Roger Fenton, Valley of The Shadow of Death. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

I read Lawrence Weschler’s interview with Errol Morris on the subway this morning.  It’s always great to listen in on two interesting and esoteric minds conversing.  I appreciated a lot of the insights they dug out of each other.
One thing that struck me though is how much public conversations about photography have changed – even in the last 5 years. Now that digital photography is ubiquitous, even non-specialists have to talk about photography with a digital twist – a shift that Morris and Weschler seem to have skipped.  At this point, any conversation that’s mostly a reaction to Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes seems a little quaint to me.  Not that I blame them – it used to be a lot more fun to think about photography as a special medium.  Sadly, this just isn’t the same technology Sontag and Barthes were writing about.  But it would be wonderful to hear these two super-smart guys talk about digital technology representing the input from light-sensing arrays and the potential of software hacks for recording different realities than the photographic ones  Nicéphore Niépce and Roger Fenton recorded.
One moment in the interview that I really loved was when Weschler said, “For all the variety of your subject matter, I think you are essentially a hedgehog—and in fact a turbo-hedgehog, a pneumatic drill of a hedgehog. You just dig and dig and dig. You are like an archeologist of photography.”

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