca mer a in relation to rhe pose - it both causes and reco rds it - in no


notes to page 10

way detracts from th e primac y of the pose . Instead, insofar as the pose themat izes photography, trans forming the photograph into an element in the history of the pose (subsu ming the photo graph in the narrative of its own ex istence), the photo g raph is even more rigorously subord inated to the pose than it wou ld othe rwise be, for the p ose becomes, in effect, a critique of the pho togra ph. What the photograph shows is an object th at has been called into the worJd by the existence of came ras; rhe pose, as pose, calls attent ion to th is fact and cr iticizes the world rhe camera has made; the camera, then, reco rds this crit ique. Th e parodic elemen t in Sherman consists in her ins istence tha t the object the camera records is an objec t th e camera has made, but th e status of the ph otograp h as record is asserted rather tha n challenged by the parody. [The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History (Princeton and Oxford, 2004), pp. 97-8, emp ha sis in origi nal] Michaels's po int in rehearsi ng the pos tmodern account of Sherman's Untitled Film Stills is ro set the stage for a very different, i.e. modernist, reading of the work of the photographer James Welling, in which, as Mic haels puts ir, "Welli ng deploys the shape of the photograph aga inst rhe shape o f the objects photographed in order to defeat the camera's ability to let us see ob jects in the world and to emp loy those objects instead in the mak ing of photographs (to use them like paint )" (100). This scarce ly does justice to his pages on Welling, but my point is that, in the course of contrasting Welling with Sherman, Michaels perhaps too much accep ts th e postmodern readin g of her signature works - at any rate, my suggestion that the film stills bear a significant relat ion ro an antithearrica l problemati c concerns the photographs thems elves, not simp ly or essent ia lly the poses and disguises they record . 8 In the 2005 catalogue raisonne of Wall's work, one r eads : "Th e literature various ly describes the artist's backlit colour transparencies as 'transpare n cy in ligh tbox ', 'c ibachrome in lightbox', 'cibachrome transp arency in aluminium ', 'c ibachrorn e transparency in fluorescent light box ', ere. T he artist has spec ified th at the ter m 'tran sparency in lightbox' be used thr ougho ut ro des igna te these wor k s." And: "T he transparencies are mad e on Ilfochrome Class ic tran sparent mat erial. Ilfochrome was form erly known as Cibachrome ." Theodora Vischer and H eidi Naef, "Introductory Notes," Jeff Wall: Catalogue Raison ne r 978 - 2004 (Basel, 2005), p. 27 L And a few pag es on: "A year before comp leti ng The Destroyed Ro om, Wall produced a tr iptych of transparen cies entitled Faking Death . The left pan el d epicted a set featuring a bed in which th e art ist and severa l ass istants are absorbed in what appe ar to be prepara tions for making a photograph . The central and r ight panels depicted the artist lying in th e bed, actin g as if he were dead. Fakin g Death was exhib ited first at th e Nova Ga llery in Vancouver along with The Destroyed Room, and th en at his solo exh ibition at the Art Gallery of Greater Victor ia. It was exh ibited onc e aga in in the group exhib ition 'Cibachrom e' at Th e Photo







Gallery in Orrawa in T980. Soo n after , Wall decided to withdraw the work from his co rpus" (p. 275). For an informative d iscussion of Wall's beginn ings as an artist, includ ing his close relations with h is fellow ar tist from Vanco uver Ian Wallace, see Peter Ga lassi, "U northodox ," in Peter Ga lassi and Nea l Benezra,jeff Wall, ex h. cat. (New York, Ch icago, San Francis co, 2007-8 ), pp. 14-29 . Jeff Wall in Vischer and aef, Jeff Wall (Basel, 2005), p. 28!. Further page refere nces to th is book will be in parentheses in the text. Fried, "A rt and Ob jecthood, " p. 164. See also Sta n ley Cavel!, Th e World Viei11ed:Reflections 011 the Ont ology of Film, en larged editi on (Camb r idge, Ma ss., and London, 1979), p. 90: "One impu lse o f ph otog raphy, as imm edia te as its imp ulse to ex tend the visible, is to theatrical ize its subjects. The photographer's co mmand, " Watc h the birdi e!" is essentially a stage d irection. One may object that th e command is give n not to achieve the unnaturalne ss of theater but precisely to give the impression of the natura l, that is to say, th e candid; and that the point of the dire ction is nothi ng more th an to dist ra ct the su bject 's eyes from fronting on the ca m era len s. But th is misse s th e point, for the que stion is exac tly why the impression of natu ral ness is conveyed by an essenti ally theatrical tec hn ique. And wh y, or when, the candid is missed if the subje ct turn s hi s eye into the eye of th e ca mera." And p p . r J 8-19: "Setti ng pic ture s to mo tion mechanically overcame what I earlier ca lled the inherent theatr ica lity of th e (still) phocogra ph. The development of fast film allowed th e sub jects of photographs to be ca ught unawa res, beyond ou r or the ir con trol. Bur they are neve rth eless caught; the ca mera holds the last lanyard of co nt rol we would forgo." See Jean-Fran ·rl'aliscic' and precisely bc:L11u,cQt rh1 l"C':'llism mey underLUl any attempt ro look for dut'> thnt would allow one ro go hcyond rhem" (r6- :17J,1~ For Peter Galassi, "Ruff'~ porer.msprove ma fare-thc.:-c-wcll thnt phorogrophyis equally ca1,ahlc of rCC'ordingcverythinj.;.md rcvt-almg nmhin~~ ( 1 ~,. (He ,1J~ordcr.. 10 the large pnrrraics as ~monumcmal icon~ of blankness" [2.71,)Jc i\ rdcvant t hat Ruff's portrait phut0gn1ph,; dcp1cr ,1 largely honmgl'n1:11u~ popularion 0£ fricnc.l~;1110 ,1cq1L1inranccs; at nny r:m·. norhing could he 11111n· ~lien to his purpost:' than ~truth'~ chokl.' of culruroll)' diverse ns well os malti ,µen~r:.rnon:i)r:imili('S ns tht subjects nf his fomily porrrairs (to bt discussed la Chilpter S!.'vcn).1' t\.~ RuH also says, hi$ ponrnil'!, n111 ounr rn enlarged p:issporr phowgrnp hs - in fact· much of rbei.r persistent shm:k-t,dfocr nrlscs from theg ross cu111rn~r in si1.e betwt'e11 his ltH'J,;(' colun;d portra its ctnd the riny generic nnrn,. 16


wttv 11h olog1s ph y m,;t1or., .1•1orl n•, 1,ev,n l1,,to 1t!

All lhis is welltinclcr~wod - indeed Ruff's stra ightforwardnes s in interv iews leaves nu room for doubt as ro his intcllt·iOns. \'i/hot is perhap.~ lcs~ unJersrood - whnt in any case has not heen tvuchcd on by either Ruff or his many commenta tor~ - is thi: siJZnifi cance of 1hi.-porrrorc as a b11~i~ for Ruff's dtdslve incerv1:nti1111. The fir~t poim to he made is so ohvinus as scarce ly ro require emph.1s1~:almosr ;111 Ruff·~ portrait pht,rogrnrhs, espec1Jlly from 1986 on, arc ngorou!>lyfromal, which i~ why rh1:passporc analogy ~,1it:Sth1:m. Now. faces se~·n from the from fare the viewer; indeed Ir is hard w thin!- of another 111mirthar L~cap:ible of rhemari1;ing focingncss with co1111 ,nra ble force and exp licitness. IJur this is nor ro ~.iy rhot mosr frontn l porrrairs, wlwrher paincc "s urfoco.~• · whose claim on tl1e virwc1•is most inrcn~ivc and undeniahlt: and dw presence "within " or "upmt'' which of alnw st invisibly mmutc differences Is registered by him or her with the grcnrc.\l .1cutc1WS\.1• Wirh rCpossible for cx-p1:r1cnccd muscmn~ocrs - persons wh,1 arc not connnis:.curs - to rcCo!(ilitean alm~t nnlimiicd amounr of persona l and orhcr stylisti.: m;irkc.:rsin boch rr prcwma 1ional :ind non-rcpcescnturional works. Ami it ii. wh.,r enables Gertrude 5tci11,in her under app rccir1tcd ess.1y" Picnircs," to link th1:two, choL1ghthe further inreresr of her rcmRrks

,,wf'l•lronshells, to prcst:nr minute S(·cti011s of Lhc Southern sky in tlw mosr dernched :1-t1dobjective manne r po:..~iolc. A fun her dimension of dw topic i\ his10ri1.-al.As I show in M,met's ,\foden11s111. the ponrni r as 11 ~cnrc, aod morl' hmndly rhe mode of :1ddrcs.sro the vicwer th.11I have been calling fothe land.scape chc tiny figures of hikers whose prc.>senc1• rhc phorogr::ipher,unlike his camcr::i,hnd failed to rcgistcr at rhc 1irnc. I le rhus recliscovcrcclone of rhc oldest, simplest, ::imlmost reward11res o f photography- rhc pnricnr ddecrnti on of clctnils roo small, too im:idcning pl1:11s

1ean-lran Sugimmo. ,1nd Bus-urnnnre (I am e>.empting Sherman ap.irr from her carlill~t so:rie!>), well as other phorographcrs scill 10 OCdiscussed. hclung t0 a renewed nnd re\•iscd anr.itJleJtrknl rradirion. 1) Theomost obviouslr relevant of those fcarurcs 1s Gur.k) \ mcrcasmg recourse, starring in the early 1990s, to digitall)' mampubr.ing hi~ images, a process that has rcsulred in a nnmlwr of his most famou~ "orks, i11clucli11gParis. Mo11tpamnsse( 199 3 ), Pradt1I (1996; Fig. 96), Atla11ta( 1996; Fii;. 97), Untitled V ( 1997), Chicago Bot1rd 11(Trade ( r 997), T1111 es Squm·e ( 1997), ond J{hi11eJJ ( 1 y99; Fig. 98). The extent of thl' manipu · lation vnrics from work co work, b111 in all c,1ses rbcn: is n cnnsequenr loosening of the

joan fra11~01scho11rloron tho "tableau wrm"

1horn, 1s ruff. ondreas g,trsky luc dt!l.i~av,•




G11 ~L.• R#mre "·

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or · ju m ·ired , r


\ h Ji ,m f ~o . u h pl:marion he.re. 'h. t matrl'r!. t m • ar~\1111 ·nt, hor e e i th•.n rh fC/i.l!ltingimagei- or' imrin i all f1 t, ar I . t n t in rhd •ntir •ry rl • r c:or I of il!l thing thn1 • m id have I · •n ·een in the r ·al wor l 11 :1 hum:111 ob:, ,. ,r or ·in fo •d a me ·fl.mi al r · rding i11s1 rumc rH; rhc luos ·ning,of inidc·i a lit i rn ;ur 'ky"a c 1uh•, lcnr f n e er-in f' h any rigin. r)' p •r · ptu el • 11

II I ·ncl


t11r ·; in

99 Andre,,~ Gur~ky. llappy \ i.11/1')' I, 1995. Chromogcmc process pnnt .


x 186


Scl,iµol (d:1tcd r99 4 but phorogrnphcd c;irlier), art empt y runwa y is seen throug h a floor-to-ceiling gin.~ wall, presunrnhly in a waiting area (the slightly blurred toil of an nirliner can just be glilllpscd exiting cbe picmrc at rhe extreme right. and 1herc ace also faint rcflccnons of the waiting are:i itself m rhe gianr glass panes); and in Happy V1dl1')'I (1995; Fig. 99), a view of Hong Kong, :rn urban land~cape is seen from an elevated vantage poim through a currainlike metallic scri1:n,which significnmly is in shaq,er foc11~than nny orhcr item in the picture. Thc11there is che spccrocula r Aut obnh'II,

rean 1ranc;o15chev11or on the •1all,f'.l11uform•. thomas roll, arid,eas gursky, luc delanJve






. --··


oo AnclrcnsGursky, A11tobnlm, Mc//111,11111, 19y3 . Chrnmogenic process prinr. 186 x i.:i.6cm

Fig. 1 oo), a Strongly downw ard view onto a field dott ed wirh blackand-whire cows; the horizontal bands ,,r e stripes " painted on the glass siding [of the autobahn overpass! to mark its presence and w discourage drivers froni being overly distrncrcd by rhe landscape'' (Galassi, 37) - hence the b:rnds' subtle narrowing and dark:1ge. The severing effect of the hands, and more genening tow:1rclthe bottom of the i111 erally of the viewer's uncertaimy as to how 1·0 understand his or her implied siruation (loo king downward through the ).llasssiding), could scarcely be more emphatic. 1r, There are also two impressive picmn.:s of buildings: Hon g l( ong 1111d SINmghai Bank, Hong L..'J)anseof floor in th e Musco Civico o r the Neue Narionalgalerie - but rather is i11duced to survey the pictures in question with a blend of heightened visual alertn ess and all but explici t bodily decachmenc. A picture chat drives thi s home with almost didactic intent is Ballett zentrum Hamburg {IT (20or; Fig. r81), with its single functiona l chair- the ba llet teacher's? - placed in selfconta ined iso lation in the middle of a large practice room. It is not a cha i1·one imagines oneself approaching, muc h less seated in. Ar the same time, the interiors th emselves strike th e viewer as w1quesrionab ly actual, compre hens ible, ac least at first glance continuous with his or her own exper iential realm. (What I am crying to convey is that the viewer's sense of exclus ion from the spaces in H ofer's photographs is nowhere near as radical as the sense of "sever ing" that I have associated with Gursky's art. No r for that matter do her photographs act ively repulse tbc viewer in the mann er of Busramanr e's Tableaux, or make a poinr of their own "saturation" in that of Demand 's pictures. Perhaps it is simply that they cont inua lly find means ro emp hasize their "opticaliry," to use a term from my crit icism of rhe I96os that Jeff Wall has recently app lied to his own


why phot ography mane rs as an as never be fore


Candida Hofer, Ballettzentrum Hamburg 111, 2.oor. Chrnmogen ic process pr int. 152cm 181

T 52.


photographs .34 ) Thus when Lambino remarks that Hofer's images "revea l only the traces of those activi ties foui1d embedded in the details of the work " (24), everything depends on what she means by "traces" and "embedded ." On the one hand, the individual room s are indeed, as she suggests, almost always treated as "places for socia l and cultural encounters and vital interchanges" (2 4 ); on the other hand, even in a photograph like Museo Civico Vicenza Tl which in a certain sense contain s the evidence of diiferent sets of intentions (Mus il's "meanings" and "opinions") - those that went into the making of the paintings and globes, those char went into the initial construction of the building, those that went into the design of the modern museum - there is nothing whatever of the conspicuous trace srrucrure - the mater ial evidence of wear an d rear, of years of ha rd

thomas de mand. cand1da hofer. h1rosh1sug,moto, and them as struth


use, of continuous habitation, alteration, and deterioration -found in Strutb's early stree tscapes, for examp le. This too militates agai n st imagining other than a strictly visua l exploration of th e depicte d place. 3s The insig ht with respect to H.ofer's photographs diat I mentioned above concerns, to begin with , the fact th at in " Art and Objecthood" 1 drew attent ion to the importance to min imalist/literalist theory and practic e of the placement of a given work in a particu lar sort of inte rior space. In Morris's words (quoted by me}: For the space of the room itself is a struc tur ing factor both in its cu bic shape and in terms of the kind of compression different sized and proportioned rooms can effect upon th e object-subject terms . [Morris is imagining the su bject - the viewer - encoun ter ing liceralist work within a cubic gallery space.] That the space of the room becomes of such importance does not mean that an environmental situat ion is being established. The coral space is hopefull y altered in certain desired ways by the presence of the object. le is not contr o lled in the sense of being ordered by an aggregate of objects or by some shap i11gof th e space surrounding the viewer. [154 ]36

In my gloss: The object, not the beholder, mu st rema in the center or focus of the sirnat ion , but the situation itse lf belongs to the beholder - it is his situa tion. Or as Morris has remarked , "l wish to emp hasize that things are in a space with oneself, rathe r than ... rtha t] one is in a space sur rounded by things." Again, there is no clear or hard distinct ion between the two stares of affairs: one is, after all, always surrounde d by th_ings. But th e things th at are litera list work s of arr mu st some how confr ont the beholder - they must, one might almost say, be placed not jusr in his space bur in his way . .. Ir 54, emphasis in or iginal] This is where the room - the galle ry int er ior - comes in as the ideal arena for the par ticu lar sort of confronta tion "Art and Objecrhood " sought to analyze, a confrontation in which, as has already been remarked, the literalist object itself is in effect replaced by the embodied subject's ongo ing and in principle open-ended experience not on ly of that obje ct but a lso of rhe cocal sit uati on in whic h the subject finds himself or herself by virtue simp ly of entering the room (163). "The concept o f a room is, mostly clandestin ely, important to literalist art and theory," I remarked in a footnote. "In fact, it can often be substituted for the word 'space' in the latter: somethin g is sa id to be in my space if it is in th e sa me room with me (and if it is placed so rhac I can hard ly fail co notice it)" (p. 170 n. I4}. Along the same lines, tho ugh not at all cr itically of minimalism, Dan Gra ham wrote in 1985: While American " Pop" art of th e ear ly r96os referr ed to the surrounding media world of cultura l information as framework, "Minimal" art work of the middle through lare I9 6os wou ld seem co be referring to the ga llery 's interior cube as the ult imate contextual frame of reference or support for rhe work. This reference was only com -


why phot ography matters as art as never before

positional; in place of a compositional reading interior to the work, the gallery would compose the art's formal structure in relation to the gallery's interior architectura l structure. That the work wa s eq uated to the architectural cont a iner tend ed to literalize it; both the architectural conta iner and th e work contained withjn were meant to be seen as no n-illusion istic, neutra l and objectively factual - that is, as simply material. Th e gal lery functioned literally as part of the art. 37 (From my point of view such an acco unt , wh ile tru e as far as ir goes, fails to mention , no doubt beca use it takes for granted, the primacy of the expe riencing subject. } Graha m's observat ions are bound to str ike the informed reader as re calling nor just "Art and Objecthood" but another text as well: Brian O 'Doh erty's Inside the Whi te Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space, a short book compris ing four essays the first thr ee of which first ap peared in Artforum in I976. O 'Dohe rty's thesis is that the white cube of the mod ern gallery inter ior has played a fund a ment al, albeit for the most pa rt unacknowledged, role in the development of modernist painting a nd sculpt ure (and beyond these, of minimalism). "T he history of modernism is intimately framed by that space," he writes early on: ro ]r rather the hisrory of modern art can be correlated wit h changes in that space and in the way we see it. We have now reached a point where we see no t the art but the space first. (A cliche of the age is to ejac ulate over the space on enrer ing a ga llery.) An image com es ro mind of a whit e, ideal spa ce that, more than any single picture, may be the arche typal image of twent ieth century art ; it clari fies itself thr ough a process of historical inevitability usually atta ched to the art it conra ins.38 Two further paragraphs are a lso relevant: A gallery is construc ted along laws as rigoro us as those for buildi ng a medieval ch urch . The outsi de world must not come in., so win dows are usually sealed off. Walls are painted white. Th e ceiling becomes the sourc e of light. Th e wooden floor is poUshed so that you click along clinically, or carpeted so that you pad sow1dlessly, resting the feet wh ile the eyes have ac the wall. The art is free, as the saying used to go, "to rake on its own life." The discreet desk may be the 011lypiece of furnitur e. In this con text a stand ing ashtray becomes a lmost a sacred objec t, just as the firehose in a modern museum looks not like a firehose but an aesthetic conundrum. Modernism's transposition of percept io n from life to formal values is comp lete. This, of course, is one of modernism's faral diseases. Unshadowed, white, clean, artificia l - the space is devoted to the technology of aesthetics. Works of art are mounted, hung, scattered for study. Their ungrubby SLtrfaces are untouched by time a nd ics vicissirndes. Art ex ists in a kin d of eternity of display, and though there is lots of "per iod" (late mod ern), there is no rime. Th is eterni ty gives the gallery a limbolike status; one has co have died already to be there. Indeed the presence of that odd piece of furniture, your own body, seems super -flo us, an intrusion. The space offers the thought that wh ile eyes and mind s are welcome, space-occ upying bodies are not - or are tolerated on ly as kinesthet ic manneqwns for fur ther

thomas demand; candida heifer, hiroshi sugimoto, and thomas struth



Ca ndid a Hofer, DHFK Leipzig IV, r99r. Chrom ogcnic process print. 38 x 57 cm

study . This Cartesian paradox is reinforced by one of the icons of our visual cultur e: the installation shoe, sans figures. Herc at last the spectator, oneself, is eliminated. You are ther e without being there - one of the major services provided for art by its old antagonist, photography. T he installation shot is a metaphor for the gallery space. In it an ideal is fulfilled as Strongl y as in a Salon painting in the 1830s. I 15] Perha ps it is already clear where my argument is tending. I suggest that a fundamental poinc of reference for Hofer' s p hotographs of interiors, whether or not sht: is aware of it, is the modernist galle ry space, which her pictures at once allude to and critique in severa l highly specific respects. On the side of a llusion there is not only the emptiness of Hofer's interiors and the transcendent clarity with which they are depicted, but also what Glenn describes as "her reticent but richly nuanced ha ndling of co lor, characterized by a compelling use of the range of white (19, emphasis added). As Glenn aptly remarks: [H ofer] chooses to let white define a great many of her compositions, from the most subtle contrasts illuminating archi tectura l detail or refining perception of the space, to the motifs highlighted by emphasizing repetitive forms, such as row upon row of spotless library reading tables. Look closely at the images as a whole. Th e overwhelming effect is that of being tonall) ' pale, suff used with light. In one portion -


why photography matters as art as never before

usually slightly more or less than ha lf of the compos ition - white dominates, balanced by the darkness of th e contras tin g area, which is often lightened by reflection. I19l Glenn's observations perfectly fit the picture s by Hofer I have looked at, as well as numerous others, early and late , such as DHFK Leipzig IV (r99r; Fig. r82), Schindler House Los Angeles Vf/ (2000; Fig. L83), and th e spectacular Ca' Rezzonico Venezia I (2003; Fig. 184), thre e images of w idely different types of interiors which nevertheless belong to a single colorisr ic sensibility. No doubt H ofer's predi lection for white rooms (and white light ) has temperamental roots. The fact remains rhar the strong ly white ronality of her art harks back to the pristine whiteness of the modernist gallery, as does what might be ca lled the rracelessness of her interiors (note the "u ngrubb y" surfaces of the modernist works of art chat O'Doherty characterized as "untouched by time and its vicissitudes"). On the side of critique are other conspicuous features of H ofer's photographs. For one thing, the interiors themselves are not literall y featur eless but more often than not are highly detailed and richly articu lated; for anot her, the windows are not sealed off so that the outside world cannot enter but rather are crucial and consp icuous sources of bri!Lanc illumination; and for a thi rd, the emphas is in her photog raphs is only occasiona lly on t83 x


Candida H ofer, Schindler House Los Angeles VIL, 2000. cm

Chromogeoic process print.

T 52

lho mas demand; candida hofer. h1roshi sugi molo, and them as struth

29 1


Candida Hofer, Ca' Rezzonico Venezia l,

200 3 .

Chrornogenic process print . 15-z.x


r cm

tbe walls, which more often than not are subordinated to the floors, ceilings, lighting, and various objects such as tables, chairs, bookshelves, mi;;rnrs, windows, lamps, statues, and the like. More broadly, the "t imelessness" - also rhe placelessness39 - of the modern gallery space is contradicted by the historical and geographical specificity of her diverse, carefully chosen locales. A further issue concerns the status of the viewer, and her e, preci sely with respect co minima lism, O 'Do herty's insistence that rhe modernist gall e ry is antipathetic to the embodied subject undergoe s a certain modification. In his words:


why pho tograp hy matt ers as art as never before

ln the late sixries and sevent ies, Eye and Spectat or (rhe latte r being a vestige or ghost of the fully embodied subjecrl negot iate some tra nsactions. Min ima l o bjects o ften provoke d perceptions orhe r than the visual. T hough what was there instant ly declared itse lf ro the eye, it had to be checked: othe rwise, what was the point of threedimensio naliry? There are rwo kinds of time h ere: the eye ap p rehended rhe objecr at once, like paint ing, then th e body bore rhe eye a round it. This prompted a feedback between expectation co nfirmed (checking) a11d hir herro subl iminal bo dily sensat io n . Eye and Spectator were not fused bur cooperated for the occas io n. T he finely tun ed Eye was impressed with some residual dara from its abandoned body (che kines thet ics of gravity, tracking, ere.) The Specraror's other senses, a lways there in the raw, were infused w ith some of rhe Eye's fine discriminations. The Eye u rges rhe body aro und to provide it w ith in formation - the body becomes a data-gatherer. There is heavy traffic in bot h directions o n this senso ry highway - betwee n sensation concep tualized and concept actualized. In th is unstab le rapproche ment lie the orig ins of perceptual scenarios, performance, and Body Arr. I50-52] l have reservations about chis as a paraphrase of the minimalist/literalist project (the notion of "c hecking," th e two kinds of time, the body "bearing" the eye), just as l do not share O'Doherry's view cha r in modern ist painting before minimalism the body seemed "superfluous, an intr usion " (the w hole distinctio n that runs throug hout his book betwee n Eye and Spectator seems ro me forced, as does rhe claim rbac "o ne has to have died already" ro be in the modernis t gallery space). Yet O'Do herry a nd I agree that minimalism addressed itself to bodily experience in a new way, and here the difference between the minima list/litera list room (as discussed in "Arr and Objecthood") and Hofer's interio rs, with th eir calc ulated exclusion of the viewer, is indeed intense. The ubiquitousness of reflections in Hofer's pictu res, per haps most dramatically exemplified by DHFK Leipzig JV with its high ly po lished gym nasi um floor reflecting rbe g lare fro m rows of windows through which light floods the vast interior (here too the glare is played off aga inst the actual fall of daylight from uppe r right to lower left), also works aga inst die minimalist idea even more strong ly than aga inst the modernist one, for the simple reason that rbe floor as such - as the grow1d of the embodied viewer's movements and an importa nt context for the placement of ind ivid ual objects - plays a more emphat ic role in min imalism than it docs in mode rnism (just imag ine tr ying to come to ter ms with one of Carl Andre's metal square pieces staged on that gymn asium floor) . So also does Hofer's frequent choice of elevated viewpoints, which deparr radically from tbat of any possible viewer who migh t enter by foo t the actual inte rior. One last feat ttre of O'Doherty's sum mary accou nt of the mode rnist gallery space deserves not ice: hjs claim that "the installation shot, sans figures," captures something like the essence o f the mode rn ist ga llery-go ing exper ience . " Here at last th e spectato r, oneself, is eliminated" - comp letely, he seems to be saying. O bvio usly J think th is is much too extreme as a characterization of the modernist experience, but what O 'Do herty's remarks interestingly suggest- here coo l agree wirh him - is that by way of the installation shot photography effective ly excludes the viewer from the dep icted scene ("You

themas demand; cand ,da hofer, hi rosh1 sugimoto. and thomas strut h


are there without being there," as he puts it). In that sense, the installation shot as described by O'Doherry anticipa tes the strictly visual, beholder-excluding esthetic of Hofer's photographs of interiors, though of cvurse the latter go infinitely beyond even the most artfu.l installation shot in the explorat ion of their rich and variegated main motif.40

There is space in this drnprer for only some brief remarks about four additional bodies of work - Sugimoro's black-and-w hite ''Seascapes," which he began making in 1980 and which by now number in the hundreds; $truth's "Paradise" photog raphs of forests and jungles, made between r998 and 2.ooi; and t\vo photobooks of animals in zoos, Winogrand's The Animals (1969) and H ofer's Zoologische Garte,z (1993), which aU but demand to be compa red with each other. Of the first of Sugimoco's "Seascapes," a p hotograph of the Caribbean Sea taken in Jamaica in 1980 (Fig. 185), the artist has explained that he was on a cliff above the sea, "oot very high, probably ten meters or so above the level of the sea. The spot was practical for surveying the ocean: no boar, or yacht, or ste::imer,solely the water and the sky. Thar was what I wanted. I decided always tO keep exactly the same composit ion, with the horizon line as a fixed center; half sky, half water, nothing else. "'11 According ly he made a mark on the frame of his viewfinder in order to determine the correct posirion of the horizon line for all subsequent photographs. What this has meant is that the "Seascapes" all have the same extreme ly simple internal struct ure though they also differ considerab ly from one another depending on the lighting and weather conditions and the precise stare of the water. Indeed there are photographs in which the horizon line is invisible owing to fog or mist, but in those cases Sugimoto appears ro have ascertained where it wo uld have been and to have stuck rigorously to his formula. When one encoun ters a single "Seascape" in a gallery or museum, one is invariably struck by its quiet grande ur. For Sugimoco himself the almost identica l pictures compose a vast, open-ended series, and he prefers ro think of the viewer as being invited to compare a number of them with one another so as at once to notice small differences - by looking closely at individual images to the point of "drowning" in them - and to become increasingly aware of what rhey all have in common. 42 Another way Sugimoto has of speaking of the "Seascapes" as a group is in terms of an imaginative journey far back in time. In the "Seascapes," he has said, "there is no human presence. Because I try to depict the prehuman state of the landscape. It is as if r were the first man to appear on chis planet which is the earrh. The first man who lam looks around and discovers his first landscape, a marine landscape. Made solely of air and water. That is why there is no human trace. " 43 The notion of tracelessness recalls both Deman d's reconstructions (which bear traces only of the ir manufact ure) and Hofer's interiors (which although "historical" are also pristine), while the theme of the prehumao is broad ly suggestive witb respect to theatrica lity - as if the "Seascapes" are imagined by Sugimoto as depicting so many nearly identical elemental scenes that had


w hy photography ma ue, s as art as

never before

185 Hiroshi Sugimoto, Caribbean Sea,Jamaica, 1980. Gelatin silver prim. rr9.4 x 149.2 cm, N egative 30 1

never previously been observed by human eyes; ind eed as if, to amend slightly Sugimoco 's though r, the "or iginals" of chose scenes ha d been seen only by his camera, nor by Sugimoto himse lf, before th ey were made available as representation by means of his photographs. Both Sugimoto's remarks and m y eme nd ation are clearly ficrions but there is anothe r, more ft1J1damental sense in which the beholder and perhaps a lso the phoro graph er are exclu d ed from chc "Seasca pes." This begins to emerge if one co nsiders che relat ion of the in div idual imag es co their titles, which in all cases cons ist simply of the names bo th of the sea that the photograph depicts and of the place where it was taken. To cite three more repre sent a tive works in th e series: Sea of Japan, Rebun Island ( t996; Fig. 186); N orth Atlanti c Ocean (r996; Fig. I 87); and Black Sea, Ozu luce (r991; Fig. .c88). What

themas demand. candida hoier, h1rosh1 sug 1rnoto. and Lhomas struth


186 Hiroshi Sugimoto , Sea of Japan, Rebun ls/and, J996. Gelarin silver print . .u9.4 x 149.2. cm, Negarive 460 1.87 (facing page top) Hiroshi Sugimoto , North Atlantic Ocean, Cape Breto11ls/and, 1996. Gelatin silver print. u9 .4 x i49 .2 cm, Negative 464

188 (facing page bottom) Hiroshi Sugimoto , Black Sea, Ozuluce, 199 ·1. Gelatin silver print. n 9.4 x 149 .2 cm, N ega tive 366

is obvious ly striking about th ese is that the scenes in the photographs are all more o r less identical; more precisely, such differences among them as can be discerned (and as no ted earl ier, Sug imo to encourages rhe discerni11g of differe nces) have no bear ing on the question of local e. Topogr a phica lly th ere is no difference ar a ll between one "Seascape" and another: this follows from Sugimot0's decisio n ro seek rhe same elementa l motif thr ougho ut the enr ire series and to frame it identically. The titles thu s assure the viewer of someth ing chat cannot be seen - that the "Seascapes" were shot in different places. More precisely, they an nounce that the photograp her has had to trave l to different par ts of the world and set up his unwiel.dy, o ld-fash ioned apparatus above o ne shore line or another in order to take bis pictures. And w hat is crucial to grasp is that Sugimoto has done all this not so as ro show the viewer what th e places in question look like (no one


why photography mauers as art as never before

r89 Hiroshi Sugimoto, Mirtoan Sea, S0unio11,t990. Gelatin siJver print. n 9.4 x 149.2 cm, Negative 354

co uld recogn ize the places from the pictures or vice versa) but in order that the viewer comes to see that the photograph er has not been tak ing picrures of what they look like, understanding by th is nor some curious sort of failure but rather a deliberate, ontologically ambitious project. In other words, the "Seascapes," despite appearances, are in no sense views - a po int drummed hom e by the pictures shot at night, among the most compelling of the ser ies (Fig. r 89 ).''

"Jn Chapter One of chis book l discussed several passages on voyeurism from Yukio Mishima's The Temple of Dawn, and in the conclusion 1 shall discuss Wall's After "Spring Snow" by Yukio Mishima, a photograph based on an episode in the first novel in the tecralogy. Here, however, I want to quote a longish passage from the opening chapter of Th e Decay of the Angel, which brings The Sea of Fertility tetralogy to a close:


why photography maners as art as never be l ore

The sea, a nameless sea, the Mediterranean, the Japan Sea, the Bay of Suruga here before him; a rich, name less, absolute anarchy, caughr after a great struggle as something called "sea," in fact rejecting a name. As the sky clouded over, the sea fell into sulky contemplation, studded with fine nightingale-colored points. It bristled with wavethorns, like a rose branch. in the tl1orns themselves was evidence of a smooth becoming. The thorns of the sea were smooch.

As for Struth 's "Paradise " series, taken betw een 1998 and 200 1 in forests and jung les in China, Japan, Australia, Brazil, and German Bavari a (Fig. I9 0), nothing more surprisingly dem onstrates the appeal in recent art photography of the strategy of exclusion than these large an d disconcerting pictur es, almo st all of which seem to have as their aim the co nfronting of cbe viewer with scenes of impen etr ab le lushness, density, com plexity, non-different iarion. 44 Surpri singly, because throughout his career Struth ha s been the most empathic of contemp orary photographers (as both the fami ly portrai ts and the cityscapes demonstrate ), wh ich suggests that the "Paradise " photogr aphs represent a deliberate attempt to go again st his own natur al tendencies in the interest of bring ing about a differe nt, resolutely non-empathi c relat ion betw een pictur e and viewer. By and large, commentator s have under stood that they were being shut ou t of these pictures, bur what has nor been acknowledg ed is the larger artistic context in which exclus ion has emerged as a major trope for ambitious arr photography. So for example Rei Masuda writes: "It ma y be possible to identify room for thought if we really wanted ro, but,

Thre e ren. There were no ships in sight . Very stra nge. T he whole vast space was aba ndoned. Ther e were not even wings of gulls. Then a phanrom ship arose and disappe ared toward the west . The Tzu Peninsu la was shrou ded in mist. For a time ir ceased co be the lzu Peninsul a. It was the ghost of a lost peninsula . Then it disap peared entirely. 1t had becom e a fiction on a map . Ships and peni nsula alike belonged to "the absurdity of existen ce.'' They appear ed and disappeared. H ow did they differ? If the visible was the sum of being, then the sea, as long as it was not lost in mist, exis red rbcrc. Ir was heartily ready to he. A single sh ip chang ed ir all. Th e who le compo sition cha nged. With a rending of the who le pan ern of being, a ship was received by th e horizo n. An ab dicat ion was signed. A whole uni verse was thrown away. A ship cam e in sight , ro throw out the universe chat had guarded its absence. Mulriple cha nges in rhe color of the sea, mome nt by mom ent. Change s in the clouds. And the appearance of a ship . What was happenin g? What were happenings? Each insta nt brought them, mor e mome nrous than the explosion of Krakatoa. le was only that no one noti ced. We are too accustomed to the absurdity of exis tence. The loss of a universe is nor worth taking seriously. Happ enings are the signal s for endless recon struction , reorganization . Signals from a dis-

tanr bell. A ship ap pears and sers th e bell to ringin g. ln an instant the soun d makes everyrhing irs ow n. On the sea they are incessanr, the bell is forever ringing. A being. It need not be a ship . A single birter orange, appeari ng no one knows when. It is enou gh to set rhe bell ro ringi ng. Thr ee rhirty in the aft ernoon . A single bitt er orang e rep resent ed being on the Bay of Suruga. (Yukio Mishima , Tl,e Deca)• of the Angel, tr. Edward G. Seiden sticker [I 97 1; New York, L97 41, pp . 8-ro) ln Sugimoto's "Seasca pes," of course, there are no ships, no bitte r orange, ever. Nevert heless, from rhe perspective of the passage just quor ed, Sugimoto's seas , in their very sam eness - their resistance to ident ity, themari zed, I have suggested, by their tirles (or rather by rhe "fa ilure" of the rirles to capt ure any intrinsic qua lity il1 the images as such) - mighr be regarde d as so many pictures of the same " rich , namele ss, absolure anarch y, caugh t after a great strug gle as something called 'sea,' in fact rejecting a name. " As for the visible as "rhe sum of being," on e questio n might be whether it is not Sugimoro's photograph s rhar confer being on the seas, insofar as the larcer muse be und erstoo d as hav ing been "visib le" onl y ro the eye of rhe camera. In any case , a certain concordan ce between Mishima's text and Sugimoto 's photograph s seems not hing less than starrling . My thanks to Walter Benn Mi chaels for helping me think through the beho lder-excluding aspects of Sugimoro 's "Seasca pes."

thornas demand; cand,da heifer, hiroshi sug 1moto, and lhomas struth


faced with the overwhelming existence of che plants, we are made co feel that such incenrions can wait." 4 5 And Daniel Birnbaum: "Struth originally saw these dense textures as illegible cext, as impossible to grasp as caJligraphic writing for an untrained Westerner. Thus a zone of natural phenomena appea rs beyond the antinomies of subjectivity, a realm of raw but nor entirely alien experiences of the world of trees and planes and splendid blossoms. Pure visibility, the Aesh of the world, colorful things in rhe sun. "46 Struth himself bas said that the photographs "contain a wealth of delicately branched information, which makes it almost impossible, especially in large formats, to isolate single forms. One can spend a lot of rime in fr onr of these pictures and remain helpless in terms of knowing bow to deal with them. "'17 Srruth's own understanding of his project is characteristically "spir itual" - rhe picrnres in his view "emphasize the self" and provide occasions for meditation and interna l dialogue (r sc}. No doubt this is true, bur their deepest artistic significance lies elsewhere, in rhe charged space between photograph and viewer.

190 Thomas Strurh, Paradise 6, Daintree. Australia , 1998. Chromogenicprocess prinr. r 69.7 x 214.3 cm; r 76.7 x 22.r.3 cm framed


why photography matte rs as art as never be fore

19 , Ga rry W inogran d , Bronx Zoo, 1963, from The Animals, 1969. Ge latin silver print . 2.2.9 x 34.2 cm. Museum of M odern Art, New York. Pu rchase and gifr o f Barbara Schwartz. in memory of Eugene M. Schwartz

192. (below) Ca ndida HofeI, Zoologischer Garten Amsterdam fl, 1992.. C hromogcn ic process print. 26 X 46.4 cm

Fina lly, it is instru ctive to compare two slender books of photo grap hs of animals in zoos, Winogrand's The Animals (r969) 4 ~ and H ofer's Zoo /ogische Garten (1993) 49 -instructive because the contrast between the respec tive sets of images is star k, and also because that contrast belongs to the shift from a black-and-white street photography esthctic, by t969 ente ring a critical phase, to the mor e auste re and deliberate attitude keyed to effects of exclusion that I have been examin ing in this chapter (indeed Ho fer's zoo photographs hard ly q ualify as street photography in any sense). instead of Winogrand 's unexpect ed a nd often hum orou s juxta positions of onlookers and a nima ls, his tilted ground planes suggest ive of his own impul sive movem ent through the scene, and the overall impression his photographs convey of having been taken on the fly and for the most part close up (if not to rhe an imals at least to the perso ns looking at them), H ofer's

themas demand. candida hoter, hirosh1 sugimoto. and thomas st1uth


9 demand, hofer, and others T







Recent works on Deman d incl ude: Thomns Dem and: Pho tography, exh. cat ., with an essay by Ralph Rugo ff and a sro ry by Jul ia Fran ck (Bregenz, 100 4); Roxa na Marcoci, Thomas Demand , ex h. cat., with a sho rt story by Jeffrey Eugcnides (Ne w York, 2.005); and Th omas Dcmnnd, exh. ca r., with an essay by Beatriz Co lomina and a conversa tion berween Alexander KJuge and Th o ma s Demand (London, 1006). Dean Sobel, " Th omas Demand : Th e Basic Facts," in Th omas Demand , exh . cat . (Amsrerdam and Aspen , 2.0012.), n.p . Purth er references co this essay will be in par enth eses in th e texr. 1Vhlr,coci, " Paper Moon," in Marcod , TIJomas Demand, pp. 9-10. Furrher page referenc es to thi s essay will be in par enth eses in the texr. Sec e.g. Ruedi Widmer , " Interview with Th omas Dema nd : Building the Scene of the Crime ," Camera Austria lnt emll · tional, no. 66 Uuly t999}: 10. Th e releva nt exchange reads: Widmer: " Lee's begin ac the beginning. To begtn wirh it is an everyday place. Somethin g happens ... " Demand:" ... and thi s is some thing char is rabooed or condem n ed in society .. . ,. Widmer: ~ ... an act .. . ~ Demand: " ... exac tly. an act. And th is act is ex-pelled from its everyday contexr because it doesn't belong th ere. Becau se it produces somethi ng that influences sociery; because ir is beyond the bounds of th e general run of even rs." Widmer: ''Th en alon g co mes so meone and rak es a pictur e.•· And further on ( 1 1 ): Widmer: " Th e way you see things is som etim es referred LO as like a ·derecrive.' Whar d oes char mean? " For Dcmand's a nswer see his remark s abour Corridor, cited in the text bdow. Furth er pag e references to Widmer's inrerview will be in p:1renthcses in rhe text. For Lnrs Lerup, coo, ''Dem,rnd 's photographs often appear ... ns " reconstru ctio n of a crime scene (for examp le, Office of r995). Bur these arc scenes devoid of a ll criminnl poraphcma lia, human imprints, and accretions the y co ntain on ly suggestive residue. Demand 's scenes have been verced and san.icized ro such a degree that the crime irself is only apprecinb le in its most hein o us essence" (" Demand' s Demand ," in Thomas Dema11d [Amsterdam and Aspen!, n.p. ). See Jan Philipp Reem rsma, /11 the Cellar, trans . Carol Brown Janeway (New York, t 999), for a gripping account of th e kidnapping and his H days in captivity . Sohel writes: "Poll, like m;my of Dema nd's works, has the Look of the ahermath of a cr ime sce ne (which the accual loca tion perhaps wa~ - according to some repons, foul pla )', fro m participants such as th e ca nd ida tes' advisors and the Florida Secretar y of Sta te, ma y ha ve had an effecr on d1e recount }'' ("Thomas Demand: Th e Basic Faces." n.p. ). More recently, Demand exhibit ed at rhe Scr penrine Gallery, Lo ndon in Summer .z.006, fi,,c phocographs making a compound piece ca lled Tavern (1006), based on " an incident at a small bar opposite the railwa)' sration in Burbach , a disrricr of Saarbriickcn, where a littl e boy ... wa s suffocared wirh a cush_ion and rhcn dispo sed of in a bin -liner. His step-







sister wa s the culprir " (Thomas Demand in "A Co nvcrsa· tion between Alexander Kluge a nd Thomas Demand,'' in Thomas Demand flondonl , p. 85). Fran~ois Quinton, " TI1cre is no Inn ocent Roo m, .. Thomas Demnnd , cxh. car. (Paris , 2.000), p. 52.. Further pnge references co thi s interview will be in parcnth e~es in the text. As Marcoci writes: " despite their illusionism , Demand 's stag ed tableaux revea l the mechanism s of their making. Minu te imperfectio ns - a pencil mark here, an exposed edge ther e, a wrinkl e in rhe paper - arc deliberat ely lefr visible . Th e lack of deraiJ ,,nd cool, uniform lightin g CX"posethe whole as a co nstrucrion. Once the>' have been ph ocograp hed, the mod els are destroyed. The resulting picrur es are convinc· ingly real and strangel y artificial" (''Paper Moon," 10). Yilma z Dziewio r, .. A Thousand Words: Th oma s Demand Talks About ' Po ll,'" Artfomm , vo l. 39 (May 2.001): 1.-15. Par vecn Adams, " Demand wirhour Desire: Th e Work of Thomas Dem and ," Portfolio: Contemporary Photography in Britain, no. 38 (Decembe r 200 3): 20. She also suggests chat the objects in Deman d 's photographs, because plainly not o bjects of desire, arc "objects as tbe )' arc, or at least as near 10 rhem as it is pos.sible ro be" (ibid., slightl y recast in the plural) . Thi s seems wrong. Regis Durnnd, ..Tra cings," in Thomas Demand (Paris), p. 1!7. See Rosa lind £. Krau ss, "N ote s on the Index: Part r," The Originality of the A11a11t-Garde111ulOther i\fodemist Mytl,s (Ca mbridg e, Ma ss., and London , 1985) , p. 203; see also ch. 6 n. 32. above. The terms icon and index ore derived fro m the wr itings of Charles Sand ers Peirce; Krauss refers to C. S. Peirce, " Logic as Semiotic: The Theory of Signs," l'/Ji/osophic Writings of l'eirce (New York, -r955 }, p. ro 6. Nlorc rccentl)', Krau ss's views, alon g with her use of Peirce, have been criti cized by Joel Snyder in "Pointless, " in Jam es Elkins, ed. Photography Th eory (Ne w York and London, 1007), pp. 369- 400. For Wolter Benn Michaels in "Photograph s and Fossils" (ibid., p. 431), how ever. responding ro Snyder and more broadl)' ro the questioning of rhe notion of ind ex icaliry as a mark er of the photograp hic elsewhere in Elkins's vo lum e, " indexicalicy- if only in the form of a prob lem - is central to both rhe medium specificity of the photograph and, at lcasr in the lasr 2.0 years, co what Abigai l Solomon- Godeau calls rhe othe r topic of interesr ond controve rsy in this volum e, 'phocograph y's relation ro art historic.11discourse."' Michaels adds in a note: "lndex · icaliry is [centra l to the medium specificity of tbe photograph, etc.I , but Peirce probably is not. We ought to discon nect the claim that rhc disrin ctivc causal connecrion ber.vcen rhe referent o f a photo gra ph and the phot ogra ph irself is impomrnt ro the 1heory of photography from the claim that Peirce's semiotics is similarl y imp orrant. The latter claim might be true but it doesn't follow from the former'' (p. 448 ). I shall hav e more ro say nbour M.ichacls's essay in the Conclusion ro this book . See Michae l Fried, "Art nnd Obj ccthoocl" (191>7), in idem, Art and Obiecthoo d: Essnys a11d Ru11i e1us (Chicago and Londo n, 1998), pp. 148-7i . Furth er page references ro this essay will be in parenthe ses in the tex t. See alsidem,


to pages

261 - 270


"Shape as Form: Frank Srcll:1's Eccentric Polygons., ( 1966}, pp. 77-9, and '' An lmroducrion ro my Art Criticism," esp. pp. 40-47. 14 Sec Robert Morris, "No res on Sculprure, Porr 2," in idem, Co11ti1111 011sProject Altered Daily: The \Y/riti11gs of Robert 18 Morris (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1993), p. 15. Morris's r.:ssay originally appeared in Artfomm, vol. 5 19 (Occobcr 1966): 20-23. 15 "Ar r and Objecchood, ~ p. 153. Walter Benn Mich:icls comment~ on rhis srarement as follows: "The 'virrually' here is a lirtlc misleading because, as Fried goes on to say, although the ·object, nor the beholder, muse remain che cenrer or focus of rhe siruarion,' 'the situat ion itself belongs to the beholder - it is bis situation.' The presence of the beholder is structura l rnrher rhan emp irical, since without him there is no situatio n nnd therefore no litcra lisr arr. The point here is nor a kind of general idealism, nor the idea that the obiecr comes inro existence only when the beho lder encounrers it and thercforr th:lf rhcre is some sense in which he creates ir. Although this position will quickl)· emerge as cemral ro certa in forms of lirerary cheory, in Fried's account of Minimalism, the object exists on its own all right; what depends on thctricabl) ' involved with the concept of meaning, thar everything in Caro's art rhat is worth looking nr is in irs synrax Ifirst said br me in my 1963 introduction tO Caro's Whicechapcl exhibition! ... It is as though C:iro's sculprures essenti:1lizc meaningfulness as sue/, - as rhougb the possibility of meaning what wes:iy Md do alone makes his sculpture possible. All this, ir is hardly necessary to add, makes Caro's art a fountainh ead of anriliteralisr and :mrirheatrical sensibility" ("Art and Objecr hood ,'' pp. , 61-2, emphasis in original). r7 From "Art ,md Objecthood'': "the beholder [of a mini111alisr/lireralist work] know s himself to srand in an inderermi11:1re,open-ended - and unexacting- relation as sub;ect ro the imp:1ssive ohjecr on rhe waU or floor" ( 15 5). Tht onrirhesis between modernise determinacy and minimal- 21


notes to pages 270-277

ist/lireralisr (also posrmodernisr) indeterminac y is a central theme in Jennifer Ashton, From Modernism to Postmodernism. America11 Poetry a11d Theory in tin• Tiveutieth Century (Camb ridge and New York. 2005). ~ A Conversation between Ale_xander Kluge and Thomas Demand," p. 56. See John Berger and Jean Mohr, Another Way of Tctli11g (New York. 1982), p. 90. The previous sentences read: "The professional photographer tries, when raking a photograph , to choose an instant wl1ich will persuade the public viewer ro lend ir :111appropriate past ,ind future. l11e phorographer's imclligem:c or his empat hy wirh rhe subject definc.:sfor him what is appropriate. Yer unlike che storyteller or painter or accor, the phorngrapher only makes. in any one photograph, a single co11 sti111r ive choice: che choice of rhe insmnt ro br photographed. l11e photograph, compared wirh other means of communicat ion, is rhcrefore weak in inrenrionaliry" (pp. 89-90, emphasis in original). The reader will probably feel, justifiably in my view, char a phoroi,,rnpher makes far more than just one consrirurive choice in rhc act of raking a picture: he or she selecrs a subject, chooses a distance and a point of view, makes adjustmenrs for rhe lighting, often changing the speed or the opening of the shurrer, ere. (In fact we should prohab ly St(lrt further back with rhc selection of the camera and film.) Yer Berger's basic rhesis, char dlere is somcrhing in the narurc of a photograph that escapes total determination by the phot ograp he1; can still be mainrnincd. Berger's remark is cited and discussed by Walter Benn Michaels in "Accion and Accident: Photograph y and Writing," in ,dem, Tbe Gold Standard and the J.ogic of Naturalism (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London, r987), pp. 1.36-8. Sec a lso Michaels's essay " Phorographs and fossils, •· in Photography Tbeory, and rhe pages on photography (largely on the work of James Welling) in Tl,e Slwpe of tl,e Signifier, pp. 95-105. Michac.:ls, "Acrion and Accidenr,'' p. 1. 30. The phrase occurs in a sentence dealing with the question as to wherher or not Lily Barr in Edith Wharton's The Ho11seof Mirth meant ro kill herself when she rook a far:il overdose of chloral. '"Ir seems misraken, though, co say either that she did or that she didn't," Michaels write~. "for the whole thrust of the novel has been to insist on rhe economic, erotic, and moral charm of actions marked by an irreducible discrepancy between intention and effect." 1\1ichacls's point is rhar the same discrepancy is basic ro rhe roughl>· conremporary discourse of photograph y. Cf. Diane Arbus's remacks, quoted and discussed in Ch. 7: ''Everybody has that thing where they need to look one way bur they come our looking another wa)' and that's what people observe .... Our whole guise is like giving 3 sign to the world to think of us in a cerrnin way bur there's a point between what you wanr people ro know about you and what you can"t help people knowing about you. And l'hat has to rhis in part through empha si;ring th,; rr larions photog raph y has with u thr r picture -making arts, mainly painring and the cinema, in which the factual claim has always het:n played with in a ~ubrle, learned a nd ,oph isticatt:J way. This was what r thought of as a mimt:sis of the orher arts, somet hing rlrnr c from Dasein ,1s Being-wi1h. One belongs 10 rhc ct•s their power .... Tlte ·who' is Orhers otteself and enha11 not this one, nor thar one, nor oneself, nor some peop le, and nor the sum ot rhcm all. The 'who' is thc neurer, tht' ·0111'' /das Man/" ( 164 ). ~ee :ilso Marrin I leidegger, Being @d Time. trans. Ju:tn Stambaugh (Alhany, N. Y., 1 ~96): "T he everyday possihiliries of being of Da-sein are at rhe disposal 11f rhe whims t>f the ntht:r~. These nrhers an: nor definite others. On the contrary, any urht:r can represent rhem. What is J ecisive is only the inconspicuous duminarion bv nthcrs that Da-sein as being-with has a lready taken over una1vart:s. One bd ,1ngs tn the others oneself, and enrrenches their power.... Th e w ho is nm this one and not rhat one, nor oneself .11 1d nor S\ 11l1C a nJ nor the sum nf them all. rhe 'wh ,1' is rhe neuter, the they" (pp. 111:!-19). All emphases in qunrntinn s from Heidegger are in the original rcxr. Scamb.wgh, p. u.,: ~The self of everyda)' Do-sein is the tlu:y-self which we distinguish from the worlJ ." Stambaugh, p. 1! 1: "Bur since rhe phenomenon of world irself passed over in rhis absorption in rhc world, ir is replaced hy objective presence in rhe world, by rhings... !:.tarnhaugh, p. 1!.!: '' 11 itself. in irs rvay day kind of being, is wha t inirially missc~ irself and covers itself over.'' !:.ramhaugh, p. 164: "This term, which doe~ m )t expn.:ssany negarive value judi;ment, mrans that Da-se,n i~ initLally and for rhc mosr together with the 'wo rld' th:u it tokes care of. This abso rption in ... mo~tly hab rhe char:icter nf being lost in rhe publicness of the the)•, As an aur benric p0tencialiry for being a ,el f, Da-sei,1 has initially alway~ a lready fallen away from ir~elf and fallen prey ro the 'wor ld.' railing prey to the 'we)rld' means being absorbed in bcing-wirh-oneano thc:r as it ib guided hy idle ra.1lk,curiosity. and amb iguity. What we ..:3lled the inaurhenricicy nf Da-sein may now be defined more rr ccisely through rhe interpretation oi falling prey." Heidcgga's sentence (a rhetorical question) ,11 .:tunlly reads: '·What if it is only in the anricipatiott of dearh rhnt rrsn luteness, as Dasein's ,mtlnmtic rrnrh, has reachetl rhe .111the 11tic certainty which belongs to it?" Stamha 11gh, p. 2.80: '"Wha1 if resolurencss, as the a11t/J e11tic rrurh of

Dn-scin, reached rhe ct•rt.imty uut/Jem1ca//y {,e/.,11~111/!. ti) 11 0111)in rhe :rnricipation of J enth?" 15 See Dreyfus and .IJ_neRubin, "Kierkegt1ard, Division 11, .111J Later Heidegger," tn Dre},fus, 8ei11g-111-th e-Wnrld, p. J 2.2.: .. For Heidegger, 1he rra11sformario11to a urhenricity signals a rr.1nsform.irion in rhc form of my everyday activity, leaving rhe w11t1'11/ unchanged. I e11act my aurhenticity in all my ,1hsorbccl involved activity... In a n intporrant es~ay, Nancy ~. ~trucver argues rhat 1leidegger's lectures of tbe St1mmrr semester of 1924, "C ru11dbcgriffe cler ariswtc lishchen Pl11losoph1r," in~isr rhat "lifo is nor something ·wild, J eep, a nJ 1nysrical' la quvtat ion from Heidegger!, but a plenum of capac ities :ind acrions hcsr exposed, it seems, by rhetoric" ("Alhag lichkcir, 1imefu lness, m rhe Heideggerian Program," in D. Gross and A. Kt>mmann, eds., Heidegger and IU11c• t11ricIAlhany, N.Y., !.0051: 106). For Heidegger 31 chat moment, she contends, basing h imself nn Aristotle, rheroric meant studying ''l.1nguage as ir lives in Alltiiglicbkeit. Allraglichkeit is the viral rime dimension of Dasein '' ( 1 oh) . As she also puts it, "A llriiglicbkeir define~ everydayness nm ,is 'o rdinnr)" but as 'ti mefulness,' the timely charac ter of practical life: it tlesignates the continuous, if intermittent, repetitious tlemands of dai ly life, its ircrahility" ( 113). And: "in this pariicu la r lecrure series I leidegger a ttempts to recover a Greek rheroric as a n expla narnr y mode for hearing, for 1/\rismtlc'sl Rhetoric describes rite process of formation and reception of cndoxa. Since ir is rhc case chat ·das legei11lisrl die Cirundbcsrimmung drs Daseins selbst in dt'r k11nkrereWeise seines ~eins in seiner Allti:iglich keit,' and rhat rhemric is 'die Auslc.:g ung des kon kreten Dasrins, die I lermeneurik J es Daseins selbsr,' rhetoric thus focuses properly on a ll the discursive possibilities subsisting in tht 'Allti:iglichkeir J es Oast:ins.' Therefore::, a prime value of the rhetoric:tl program i~ timdu lness" (1 1 ;) . All this is lO say that the concept of 1\//tiiglichkeit in rhe lccrures on Aristotle wholly lacks the "negarivr" connotations that partly attach to it in Being and Ti111e. , 6 Dreyfus and Rubin, "Kierkegaa rd, Division 11, anJ Later f leidegger," p. 3 1 7. r 7 Robert B. Pippin, " 'Th e Age of Cons ummate Mt·aninglessnt:s~': I leidtgge r," in Moder111smas a l'hilo sophirn / Prc1blem: O n the D1ssat1sfactuJ1Ls of £urripea11 High C11lt11r c (OxforJ and MalJt::n, Mas~., 19!:H ), p. 142.. Pippin conrinues: This in rurn might have made possible a general view 1>f human tran scendence, rhe ability m tran scend or negate one's thrown siruatio n, which is not tied so abstractly w the Hrtdeggrrian norion of possibility (resolute a..:rion or 'hurling' oneself intu rhe historica l 'a by~s'), and so could have lecl to a richer and more::concrete a nalysis uf 1hc nngi n :mJ fare of mnderniry. In partic ula r, such il view. d1aL one i.-,never simply abst,rbed in a world, ur a kind of vicrim of historical prcscnci.ng, bur ab~orbcd in ::i p:.irricul,1r way that depends nn a ccn a ir1self-cc,nstrual, cnulJ have formed the basis of a view of modern rechnology mo re nuan..:ed and less hege-

1Hltes ro pages 6•1-66


monic rhan Heidegger\. That is, from rht.' Hegelian poi111 of view I am suggesting, it would nevt!r be possible ro spt:.lk ,irnr,ly nf ·rhe' technolo~ical event or enframing. Then, cou ld be no such thing as, simply, 'rC'chnult1gy;o r Maclumschu(t, hut only differing, historically situated, i.4 of human power and limisocially rnedi::ned C'XpericncC's talion, a technology approprrare to a C· managed to apply the soap more chan once in a ses~ion. Once the sevt:11miuutes had t'lapsed, I reseLche .:tu (M::ilmo, wt:Jen, 1996), p. 104. Further page reference~ to graphy jNew York, 1997 1, p. 97). "T he size t1f these porrhi, c::onver~ationwill be in parentheses in the text. traits is not incidental bULintrinsic- a n essential stylistic "Reality Sn Real !r's Unrecognizab le,'' conversation property," Malcolm also observes, a statement that might between Thomas Wulffen and Thomas Ruff, in ibid., p. 97_ also be applied to Ruff's work, bur she at once proceeds to Regis Durand, "The Secular Imagery n( Thoma, Ruff," in co ntra st Avedon's portraits with contemporaneous phmo Thomas Ru((, exh. cat. (Paris, J99 7), p. -r5. Furtl1t'r page rea list painting, which she sees as having provided ''borh referem:es to this essay will be in parentheses in the text. the ~ancrion and a satiric occasion" for his images (98) . Durand contrasrs Ruff' s arr in this regard with 011 e implicWhereas photorealisr painting 1.iboriously imitates rhe look itly based on the model of "absorption in rhe represented of photography, Avedon ''jusr by squeezing the bulb of a scene (to ust' Michael rried's term). TI11smeans assuming big camera anJ spending a few hundred bucks ar Moderthat the .scene has some kind of Jeprh, which can be spatial nage . . . can du in a day what it wou lc:.Itake a painter (rhe illusion of fore-, middle-, and background), narratwc months co achieve" (98). She conc ludes: "Avedon ld1erebyl (recoun1ing various 'incidenrs' which take place in the scene su·ips away photography's pretension to being an art and a or traverse ir), or finally l,istnric (involving a play of relacraft, saying that it is nothing bur an idea, a serit:s of pro tions wirh pn :exisring models, references, quotations, etc.)" posals about picture-raking. The show at the Met illustrates (p. r 5, emphasis in original)- As he rightly says: ''Now, this idea of phorograp hy as a mental medium, more like Thomas Ruff's phorographs seem to undercut all these math and chess than painting and drawing, and trimodels of rhe internal and external relations of the image" umphant ly 'proves' it" (98-9). Such a reading implicitly (ibid.). links Avedon's large-scale portraits tu rhe (earlier) "conAr one pnmt this led ro the charge thaL Ruff's porttaits had cep1ual.. moment in photography later anal>•zed by Wall in somethi n~ in common with the art of Socialist Realism or "Marks of Indifference," rather than ro rhc emerging indeed Nazism. As Ruff remarks to M,mhias Winzen: " I tableau form. Moreover, in my opinio n - Ma lcolm mighr was prt:try annoyed. Bur then I thougl1Lto myself: Okay, if disagree - the notion of an engagement with photorealis1 they thi nk I'm a nt'.o-Nazi, rhen I'll do portrai ts w ith sopainting has 110 direct relevance to rhC'developments disca lled 'Aryan' eyes, true -blue. After I did that, rhe critics cussed in this book. sropped talking about Na1.ism, instead l w:.is pigeonholed 17 From the vast literarurc on faces and facial expression, l in terms uf generic enginct:ring.... " ( 1oo). (The blue eyes mention on ly Georg Simmers short, brilliant ''Thr Aesrhetic were added digitally to portrairs he had aJready done and Significance of the Face," in Kure H. Wt,lff, ed., Georg the color itself was enhance d. ) Ruff's poim seems co have Si111mel.r858-19i8: A Collection of Essays. with Tm11slabeen to cal l his critics· bluff, as if ro say: if you want co see tio11sand a Bibliography (Columbus, O h., 1959), pp. 276rea l Aryans, here they are - and at rhe same time ro insi~r 81. My attention was drawn to this esS3) ' by James T. Siegel, that no faces like those ever existed, rhat the manipulated "Georg Simmel Reappears: ·The Aestheric Significance of portraits were no longc::r actual porrrairs, rhnt the phC> the Face-," Diacritics, vol. 29 (SummC'r 1999): 100- 1J· tograp hs themselves were non-photographs, as he put it ro 1 !! Gertrude Stein, "Picrnres," Lect11res111 America ( ry .35; Win:i.en in "Mo nument to the Unknown Photographer," Boston, r957), p. 79. conversation berween Matthias Winzen and Thomas Ruff, 19 As Ruff says in conversatio n with Winzen: " 111phl)tograin Thomas R11//(Ma lmo ), p. 100 . phy, you a lways have hoth the medium and the depicre::d Ruff: "The fact that the portraits have taken on thl! charsubject at the same timl'" (p. 100). acter of passport phr>rographs bas to do wir_hrhe model of 1.0 Jn effect Ruff used a picrure generating machine, rhe rhe passport photograph. The person is identified hy society Mino lta Mont~1geUnit. to combine two of his portrait ph,,via the passport photograph" ("Reality so Real Ir's Unrcctographs into a new one and rhcn made silkscreens of the ognizahlc," p. 97). See also "Mo nument to rhe Unknown result ( Liebermann, "An nora red Catalogue Raisonne," Photographer," where Ruff remarks that he "made the big, p. 2.31 ) . Sec Ruff's discussion of the Altered Portraits beautiful passport phoros to get beyond the usefulness for with Cat herine Hurzeler, "Interview with Thomas Ruff," in idt:ntilication" (p. 99). Thomas Ruf( (Ma lmo), p. 109. An interesting contrast is with the roughly contempora1r In fact, an information sheet accompanying a show of nt'w neous porrrait work of Richard Avedon, in particu lar with wo rk b)' Ruff at the David Zwirner G:illery 111New York d

notes to pages 146· 154



:?.3 24




Ciry in November 2.00- explic:irly compare~ the plwtn grapher·s enla rgeJ-pix.: 1 photographs w Impressionism. " Much likt: Irnpres~1onist paimings, thcse photographs require th.>· 2.9 E.g. Michel Gauthie r: '•Ii y a cntrc la photograp hie c..le : forme de distance., une monicrc de C.ursky er scs objers u11C distanciacinn. Le point de vue adopte n'apparri em pas a la rcfalice phmographiee. Pour rcprcndrc la tenninokigie de C.cnette, 011 pourrait dire quc, 11111/alis 1111ua11d1s, c'esr un poim de vue ·heterc1-diegetiq111!:' le photographc n'e~l pas en inreraction avcc cc qu'il photographic, ii n'est pas l'un des personnages du monc..lequ'i l vise'' (''Vues imprenahlt:s sur readymades: La phot ogra r,hie scl,111Andreas Gu rsky," Les cahiers du 11111s ec 11atir111al d'art 111odenu :, no. 67 [Spring •99':II: ~2.). 10 Less cogend) '· Ga la&si\ lasr par;igraph reads: "Gurskfs world, of course, is an invention. Pare of irs authority rrscs upon the 1magin;:irio11and skill with which the anise has drp loyed his creative license. The mher pa rt rl'~ts upon cht' rccognirion tha t the work eli..:icsfrom the very ohsc::rversir so reso lutely exc lt1des. It is Gursk),'s fiction, bm it is mar wor ld" (41 ). '\J Rupt:rt Pfob, ..Per..:rptio11and Communicatio n: Thoughts ,)n New Motifs by Anassim.


·'Ma ybe the first two family portraits tbar I rook were made from a very personal incentive, when I was staying with friends in Japan, and then following chat, a three-week 5tay in Scorland. On the last Jay l rook a phomgraph of the family as a personal memory'' (Scruth to Mark Gisbourne, "Slruch, " p. 7 ). 1 1 He adds: "l'iut rhe problem of rhe subject exists for photography in the same way i1 docs for painting." See also Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, "Portraits/Genre: Thomas Strutl1," in Tlm111c1s Stmth : Portraits (Munich, 1997), pp. t ,0-62., and the discussion of Buchloh's views in Ann Goldstein, '' Pockets of Self-Retlecrion," in Thomas Stmth 19-7-200.l, pp. I 7~ 1 • 1_:. Walter Benj.1mi11, "Little Hisrory of Ph,Jtography" (191 1), trans. Edmund Jephcott and Kingsley Shorter, vol. '.! of Selected Writings, 4 vols., trans. Rodney Livingsto11cet al., ed . Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, and Gary ~mith (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1999), p. 5 14. r 3 Buchloh replies: "But these cri teria are not eas ily identifiable. They are in part irrationa l, subconscious or aesthetic." Struth: '' Well perhaps, that's true. Of i.:uurse they are." , 4 Masanori [chikawa, " Resisting lnJi ffcrence," in Thomas Stmth - My Portrait, ex h. cat. (Tokyo and Kyoto, 2000), n.p. 15 Pcrer Schjeldahl, ·'Epiphany," Parkett, no. 51 (1997): 1. Where its rirle and dare are given as l.itlle Italy. Ne1t1York ( 1 9,4).

"Open Clry." p. , ~with I-ran i11the Crowd: The Uneasy Srreets Leibowitt," in The Mt111 of Gt1rry 'iXfi1111gra11d (~an Francisco, 1y99 ), p. 14, ospecific. This works better when I use young people as subjects. Publicity abo uses models who are pretty neutra l, and not o nly because it cargets yo1111g peop le. Thar's how 'pub lic images' work: open images which stand for a lor ()f other images anti prop le, which can rcOecr a lor of Jifferent pro jection s as well. On the orher hand, I also choose my subjecrs by simple human inrcresr. It was surprising though when I saw the first picrnre, rakcn in Oxford Strt:t:t ILondon, for :1 projecr commissioned by the Tate Gallt:ryJ and they were al must representative of the Jemograp hi~ nf this shopping mile. Hur r wouldn ' t mind if the pictures didn'r reflect reality in the ·politically cocrt'ct way' -1 am nut only miking about reality, ir'$ my persona l fiction of evrryday lift! as well" (''The C..rowd.'' Creative Camera, no. H7 I 1997 1: 35 ).

f"\Otes to pages



19 The crucial passage reads: "lllr is another narure whid1 speak~ tj1.1ct lmnd: l:.ssays and Reuicws (Chicago nnd London, 19~8), pp. 14~-7:z.. Further page references ro rhis essay will be in pnrenrheses in Lhe text. See also ,r/1.1111,

no tes to pages 261-270



.. Shape .1, I orm: hank licellJ ·s Ecccntm. Polygon,·· ( 1•160). pp. 77-9toW :.ign,ficance on onC' another prcrm:ly by virtue of their j11xrapmit1011: It is in this sense. a sense 111cxtric.1bly involved wirh the concept of meaning. chat everything in Ca ro 's arr that" \Vorth loo king ,iris ,nit~ syntax Jfir,t said by me in m~ , 963 inrrodm:rio11 to Caro·~ \Xlhitechapcl ex hihirionl ... h i~ as though Caro's ~culpturi!!, es~enci.llize mcanmgfulness .1s such - .1s rho111,:h the po)sibilit) nf meaninl! ,vht1t we sar a11ddo a/o11emakt', hi~ sculp tur e possible_ All th b, it is h,trdl y necessary to ,Hid, 1m1kc, Cn ro's list a11d antirhea crical ~cnsiJrt a fount:tinhead of ,1111ilirera h1lit}•· ('· J\1t :tnd Ob1ectho11d," pp. 1I\ 1-1., emph,1s1s in origmal). 1-=rom"Art Jnd Objccth11od": "the hehn lder fof a minimal1\t/literali,.1 work I knows him,elf ro \t.1nd in an ,ndctcrmin.:ite, opl'll · cndcd - and une'Caccin~ - rC'l:irion as s11bwctto the impJs s,vc object on the wall or lloor- ( 1H). The .1mirhcs1\ between nmdt'rni~t Jctt'r111111.1q · .11111m1111mal-


no10:::slo pages '270-277

1,r/lirt'rall\t (,11~0p(htmodcrni,r) 111dctcrm111acr" .1 ccntrJI theme in Jennifer A,hton. /-,01111\lmler111s111In P11st11111demis111 . A111i'rtc.111 flntJtry ,111dTl,cory m tl.tt• 111'e11t1etl, (C:im bridgc Jnd New Ynrk, !00 1 ). Ce11t11ry 1!l -A Convcr,,ttion ht ' 5tart further hai:k \\ irh till' 5cfecrion of the cam er J .111dfilm.) Yet Bergl•r's basic th esis, thar then: i, ~omethin g 111the nature of J photograph rhat escapes total d ercrininarion by the phmogr.1pher, can sti ll be maintai111ed. lkrger·s remark ,, ~·,red :tnd discu,sec.l b} Walter Benn M1cl1Jel~ in "Action .111dAcridcnr: Phmography and Writing.~ 111idem, a11dLiu: Logic of N11111mlism( Berkeley, The GtJ!dS11111dard Los Angele,, a nd Lon dlln , 1987), pp. 236,-8. 'oee a lso ,\1ichacls\ essar ··Ph orograpbs and rossils,'' in Plmtogr,ipl,y Tlu:on•, and the pages on photograph) (large!) · on the work ot Jam e~ Welling) in The !:,/,11/11! of the Signifier, pp. 95-1 05 . !O f\1ichaels, "Action anJ Accident," p. !JO. fhe phrase occurs in a \entence dealing with che question as to whether or not I.ii> Bart 111EJith Wh.1rron's The ll1111se,,( Mtrth meant ro kill herself when she rook ., forall ovcrdnse nf c.:hloral. " It Mc:emsmisrnken, though, m 5ay either that she did or that ~he didn't," Michaels writes. "to r rhe whole rhrusr of the novel h.1s been re, 1ns1M on the econon11c, crmic . anJ moral chJrm nf acnons 1113,rkcd by an irreducible discrcpam:y between inren tinn and effct:t. " Mi.:hae l~\ point is th,11 the sa me di&crc:pancy is bastl' to the rnughl) con temporary di~course of phorography. Cf. Diane Arbu,.·s remarks, quoted ,md di~cu~wd in Ch. -: "Fvcrybody has thJt dung where they need ro look one way bur they rnmr out lookin g anmher wrty ..ind that's what people ohsen e .... Our whole gui~e is like giving a &ign to the \\'(1rld ro rl11nk of us 111a certain way but rhere'~ a point between wh.11 you wanr people ro know .,bou r you and what you can' t help people knowing ,1bolll ),Ou. /\nd that hns to do with what I've always called the gap hi;rwecn intention .rnd effect" (Dia11t•Arbus: A11Aperture Mo110gr.ipl, I 'cw York. 197 2.J, pp. 1-i ). 11 Qumed in Dennis Longwell. ed .. " ,\1onkevs ~lake che

Problem \l ore Difficult: A Colb.:uve Interview with reduce the film's scnsitivat) to well below . 'That's like rhe speed of 19th-century film, when one /1!:>A phorography was inveured,' he- exp lains. When satistied \l'ith the light and composition, he trippt:d the sh utt er and waited one and a ha lf hours for the seascape image to burn it~elf onto the film" (" I lirnshi Sugimoro ut the GalJery Koyanagi,·• hrrp://www.assemblyla nguage.com/reviews/ Sugimoto. hrinl ). Co11tncls S11gi111nto. The French reads: "IDiesque l'on commence a entrcr dans les derails de l'eau, n n s·y noie. ~ Cw 1111ctsS11gi111nto. Twenty -tivc of the~e photo~ have been gathered in Thomas Strut h, New Pictures from Paradise (M1111ich,!00.1.). Rei Masuda, "A Place for Lnnking: The Photogra phs by Thomas truth ," in Thnmns Stmth: My l'nrtrnit, exh. c;ir. (Tokyo and Kyoto, 2.000), n.p. Daniel .Birnbaum, "Paradise Refrained," /\rtfrm1111, vol. 40 (May 200.1.): 149. Hans Rud o lf Reust , ·'A Thousand Words: Th omas Struth Talks about hi~ ·Paradise' Series," ibid: 1~ 1. Further page references to this article will he in parentheses in the text. Reusr comments: ''Faced with a rericenr image of undifforentia rcd foliage, the viewer's thoughrs havi: nowhere to rurn &:.iveinward. ln rlwse phorographs, $trut h encoume rs the limits of a nondiscursivc photography that de-emp hasizes it~ specifil' objec r thr oug h the motif " (i/1id.) . Garry Winogr:rnd, The A11i111n ls, with an Afterword hy Jo hn S1.arkowski ( 1969: Nt'w York, 100 4 ). Ca ndida H ofe r, Zoolngische Ciirten (Mu nich, 199, ).

notes to pages 29,, -.3116


Berl,er: Hii11ser1111dJf.,l/cn (Frankfurt -am-Mam, 11;191. ), 1! p. 1.6. 6 Lange, 1b1d.,p . .1,. 'ihe connnus:"The adjusrnb1liry of the 13 camera (lilm and lc:ru.carrier!, can be alignt:d dosel> ro each rnher) cnsur~ th:n ;ill rh" lanesat the lens level and the m(1tif level remain p:1rallel. Thus, vertical lines can he kept paralld ... " For more derailed anformanon Jbout camera~ and lilm see Lange, FJerndand / Iii/a Beclm, pp. ;er:; 1. '·Bernd and Hilla Becher hnth feel commirted in equal degree to the ohj,·cts on which they focus. They do nm divide rhe labour up berwccn rhem in rhe claenn:ill>docs everything- be it ~dcccmg the motif, producing the photogrnph, or preparing rhe picture\ final presentation" (Lange, ... Reducing Objects,"' p. :.4). 14 !l Lange, i/1id., p . .17. Bernd Bl'·" ("The Bt•chers' lndu~rrial Le=-.it:on,''p. 94). In the inten•iew proper, Ziegler: ''When was your sysrem, your working proces~. fully in place?" Bernd Becher: "Whe·n we decided cm the typologies in sers of nine. Previously \\l' h:id had thour work?" Bernd Becher: ..They are indecu JII winding mwers, hue there are r)•pes stand ing side by side rh11tare nor really •,imiktr ro each orher. This nnl', for example, doesn't belong. ro rhe series.

.. .'' Hilla Becher: "Look, here is a type alre3d) ~ysrem· I lcim - urhert Jo..:ks, in I.Jngc, Bernd ,111dHilla Becher, atized. All winding wwerlitrle ones with the 'hats,· w1rh rhr ,y~tem. h', a central way in which our culrure has orgaOriental -looking supcrstrucnares - there ,lre none like rhar nized information and knowledge since rhc Enlightenment" in the Ruhr, they Jre definitely 1-rench.~ Ziegler: "When did ( 194). In the conversation w1rh Chevril·r, L.ingwuou, Jnd the concept of the rypolog)' comt from? Did you borrow ir. rruch 111A11ntl,erObjeclJvt1)•, Hilb Bechn says: "The prinor invent it for youN:lves? And when did you use the term ciple of the caralogue in rh,:,nJrural science~ is, f(lr u~ Jn for the first time?" Bcmd Becher: "As rlw subtitle for the a rtistic.:principle. Linne is a) much an artist a Ein)tein." hook A11011y111011s ~rnlpt11res:A Typology of Tub11ical Chevrier: ··There "a very srroni; idea heh1nd rhi,, which 1s Co11slmt:II011s.~ Ziegler: .. ~., the more similar the conthe 1dc:a of comparative 3n,1tom)'.~ I lilla Becher: ··Yes, srrucrions, the mme convincing the typologies?" Bernd absolutely. Mo~r of the rime you learn h) comparing rhrngs Becher: .. Exacrly. That wa& what we always srrovc for" ro orhl:r rhings you already know" (60). And in rh,: L.inge (99-1 00). Sec alsv the ~ecr1on emirled "Typologie Jnd interview originally in l11d11strwlLandsraflt'S the Bechc:rs Compar:mvc Juxtaposition~." in Lange, Bernd and /111/a jointly ~rare: ~ In morphology - the science of form, - there Becher, pp. ) 1-4. are wonderful an.1logies. The appro:ich begins with a r 5 Bernd and l lilla Recher, in Lynda Morris, "Introduction," description of the outer appc:ir.ince of 311animal or .1 plnnr, 111 Bernd and Hilla Becher, exh. car. (London, r974 ), n.p. everything that can be rccogni1ed un the outside, ~uch as Qumed b>· Ann Goldstein, .. Bernd and Hilla Becher," in size. color. and the relationship of rhe pans to rhc whole. Reco11s1deri11g the Oh1ect of Art: , 965-1117f, cxh. cat. ( l.os Then tht' inner organs are investigated, rhc: srrucnare or Angeles, 1 Y9 s-6), p. 79. :inatomy. Finally rhc developmcnra l hi;.10ry and questions 1'1 Kohler: "And then there is an clement in your pictures that (If function Jre looked mro, including rhe niche each ~pecies disringui~hes them from purely scit::ntificpictures. I 111eana fill; in irs environment and ir, own specific hiol) pe. If you ccrrain wit, a cerrnm humor rhat res11lt~from die individtransfer this mcrhod to orher areas, it is possible m invesual deviations from rhe ba~1c rype or object, from rht.> tigate any kind of subjecr. You t:.in say, tor rxamp le, that a rensilln between geomerric purism and :irchitecromc plJnS blast furnJce built in the lasr century rhar has been c,1nt1n· and the at times whirn~ic.ildni::arinns from chis plan which ually upd,tted and pipe system~ added on has undergnnt' have hecomc necessary for wha tever local rea~ons." stages just like an insect. In both cases at is po~sible 10 Bechers: "Yes, rim hears mentioning because!rhe humor is follow the develnprnc:nt hisrorically and comp:ire ir with a very important focror for u,. a certain subvers1vene~~c,r similar or dissimilar form;" (in l,3nge. Bemd ,111d Hilla recalcitrance of the people there who have ro come m pracBecher, p. 2.00). tical ri:nns with instructions issued from forrher up :ind then 1~ ln Lange, "lndustri:i l Landsc:ipc:s" interview, p. r99. give free reign ro their fantasy. Thi~ is lnrgely what form~ 2.0 ln ..M ll)ic of the Blast Furnaces," p. l 9,. the individual nature of d1e 11bjccr,and of course at also 21 See Michael Fried, ..Arr and Objecrhood, ~ 111 idem, Art t111d plays a part in our decision 3\ to which objecrs ro ph(ltoOb1ectlmod: Essays and Ret•1ews (Chicago and London, Becher, pp. 190-9 1). grap h" (in Lange, Bemd mid f-li/111 1998), p. 156, where l associarc rhis my~rification with ,1 1Apropos the pracncc of photographing uhJl'Ctsfrom an elesense of anthropomorphism. "[Tlhe apparent hollowness uf vated vanrage point, Hilla Becher explains to K1'lhler th.11 mosr lueralist work - the qualir) of having an 111s1de-is doing so •·makes rhe objects comp:irahlc - as long a!, we almost blatantly anthropomorphic. It is. a, numerous com· st ick ro ir. Because iris really on ly when you have the ~ame menrator~ have rem:1rked approvingly, as though rhc work vantage point rhar you can lay the photo~ alc,ng,ide nne in question has an inner, even secret, life - an effect t har is another and realiL.ewhat they ha\'e in common, whac is sppeci.ili111porr.1m:etha t cliaracteri,tic, of 11 medium 4ua liry should he muc h 111,irl'common amo ng them than thv~e that dev1art' widely. Nn ,carisrician dreams of grouring herewgencou\ focr!>m rhc SJmc tahlt'; no more do I propose l, and 1he lake, are n,, 11~en~1cal prnrm without cud. So we have nt>thinit here hut .1 superficial :ilrernation, ,, hich srars fore\'cr "1rb111the srhere nf the finite. If we suppt•sc rhar we can libera1c Olm,clvcs from the finare by sreppmg ou1 mm rl1Jr infinirudc. rh " is in fact vnly a liher.uic,n through tlighr. And rhe J')ersonwho nees is n he finished?" H illa Be..:her: "No. h doesn·r work like thar. Jr is alw.i>~ in progre,s. \'(lhcn we photogr.iphed die coal tipples m Ph1laddphia, we did sci with )omc urgctK)' because it seemed tha r expe rience was finished, .md that rhc objec ts wou ld ~oon cease w exist. But n year later it rurncd mar that co.ii prices wem up hecause of thc oil crisis and ,o they started huilding new co.ii ripple~ one;" "hich wen• at least ,1~ 1nrer~ting a~ rhc c' making a kind of ferish nt rhe standmg-out uf "mrs· tCrtl)uS" particularity, falls into this rrap. "BaJ" 11bjecrhond i~ the result of :111 attempt ro get m "objccthnod" iN~lf as if d1recth .ind the cLiim that ,, har we get .1~ a re~ulr is an absrra-;tion is .1nmhcr way, l rhinJ..,tCIs:iy that it 1s thentril:al - ;i disp layed ohjecr-,uppos.:-dly-111-i rself is never ,1 true (compelling) object. (The Jiale.:ti..:.11 twi t rh,11t:ome~ in saying: the very arrempr to get ar the "cxpcrienlial" i111medi.icyof an obiec.:1-enco11nter mean~ we must mi~~ it i~ of a piec.:ewith rhc twist rhnc romes wirh the focr chat rrymg rn evoke the objecr a!>.such non conccprudll)' means 1r will elude u~ and hecomc a mere lliterali.stl .ihstraction.) The German original reads: True di,uncmess .is J particular i5 what Hegel calls I 1m:ell1e11, 111Jjvu.lu,1liry, and ~o 1salways a mediated parDas Kunsrwerk iq Jer Gcgen)t anJ ,ub specie acrern1· ticularity. The relevant nanw for such mediation in the t:His gcschcn; und Jab gutc Leben i~t Jie We11t sub specie Bechers' c::1>eis "typolog~ •· and so rhc philosophical aeternitaris gesehen. Dies i,r dcr Zu>:unmenhang zwi~que5rion become~ the ,ratu.s oi ~uch a type ag:11nstwhKh chcn Kunst und Ethik. rruc distinctness srnnds out. The Becbers ccnat nly Die gcwohn lichc lktrachtungsweise sieh1 dit· Gegen~ucccrt.l m ~hnwing rhar rhe background rype i> not ,1sub!>tande glerchsam aus ihre \,lirre. Jic Bcrrachrung ~ub 1ecnve framing, as if by alteration of ~uch framing ,imply ~pecie aerernitatis von ausscrhalb . hy a subjec.: 1, the narurc of the object JS individual wuuld So class \le ganzc Welt ,11, Hinrcrg rund ha ben. chunge. ("Wor lds" fire not like this, any more than they 1st es erwa read ing focuses on crucial par:igraph, from Edwards·~ The Great Christz,111Doctrmt• of Orig111alS111D1fe11ded, as quoreJ by rhc poet Jori e Graham for her own :inrithccicol, inion in Sugimoro'!> eascape~ l94--tave 40, 1 oo, 1 s 1, >40. >43-4 811rit1Iat Om,111 s 28 , 3.5 1

Uaguerrc, Loui!> Jac4uc~ MJnde 3-011.2, l),1sem: 1 lcidcggcr :ind Wall\ wor~ 48-9, 60, 64-6 0Jumier, H onore 100 [):iv id, facques -Lou1~ 2.8, 1o o de Cha,,cy, Eric 3 5611.2,, 1\14- 511.48 104, 10ciryscapes 2.7 6-81 Archiz,e 260 , 261 Barn 263, 26 J 13athn1u111 (/lea11/~111a gc) 2.61, 2.66, 1.67. .:.70 Ca111J1111g ·foh/e 26 1-2, 1.69 Cle,m11g26~. 2.75-1'., 2 -; Collectio112.l'i3, 1.65. 2., 5, z-,f, Co11stcllatio11 276 Comer 2.62. ComJ11r .z.61, 2.64, 265 DrcJ{tmglfo11111 262-3 Fsc.1lt1tor162 Kitchen 162. l.,1bor.itory 263 . 2., 5 , z--

1 1111•112.63

MuJel ~62. Office 1.61 P,t 263 l'od11,111 1.62. Pull 2.61., 273, z - 3

l ro


Sink 11 273-5, z-,./ Space 1m11/t1tor z.6, .\tm rcase 2.6l Studio 2.6, Tavern :;8511.Tt11111el 1.62 Derrida, facques 370- 7 111.2.9 Dcscarte\, Rene ,8 111. w d1Cor~·1,,, Ph1hp-Lon:a 2.4 0, 149 -, 9 , .,.,t, 152, r87, 188 and Bechers' wo rk 309, 3 19 " resrirution" 144-5, 339 tableaux and French painting 26-7, 34, roo, 152., 3--11-2 techno logy : Heidegger and Wall's work 59-62 theatricality , oo cinema a nd arr photography , 0-11, 1 3 and minimalism (litera lism) 270-71, 303. _,45-6 of portraiture 192-4, 338-9 and posing 40, 50, 2.2.1 Barthes's Camera Lucida on 107, 109, 111,194,214. 1.39-40, 338. 345-6 Strurh's Pergamon Museum picrures 1:,4-8 unconscious poses in diCorcia's work 256 see aim anrithearrica liry; Fried : Absurption a11rl Theatricality; "staging"; ro-l,e-seenness Tillmans, Wolfgang 337 to-be-seenness 35, 4,, 2r4 , :1.26 and De lahaye's L'Antre 223 and diCorcia's work 249, 253 -4 , 256, 259 H ofer's zoo photographs 302. and Srreu li's video works 246-8 Strurh ·s work 3 41-2 and Wall's work 50. 5 8-9, 82, 2.3 8, 246, 341, H9 Zidane film 229-30 see ,1/so thearricaliry transparency of photography 187, r88 truthfulness and falseness and represenrntion 27-l{ Tuchman, Phyllis 122., T25, r2.7 Tum lir, Jan 63-4. 72. Turner, J. M. W. 180 typologies and ide:11 type 309, 318-2 1 Ubl,Ralph r,-16 111rnwareness in subjects distance and severing in G ur sky's work 158, 16,-J, oubli de soi 40-4 1, 203, 230, 3 39 and portraiture 193-4, 33X-9, 34 r-2 Evans's sub way portraits 221, 222




Vischer, Theodo ra 1,711.45 voye uri sm in Mishima's The Temple of Dawn 28-9, ,5 of photograp her 29- 30

Clipped Brcmclu.!s'i-1-5, SJ Co11creteBall -;_,0-33, 331 , ,45 Cuttings 5-1-5 "Dan Graham's Kammerspiel" 362.11.17 Dead Troops Talk 32-5, 33, 63. 72-3, 102, 246 "Depic tion, Object, Evi:nt" 344 The Destroyed Room 10, r5-17, 15, 5/l, 63, 144 Diagonal Co111positio11 SJ, 54

Diagonal Compositinn No. 1. 53, Diagonal Composition No. 3 52, Doorpusber 6 3 Double Self-f'nrtrait 6-; The Drain 63 Eviction Struggle 64 foking Death 354-511.8 Fieldwork 80, 82-4, 83, 34 1 The Flonded Crave 80, 3 51




" Frames of Reference" 344 Waddell, Stephe n J 3 8 Wakefield. Nevi lle 37711.40 Wall, Jeff 2., 14, 1.4, 106-7, 186,188. 22 _,, 3;8 a nd absorptio n 37-62, 6