Classic text on photography to read again and again. Susan Sontag's On Photography is a seminal and groundbreaking work on the subject. She had no formal training in art or photography—she studied English and philosophy at Harvard—but immersed herself in the New York cultural scene from 1959 onward. Not the easiest read but seems to, making deeply insightful and intellectually sharp points but can be a real endeavour to get through what feels like a generous a, Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 May 2016. Popular taste expects an easy, an invisible technology. Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK, Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost, Dispatch to this address when you check out, Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 June 2018. CHAPTER 1 CRITIQUE (Plato’s Cave) I’m always suspicious of thinkers who always invoke the Plato Cave analogy (I’m with Nietzsche in […] ""-""The New York Times Book Review" "A book of great importance and originality . Sontag writes: Through photographs, each family constructs a portrait-chronicle of itself — a portable kit of images that bears witness to its connectedness. It seems positively unnatural to travel for pleasure without taking a camera along. My critique: I think Susan Sontag hates photography. Susan Sontag was born in New York City on January 16, 1933, grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and attended high school in Los Angeles. Susan Sontag is an essayist and novelist. Her book is a collection of six essays that explore photography in the deepest of manners. In 1978 Susan Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor, a classic work described by Newsweek as "one of the most liberating books of its time." This is a good book to understand the direction of which you what to go in a historical context, simple and to the point as I mentioned in the title essential for any early photography student. 'Complex and contradictory... one of America's greatest public intellectuals' Observer'Susan Sontag offers enough food for thought to satisfy the most intellectual of appetites.' https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/09/16/susan-sontag-on-photography-social-media/ Social change is replaced by a change in images. For one thing, there are a great many more images around, claiming our attention. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 January 2020. Essential for any early photography student. ― Susan Sontag, On Photography. She mostly wrote essays, but also published novels; she published her first major work, the essay " Notes on 'Camp' ", in 1964. Your support makes all the difference. Susan Sontag has returned photography to the cockpit of discussion it occupied when the exact mechanical image loomed as a threat to the person, to art, to the very relationship between images and reality. John Berger and Susan Sontag speak about story telling and about the ethic of photography —. A must read for anyone who takes photography seriously. Susan Sontag. On Photography by Susan Sontag is a treatise on photography; what meaning it holds, both in Western civilisation, as well as other cultures and how such meaning has changed through the relatively short history of the medium. Please try again. Thus, photography develops in tandem with one of the most characteristic of modern activities: tourism. Your support makes all the difference. Like guns and cars, cameras are fantasy-machines whose use is addictive. Nevertheless, Sontag’s radical thoughts on photography are as potent as ever. It’s as simple as turning the ignition key or pulling the trigger. Much of what Sontag says applies to today's culture of images. "-John Berger "Not many photographs are worth a thousand of [Susan Sontag's] words. Go here. The New YorkerPhotographs are everywhere. The freedom to consume a plurality of images and goods is equated with freedom itself. More than anything, however, Sontag argues that the photographic image is a control mechanism we exert upon the world — upon our experience of it and upon others’ perception of our experience: Photographs really are experience captured, and the camera is the ideal arm of consciousness in its acquisitive mood. from the College of the University of Chicago and did graduate work in philosophy, literature, and theology at Harvard University and … She received her B.A. Nonetheless, the modern reader can easily comprehend the technical, psychological, social and artistic embedding of photography that Sontag offers on these pages. But being educated by photographs is not like being educated by older, more artisanal images. In the opening essay, “In Plato’s Cave,” Sontag contextualizes the question of how and why photographs came to grip us so powerfully: Humankind lingers unregenerately in Plato’s cave, still reveling, its age-old habit, in mere images of the truth. Her non-fiction works include Against Interpretation, On Photography, Illness as Metaphor, AIDS and its Metaphors and Regarding the Pain of Others. This collection of six lucid and invigorating essays, the most famous being "In Plato's Cave," make up a deep exploration of how the image has affected society. I was aware of the book but had never read it. Conditions apply. — The practice of photography gives us assurance by its accurate relation to reality than any other devices. Almost every page contains an idea that could set you off in a new photographic direction., which leaves a lot to choose. Humankind lingers unregenerately in Plato's Cave, still reveling, its age-old habit, in mere images of the truth. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Susan Sontag. As everything she wrote, Susan Sontag's book on photography is brilliant. Otherwise it is a Five Star book. Cummings on Art, Life, and Being Unafraid to Feel, The Writing of “Silent Spring”: Rachel Carson and the Culture-Shifting Courage to Speak Inconvenient Truth to Power, Timeless Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers, A Rap on Race: Margaret Mead and James Baldwin’s Rare Conversation on Forgiveness and the Difference Between Guilt and Responsibility, The Science of Stress and How Our Emotions Affect Our Susceptibility to Burnout and Disease, Mary Oliver on What Attention Really Means and Her Moving Elegy for Her Soul Mate, Rebecca Solnit on Hope in Dark Times, Resisting the Defeatism of Easy Despair, and What Victory Really Means for Movements of Social Change, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, Narrowly Selective Transparency: Susan Sontag on Photography vs. the Other Arts, Susan Sontag on Selfies, Selfhood, and How the Camera Helps Us Navigate Complexity, Susan Sontag on the Trouble with Treating Art and Cultural Material as “Content”, Famous Writers' Sleep Habits vs. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures. The aggression Sontag sees in this purposeful manipulation of reality through the idealized photographic image applies even more poignantly to the aggressive self-framing we practice as we portray ourselves pictorially on Facebook, Instagram, and the like: Images which idealize (like most fashion and animal photography) are no less aggressive than work which makes a virtue of plainness (like class pictures, still lifes of the bleaker sort, and mug shots). The inventory started in 1839 and since then just about everything has been photographed, or so it seems. It delves into the idea of ‘transparency’, where photographers have eliminated the boundaries of art and are faced with the prospect of being free to capture. Well written and to the point. Claim yours: Also: Because Brain Pickings is in its fifteenth year and because I write primarily about ideas of a timeless character, I have decided to plunge into my vast archive every Wednesday and choose from the thousands of essays one worth resurfacing and resavoring. A fascinating book, that is incredibly prescient. She goes even further in asserting photography’s inherent violence: Like a car, a camera is sold as a predatory weapon — one that’s as automated as possible, ready to spring. 29 likes. Anyone interested in the social roles of photography will find this book fascinating and thought-provoking. Classic text on photography to read again and again. Sontag develops further the concept of 'transparency'. A good book for A level or college students, I was made to read this straight from school but have come back to it several times throughout my education and research practice. The content is excellent. I have no staff, no interns, not even an assistant — a thoroughly one-woman labor of love that is also my life and my livelihood. There is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera. E-mail after purchase. — Learn more about VAT here. Photographs will offer indisputable evidence that the trip was made, that the program was carried out, that fun was had. A classic critical examination of photography. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Literary Productivity, Visualized, 7 Life-Learnings from 7 Years of Brain Pickings, Illustrated, Anaïs Nin on Love, Hand-Lettered by Debbie Millman, Anaïs Nin on Real Love, Illustrated by Debbie Millman, Susan Sontag on Love: Illustrated Diary Excerpts, Susan Sontag on Art: Illustrated Diary Excerpts, Albert Camus on Happiness and Love, Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton, The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering Oliver Sacks. The forming image is sharp, trenchant - a good picture; but it isn't exactly the photo you had in your head. Sontag writes: Photographs … help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure. Please try your request again later. Susan Sontag (/ ˈ s ɒ n t æ ɡ /; January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer, filmmaker, philosopher, teacher, and political activist. In 2020, I spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars keeping Brain Pickings going. Something went wrong. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 September 2017, A classic book on the theory of photography. In this essential and revelatory volume, Susan Sontag confronts important questions surrounding the power dynamics between photographer and subject, the blurred boundary between lived events and recreated images, and the desires that lead us to record our lives. If you want think think more about photography and what it means and how it works aesthetically and in society this is a must. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. There, images validate experience, which raises the question of whether we engage in a kind of “social media tourism” today as we vicariously devour other people’s lives. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I receive a small percentage of its price. Shop books, stationery, devices and other learning essentials. Susan Sontag, In Plato’s Cave from the book: On Photography. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge — and, therefore, like power. One has to wonder, however, whether — and how much — the family circle has been replaced by the social circle as we construct our online communities around photostreams and shared timelines. Almost every photography student has probably read it. Most tourists feel compelled to put the camera between themselves and whatever is remarkable that they encounter. Unsure of other responses, they take a picture. "-Robert Hughes, Time "After Sontag, photography must be written about not only as a force in the arts, but as one that is increasingly powerful in the nature and destiny of our global society. Learn more about Import fee deposit here. This is the world of the 1960s and '70s when paper print photographs seemed to be everywhere and yet were in fact few and far between compared to the ubiquitous image creation and retention of the digital era. 'Complex and contradictory... one of America's greatest public intellectuals' Observer Rather, Sontag presages, the photograph became a utility in our cultural power-dynamics: It is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power. First published in 1973, this is a study of the force of photographic images which are continually inserted between experience and reality. Sorry, there was a problem saving your cookie preferences. Published September 16, 2013 Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. If this labor has enlarged and enriched your own life this year, please consider aiding its sustenance with a one-time or loyal donation. At the same time, photography is both an attempted antidote to our mortality paradox and a deepening awareness of it: All photographs are memento mori. In my analysis of the first chapter, "In Plato's Cave", I elaborate on what Sontag is trying to say and argue against some of her statements. Born in 1933, Sontag wrote plays, essays, and fiction until her death in 2004. ON PHOTOGRAPHY Susan Sontag . For the first time in history, large numbers of people regularly travel out of their habitual environments for short periods of time. Susan Sontag quotes Feuerbach in saying that our age prefers the photograph to the real thing, the appearance before experience. Privacy policy. If, for example, you admire the clarity and concisely meaningful style of John Berger/Ways Of Seeing, this might feel like more of an uphill struggle. Similarly, Sontag notes the heightened use of photography in tourism. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt. Sontag was writing in the 1970s, when photography - especially color photography - was becoming more commonplace, and she nails many of the cultural and sociological aspects of photographs. You can also become a spontaneous supporter with a one-time donation in any amount: Partial to Bitcoin? And whether we use them to expose, reveal or remember, they hold an enduring power. We use cookies and similar tools to enhance your shopping experience, to provide our services, understand how customers use our services so we can make improvements, and display ads. In the essay “On Photography” written in the 1970’s, author Susan Sontag states that “photographs really are experience captured” and the camera helps us put ourselves into the relation of the photographs. What makes this insight particularly prescient is that Sontag arrived at it more than three decades before the age of the social media photostream — the ultimate attempt to control, frame, and package our lives — our idealized lives — for presentation to others, and even to ourselves. This very insatiability of the photographing eye changes the terms of confinement in the cave, our world. Approved third parties also use these tools in connection with our display of ads. Among her books are several works of criticism, Against Interpretation, On Photography, But Sontag’s most piercing — and perhaps most heartbreaking — insight about leisure and photography touches on our cultural cult of productivity, which we worship at the expense of our ability to be truly present. Online, thirty-some years after Sontag’s observation, this aggression precipitates a kind of social media violence of self-assertion — a forcible framing of our identity for presentation, for idealization, for currency in an economy of envy. And so the photographic image becomes an affirmation of our very existence, one whose power is invariably addictive: Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Though On Photography (public library) — the seminal collection of essays by reconstructionist Susan Sontag — was originally published in 1977, Sontag’s astute insight resonates with extraordinary timeliness today, shedding light on the psychology and social dynamics of visual culture online. Though On Photography (public library) — the seminal collection of essays by reconstructionist Susan Sontag — was originally published in 1977, Sontag’s astute insight resonates with extraordinary timeliness today, shedding light on the psychology and social dynamics of … susan sontag on photography summary throughout history reality has been related through images and philosophers such as plato have made efforts to diminish our I found myself committed to giving a talk to my Photo Club on "Quotations from famous Photographers". It all comes … "-"Washington Post Book World" "Every page of "On Photography" raises important and exciting questions about its subject and raises them in the best way. Highly perceptive, succinct, sensitive analysis of visual image reproduction which had come into its own during the interwar years and defined how we watched the world right up to the appearance of the digital camera at the dawn of the new millennium. The method especially appeals to people handicapped by a ruthless work ethic — Germans, Japanese, and Americans. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Subscribe to this free midweek pick-me-up for heart, mind, and spirit below — it is separate from the standard Sunday digest of new pieces: Ever since its invention in 1839, the photographic image and its steady evolution have shaped our experience of reality — from chronicling our changing world and recording its diversity to helping us understand the science of emotion to anchored us to consumer culture. From high art to family albums to legal evidence, they capture and document the world around us. For one thing, there are a great many more images around, claiming our attention. I have no staff, no interns, not even an assistant — a thoroughly one-woman labor of love that is also my life and my livelihood. I ordered the book through Amazon, it arrived promptly, and not only did Sontag provide some great quotes of her own but she includes an extensive supplement of quotations by photographers or about photography - just what I needed. Since 2006, I have been spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars each month to keep Brain Pickings going. It has remained free and ad-free and alive thanks to patronage from readers. But being educated by photographs is not like being educated by older, more artisanal images. In 2001 she was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for the body of her work. In this essential and revelatory volume, Susan Sontag confronts important questions surrounding the power dynamics between photographer and subject, the blurred boundary between lived events and recreated images, and the desires that lead us to record our lives. This gives shape to experience: stop, take a photograph, and move on. Susan Sontag was born in Manhattan in 1933 and studied at the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. Her books include Against Interpretation, On Photography, Illness as Metaphor, and The Volcano Lover. Susan Sontag But despite the meteoric rise of photography from a niche curiosity to a mass medium over the past century and a half, there’s something ineffably yet indisputably different about visual culture in the digital age — something at once singular and deeply rooted at the essence of the photographic image itself. Susan Sontag was born in Manhattan in 1933 and studied at the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. On Photography is a collection of essays by American writer, academic, and activist Susan Sontag. 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Susan Sontag’s “On Photography” is one of the worst texts you can ever assign to an aspiring photographer, photography student, photography beginner, or lover of photography. Her non-fiction works include Against Interpretation, On Photography, Illness as Metaphor, AIDS and its Metaphors and Regarding the Pain of Others.She is also the author of four novels, a collection of stories and several plays. When anything can be photographed and photography has destroyed the boundaries and definitions of art, a viewer can approach a photograph freely with no expectations of discovering what it means. If this labor has enlarged and enriched your own life this year, please consider aiding its sustenance with a one-time or loyal donation. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 March 2016. Out of those souvenirs we build a fantasy — one we project about our own lives, and one we deduce about those of others: Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy. But in addition to dividing us along a power hierarchy, photographs also connect us into communities and nuclear units. In teaching us a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe. You can beam some bit-love my way: 197usDS6AsL9wDKxtGM6xaWjmR5ejgqem7. Of course, this modern day was the 1970's, but many of the key elements described in the collection of essays still remain relevant. Brain Pickings has a free Sunday digest of the week's most interesting and inspiring articles across art, science, philosophy, creativity, children's books, and other strands of our search for truth, beauty, and meaning. A cancer patient herself when she was writing the book, Sontag shows how the metaphors and myths surrounding certain illnesses, especially cancer, add greatly to the suffering of patients and often inhibit them from seeking proper treatment. Need to cancel a recurring donation? Washington Post. Understanding a Photograph: Penguin on Design (Penguin Modern Classics), Against Interpretation and Other Essays (Penguin Modern Classics), Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (Vintage Classics), "A brilliant analysis of the profound changes photographic images have made in our way of looking at the world and at ourselves over the last 140 years. Susan Sontag was born in New York City on January 16, 1933. "-"Newsweek" ""On Photography" is to my mind the most original and illuminating study of the subject. My copy suffered from print problems. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 October 2017. It’s an excellent analysis of the far-reaching changes photographic images have made in our way of looking at the world and at ourselves. © 1996-2020, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. It originally appeared as a series of essays in the New York Review of Books between 1973 and 1977. 1970) world. Susan Sontag’s On Photography is one of the best studies of photography that you can find. “Every page of On Photography raises important and exciting questions about its subject and raises them in the best way.” —The New York Times Book Review “On Photography is to my mind the most original and illuminating study of the subject.”—Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker . Susan Sontag (1933–2004) was a novelist, playwright, filmmaker, and one of the most influential critics of her generation. While she didn't foresee the massive proliferation of images that exist today - notably the self-referential nature of a lot of photography - her insights are spot on. Her non-fiction works include A, Art and Photography: covers every major school, style and name and includes work by Jeff Wall, Andreas Gursky and Gillian Wearing... (Themes & Movements). Susan Sontag is the author of four novels, The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover and In America; I, Etcetera, a collection of stories; several plays; and five works of nonfiction, among them Illness as a Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors. All future discussion or analysis of the role of photography in the affluent mass-media societies are now bound to begin with her book. For the most part, she describes the relationship between photography and capitalism in society. Susan Sontag was born in Manhattan in 1933 and studied at the universities of Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. Manufacturers reassure their customers that taking pictures demands no skill or expert knowledge, that the machine is all-knowing, and responds to the slightest pressure of the will. Reviewing Susan Sontag's book is analogous to printing in the darkroom. The last, essentially, is Sontag's subject, approached—after a splatter of (as yet) unsupported assertions —via touchstone figures: writers, photographers, painters interchangeably. For non-photographers, it is doubtful whether they … Susan Sontag’s book “On Photography” is a classic. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. In On Photography, Susan Sontag discusses what she believes photography does to society in the modern day. That most logical of nineteenth-century aesthetes, Mallarmé, said that everything in the world exists in order to end in a book. Finally, the most grandiose result of the photographic enterprise is to give us the sense that we can hold the whole world in our heads — as an anthology of images. Here's an example. Probably I should have sent it back. It is a set of essays on the "philosophy" of picture-taking and the meaning of photography in the modern (ca. Like? This seems especially true, if subtly tragic, as we fill our social media timelines with images, as if to prove that our biological timelines — our very lives — are filled with notable moments, which also remind us that they are all inevitably fleeting towards the end point of that timeline: mortality itself. Susan Sontag was the author of four novels, including In America, which won the 2000 National Book Award for Fiction; a collection of stories; several plays; and seven works of nonfiction.She died in New York City on December 28, 2004. A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it — by limiting experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir. The narrowing of free political choice to free economic consumption requires the unlimited production and consumption of images.”. 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