Photographic Looking Part II



Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, 1954

What does it means for an image to look photographic?
What does it mean to see the world through photography?











Alfred Hitchcock. Rear Window (Lisa sleuthing scene). 1954.
Irving Penn. Woman with Roses on Her Arm. 1950.











Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage. 1907.


"I saw shapes related to one another - a picture of shapes, and underlying it, a new vision that held me." - Stieglitz











Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California. 1936.











Edward Weston. Pepper #30. 1930.











Cartier-Bresson. Behind the Gare St. Lazare. 1932.

Ansel Adams.Snow Covered Mountains. 1940s.











John Szarkowski, Director of Photography at Museum of Modern Art 1962 - 1991

Walker Evans. Kitchen in Floyd Burroughs' Home. 1936.

In 1990, U.S. News & World Report said: "Szarkowski's thinking, whether Americans know it or not, has become our thinking about photography."
Szarkowski contested the idea that a photo should look like a painting
Insisted that photography "abandon its allegiance to traditional pictorial standards and be inventive in terms of inherent qualities
with which photography was born whole."
Listed five characteristics unique to photography:
"the thing itself" - a photo is a picture, not the equivalent of reality
"the detail" - "compelling clarity" and isolation of a fragment of reality
"the frame" - the "central act of choosing and eliminating"
"the vantage point"
Insisted that "all photographs are time exposures, of shorter or longer duration."












Robert Frank. Fourth of July, Jay, NY. 1955 - 56.
Frank, Robert. The Americans. SCALO Publishers, New York. 2000.

Diane Arbus. Child with a Toy Hand Grenade. 1970.
Rubinfien, Leo. "Where Diane Arbus Went." Art in America. October, 2005. 65 - 77.











"We've become a race of Peeping Toms. People out to get outside and look at themselves." - Stella in Rear Window


Lee Friedlander. New York City. 1966.











Diane Arbus. Puerto Rican Woman with Beauty Mark. 1965.











"What is it you're looking for?" - Lisa to Jeffries in Rear Window
What is it we're looking for in photographs?











Rear Window Film Still. 1954.,%20James/Annex/Annex%20-%20Stewart,%20James%20(Rear%20Window)_01.jpg

  • After losing his mobility and personal freedom,
    Jeffries uses the camera to exist in the world
  • He lives vicariously through the people seen across the courtyard as though they were projected images
  • Jeffries sees a projection of his own desires and fears
  • He is entirely engulfed in the looking, as the movie viewer suspends disbelief when watching a great movie
  • But the screen/ projection/ images become a substitute reality
  • He establishes early on that his "reality," his "true self" is on assignment with his camera. His apartment, Lisa and his broken leg are mere and inconsequential fragments of his "true self."
  • Jeffries refuses to come to terms with his own reality by looking for truth in the projected images
In a culture glutted with images, do we substitute reality for photographic fictions?
Do we avoid our own realities with idealized photographs?










David Lachapelle. Pamela Anderson.










David Lachapelle. Lady Gaga Pink Room. 2009.











Marilyn Minter. Bottled Blonde. 2006. Enamel on aluminum.












Keeping Up With the Kardashians ad. 2010.
Jersey Shore ad 2011











The Real World, Las Vegas ad 2011










Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew





















Before 9/11 images like this dazzled


Thomas Struth. Louvre IV. 1989.
Riemschneider, Burkhard, and Uta Grosenick. Art at the Turn of the Millennium. Taschen. 1999.











Loretta Lux. Hopper. 2005.
Loretta Lux. Ophelia. 2005.











Andreas Gursky.  99 Cent.  1999.











Andreas Gursky's 99 Cent II Diptychon
sold for $3,346,456 at auction in February, 2007
making it the most expensive photograph to date

Andreas Gursky.  99 Cent Diptychon. 2001.










After 9/11 and the global economic crisis, they seem not quite relevant?


Thomas Struth. Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo. 1991.











Just as with WWII, photography has begun an important shift since 9/11





















Joel Meyerowitz. World Trade Center, Archive Project. 2001.
Orvell, Miles. American Photography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.











Joe Rosenthal. Raising Old Glory at Iwo Jima. February 23, 1945.
Marien, Mary Warner.  Photography: A Cultural History.  Second edition.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2006.
Flag Raising at Ground Zero.  2001.










Anonymous. Tourist Guy. 2001.


For one thing, we realized that digital imagery was infinitely malleable and could not be trusted.
Today we have a tendency to assume falsity in images rather than truth.











Our image technologies have proven so successful in their strategies, that they lead us to question reality itself and make the possible look artificial. When viewing the images and footage of the attacks on the World Trade Centers, many responded by saying, "it looked like a movie." The image is more real than real, hyper real, and we often prefer it that way.




Alfredo Jaar











"It may be premature to say that we are living now in a 'post-photographic' age, despite the digitization of photography, for the illusions that the image can render have not yet been rendered irrelevant by the advancing picture-making technology of the computer. Nevertheless, it is a growing part of our contemporary consciousness that photography's function within our culture is at a crisis moment whose outcome is not yet certain." – Miles Orvell











Alfredo Jaar. The Silence of Nduwayezu. 1997.











Alfredo Jaar. The Eyes of Gutete Emerita. 1996.
"'[Alfredo Jaar's Rwanda Project] address[es] a crisis of the image, and in our relation to images, that Paul Virilio has called "a sort of pathology of immediate perception that owes everything, or very nearly everything, to the recent proliferation of photo-cinematographic and video-infographic seeing machines; machines that by mediatizing ordinary everyday representations end up destroying their credibility.' As we become increasingly subject to images, the subject of any image becomes less and less available to us. Must we turn away from images entirely in order to begin again? ... We live in a time when information, in the form of words and images, is being transmitted in vast quantities and at increasingly high speeds, and this mass and velocity determine its effects. Human beings cannot act on information transmitted in this way, but only attmept to retrieve, sort, and process it." - David Levi Strauss














Sebastiao Salgado. Serra Pelada, Brazil. 1990.











"Resisting the tyranny of visual public images can also be effected in some fairly simple ways. When you reduce the speed and frequency of images, you make it possible to see images differently. It is not necessary to embrace the visual rhetoric and speed of product advertising in order to counter it. The processing and storage of images (by human beings) is not instantaneous. It takes time. So fi you can control the speed of transmission, you can begin to make images memorable." - David Levi Strauss











Images that allow pause and consider what it means to see the world through the camera...


Ken Gonzalez Day. About a hundred yardfFrom the Rrad (from the Hang Trees series). 2002.
Ken Gonzalez Day. Next morning when jimmy woke, the cowboys were gone (from the Hang Trees series). 2002.









Nina Berman. Marine Wedding (from the Marine Wedding series). 2006.











Alfredo Jaar. Gold in the Morning. 1987. Lightbox with color transparency.










This lecture was based on ideas presented in the following books. If you're interested, please explore further!
Laura Mulvey. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. 1973.
David Levi Strauss. Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics. New York: aperture, 2003.
Susan Sontag. On Photography. New York: anchor Books, 1989 ed.
Susan Sontag. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Picador, 2003.
Robin Wood. Hitchcock's Films Revisted. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.