A New History of Photography
The ideas of others color and set the framework of how I conceive the things I encounter. And so, rightfully, I see and know and express what I think is my world through the filter of those influences. My images are a reflection and a projection of this. Through the course of many years and through repeated exposure, and because of my deep interest in photography, I’ve seen and internalized a diverse body of photographic work spanning its history, thereby incorporating a particular way of seeing. In my mind, I've invented a specific canon of photography. This canon of photography seems natural to me, second nature. I’ll be reminded of it in the world around me, in the things I encounter. But I didn't make up this canon of photography. I've borrowed it from experts and acquired it through daily exposure, no, daily bombardment from the culture that surrounds me.
Now, as I look back, I see many influences in the work I’ve made and begin to wonder if the work I made is singularly “mine.” I now know it cannot be. I may see with my eyes, but my mind knows and recognizes the world through these other ideas, these other conceptions. True, the world I confront is uniquely mine, and mine alone. I occupy and move in a distinct space and travel a solitary path. But I share my time on this planet with some 6.5 billion other people, and I am genetically and culturally predisposed to see and understand the world from perspectives garnered from those around me; my clan, my group. I am a social animal and my predilections, indeed the way I even conceive of the world, is predicated on that.
I'm sure you’ve notice your conceptions shift at a specific juncture, when something you've experienced has notably “struck” you. A benign example: you go to see an art exhibit and get so thoroughly immersed in it, that upon leaving the show, your mind spins with these other ideas. You suddenly are aware that the world around you reflects that “other” vision. Or you go to a movie and you notice that you were so transfixed that even after the film ends the outside world looks a bit different, almost as if that filmic world has followed you down the street. We are changed by our encounters with culture. A reading or a talk or a conversation, an idea or an image will stay with you, just as other things that you experience might change your perspective. Afterwards, you may see these new ideas and images and perspectives reflected in things around you. Like seeing the face of someone familiar in a crowd of strangers—whether they were actually there or not—you are now suddenly prepared to see them. Once let in, once made aware, these new ideas give you the knowledge and the tools to recognize and appreciate what you might see. New ways of seeing are not a result of what we see, for the physical characteristics of our eyes stays the same. New ways of seeing are the result of what we think and how we think. This book is about how the history of photography has changed me.
It would be a conceit to say that my work ran the full gamut of photographic history, and I’m not trying to trace its breadth or its depth here, I’m only taking note of its mark upon images I have already made.
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