Photography could emerge socially as art only at the moment when its aesthetic presuppositions seemed to be undergoing a withering radical critique, a critique apparently aimed at foreclosing any further aestheticization of “artification” of the medium. Photoconceptualism led the way toward the complete acceptance of photography as art—autonomous, bourgeois, collectible art—by virtue of insisting that this medium might be privileged to the negation of that whole idea.
In making a landscape we must withdraw a certain distance—far enough to detach ourselves from the immediate presence of other people (figures), but not so far as to lose the ability to distinguish them as agents in a social space. Or, more accurately, it is just at the point where we begin to lose sight of the figures as agents, that the landscape crystallizes as a genre.
For a long time it was necessary to contest the classical aesthetic of photography as too absolutely rooted in the idea of fact... I accept that claim, but I don’t think that it itself can be the foundation for an aesthetic of photography, of photography as art. They way I thought I could work through that problem was to make photographs that put the factual claim in suspension, while still creating an involvement with factuality for the viewer.
One paradox I have found is that, the more you use computers in picture-making, the more “hand-made” the picture becomes. Oddly, then, digital technology is leading, in my work at least, toward a greater reliance on handmaking because the assembly and montage of the various parts of the picture is done very carefully by hand.
Most photographs cannot be looked at very often. They become exhausted. Great photographers have done it on the fly. It doesn’t happen that often. I wasn’t interested in doing that. I didn’t want to spend my time running around trying to find an event that could be made into a picture that would be good.
Art inherently involves artistry. I prepare certain things carefully because I believe that’s what’s required. Other things are completely left to chance. Anything that is prepared, constructed, or organized is done in order to allow the unpredictable “something” to appear and, in appearing, to create the real beauty of the picture, any picture.
My practice has been to reject the role of witness or journalist, of “photographer,” which in my view objectifies the subject of the picture by masking the impulses and feelings of the picture-maker. The poetics or the “productivity” of my work has been in the stagecraft and pictorial composition—what I call the cinematography.