Photography and Its Violations

Hardcover | October 14, 2014

byJohn Roberts

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Theorists critique photography for "objectifying" its subjects and manipulating appearances for the sake of art. In this bold counterargument, John Roberts recasts photography's violating powers of disclosure and aesthetic technique as part of a complex "social ontology" that exposes the hierarchies, divisions, and exclusions behind appearances.

The photographer must "arrive unannounced" and "get in the way of the world," Roberts argues, committing photography to the truth-claims of the spectator over the self-interests and sensitivities of the subject. Yet even though the violating capacity of the photograph results from external power relations, the photographer is still faced with an ethical choice: whether to advance photography's truth-claims on the basis of these powers or to diminish or veil these powers to protect the integrity of the subject. Photography's acts of intrusion and destabilization, then, constantly test the photographer at the point of production, in the darkroom, and at the computer, especially in our 24-hour digital image culture. In this game-changing work, Roberts refunctions photography's place in the world, politically and theoretically restoring its reputation as a truth-producing medium.

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Theorists critique photography for "objectifying" its subjects and manipulating appearances for the sake of art. In this bold counterargument, John Roberts recasts photography's violating powers of disclosure and aesthetic technique as part of a complex "social ontology" that exposes the hierarchies, divisions, and exclusions behind a...

John Roberts is professor of art and aesthetics at the University of Wolverhampton and the author of The Art of Interruption: Realism, Photography, and the Everyday, The Intangibilities of Form: Skill and Deskilling in Art After the Readymade, and The Necessity of Errors. He has also contributed to the Oxford Art Journal, New Left Rev...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:232 pagesPublished:October 14, 2014Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231168187

ISBN - 13:9780231168182

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: The Social Ontology of PhotographyPart I. The Document, the Figural, and the Index1. Photography and Its Truth-Event2. The Political Form of Photography Today3. "Fragment, Experiment, Dissonant Prologue": Modernism, Realism, and the Photodocument4. Two Models of Labor: Figurality and Nonfigurality in Recent PhotographyPart II. Abstraction, Violation, and Empathy5. Photography After the Photograph: Event, Archive, and the Nonsymbolic6. Photography, Abstraction, and the Social Production of Space7. Violence, Photography, and the InhumanConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

I know of no other work in photographic history or theory which takes such a wide survey of well-chosen examples in service of making profound and provocative sense of the whole field of photography. This book also successfully proposes a genuinely novel position from which to re-engage the most pressing, important, and persistent problems of photography.