Photo Recognition

Sat, 29 Jul 1995 13:27:48 -0400

This is an interesting thread, but I see in the discussion only the
beginnings of an understanding about the construction of photography
that has occurred in this "culture" (Euro-American?).

Firstly, while I am not an art historian, there have been some systematic
studies of the evolution of "perspective" in Renaissance Europe that shed
light on the construction with which we now live.

Secondly, I would refer readers to essays written as photography came
about and the impact of that process on the way those people
then "saw". In particular, Oliver Wendell Holmes, in two essays -
"The Stereoscope and the Stereograph" (1859) and "Doings of the
Sunbeam" (1863) (both reprinted in Photography: Essays & Images,
Newhall, B., ed., 1980) - exclaims about the meaning of the divorce
of image from substance which takes place with photography. "_Form is
henceforth divorced from matter_. In fact, matter as a visible object
is of no great use any longer, except as the mould on which form is
shaped. (Emphasis in original)"

Euro-American culture has carefully schooled itself to replace
three dimensional objects with those of two dimensions; however we do
it, we have well learned to replace substance with image (both
"actually" as well as "metaphorically"). This began with the
Renaissance and continues today with the increasing concern for the
representation of information. That people in some cultures have not
been schooled in this "way of seeing" - when they have only, or
primarily, been exposed to "things in the round" - is to be expected.
It helps us to understand our peculiar ways better.