Brunelleschi, looking through a hole at a street in florence, makes a depiction of it from a fixed viewpoint.... The photographic process is simply the invention in the 19th century of a chemical substance that could ‘freeze’ the image projected from the hole in the wall, as it were, onto a surface. It was the invention of the chemicals that was new, not the particular way of seeing.... So the photograph is, in a sense, the end of something old, not the beginning of something new.
I've finally figured out what's wrong with photography. It's a one-eyed man looking through a little 'ole. Now, how much reality can there be in that?
Photography is all right if you don't mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralysed Cyclops.
The convention of the blur comes from photography; it’s what happens when motion is compressed onto a chemical plate. We’ve seen so many photos of blurs that we now think we actually see them in the world. But look sometime: you don’t.
Ordinary photography, it seems to me, is obsessed with subject matter, whereas [my] photographs are not principally about their subjects. Or rather, they aren’t so much about things as they are about the way things catch your eye.
Computer manipulation means that it’s no longer possible to believe that a photograph represents a specific object in a specific place at a specific time—to believe that it’s objective and “true.”
You can’t look at most photos for more than, say, thirty seconds. It has nothing to do with the subject matter. I first noticed this with erotic photographs, trying to find them lively: you can’t. Life is precisely what they don’t have—or rather, time, lived time. All you can do with most ordinary photographs is stare at them—they stare back, blankly—and presently your concentration begins to fade. They stare you down.
Photography hankers after the condition of the neutral observer. But there can be no such things as a neutral observer. For something to be seen, it must be looked at by somebody, and any true and real depiction must be an account of the experience of that looking.
I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong with photography. It’s a one-eyed man looking through a little hole. Now, how much reality can there be in that?
People feel that the world depicted through photography is absolutely real. But it’s not. That’s just an aspect of reality.
Ordinary photography, it seems to me, is obsessed with subject matter, whereas [my collages] are not principally about their subjects. Or rather, they aren’t so much about things as they are about the way things catch your eye.
When is the present? When did the past end and the present occur, and when does the future start? Ordinary photography has one way of seeing only, which is fixed, as if there is kind of an objective reality, which simply cannot be. Picasso...knew that every time you look there’s something different. There is so much there but we´re not seeing it, that’s the problem.
One of the things I'm doing in Yorkshire is finding out how difficult it is to learn not to see like cameras, which has had such an effect on us. The camera sees everything at once. We don't. There's a hierarchy. Why do I pick out that thing as opposed to that thing or that thing?
Without images how would I know what you see? I don't know what you see. I'll never know, but these flat images are the only things that connect up between us.
The best portrait photographs are those that capture in a fraction of a second a period of time that looked as though it had been longer. Yet this also results in a certain static aspect to the face. The face must not be caught in a bearing that is too suggestive of a short period of time... for over an hour and a half, I tried to include a variety of looks, glances and expressions, all of which might synthesize into a living portrait of that person.
The camera is a medium is what I suddenly realized. It’s neither an art, a technique, a craft, nor a hobby—it's a tool. It’s an extraordinary drawing tool. It’s as if I, like most ordinary photographers, had previously been taking part in some long-established cultures in which pencils were used only for making dots—there’s an obvious sense of liberation that comes when you realize you can make lines!
..the reason you can’t look at a photograph for a long time is because there’s virtually no time in it—the imbalance between the two experiences, the first and second lookings, is too extreme.
Most photographers think that the rules of perspective are built into the very nature of photography, that it is not possible to change it at all. For me, it was a long process realizing that this does not have to be the case.
I’ve always said that the only thing a photograph is good at capturing faithfully is another flat surface.
..all along I’ve had an ambivalent relationship to photography—but as to whether I thought it an art form, or a craft, or a technique, well, I’ve always been taken with Henry Geldzahler’s answer to that question when he said, “I thought it was a hobby."
... I discovered in photography that as things get closer to you, it gets more and more difficult to see, more and more difficult to piece together. It made me believe that the most interesting and mystical space we have is here, close to us, and not in outer space.
I think we are moving into a more electronic age, there’s no doubt about it. In a way, storing information digitally is storing abstractions. I find that quite fascinating, as it’s now becoming quite clear that the distinction between abstraction and representation is a false concept. It was a critic’s idea, not an artist’s concept. It’s all one thing.