Though his ideas have been foundational, they still offer room for reflection and debate. The image, then, lets us remember the subject in a certain context: how either we or the subject would want to be remembered. What photography does do that painting cannot is create an exact mechanical reproduction of three dimensional space that does not rely on an artificial creation of perspective. Though the photograph is subject to many an artistic decision framing, angle, etc. The painter is the mediator of reality, whereas in the photography it is the camera.

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“Ontology of the Photographic Image” by André Bazin

First, I showed Sam Marlowe realizing with befuddlement that the shape in the weeds he has been sketching is actually the feet of a corpse. Keeping those clips in my back pocket, so to speak, I next turned to the essay itself. This next bit remained consistent across both times I taught the course. The claims of the opening pages are, for the most part, art-historical: ambitious, to be sure, but still somewhat grounded. The four main movements of his argument I pull out are this:. Bazin goes on to expand on this final claim in the fifth section.


Influential Theorists: Andre Bazin – The Ontology Of The Photographic Image

I would like to begin by outlining a problem that I hope will resonate with your own experiences of reading Bazin. The central task of my reading is to recover the crucial but generally-neglected distinction outlined in the following quote:. Though the full sense of this connection has yet to be unpacked, as stated it allows me to preview the basic point at which my account will diverge from the standard views of the ontological argument. As Andrew puts it:. For Bazin the situation was clear: either a filmmaker utilizes empirical reality for his personal ends or else he explores empirical reality for its own sake. In the former case the filmmaker is making of empirical reality a series of signs which point to or create an aesthetic or rhetorical truth, perhaps lofty and noble, perhaps prosaic and debased.

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