DaguerreotypesFugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects

DaguerreotypesFugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects

Lisa Saltzman

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226242033

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

What is the fate of photography? Displaced as a tool of identification by genetics and biometrics, dematerialized and dispersed as a document into the virtual archives of data centers and social networks, transformed as aesthetic practice into monumental visual fictions, photography in the digital age confronts its future under the competing signs of ubiquity and obsolescence. Notably, in this moment when some of the most heralded contemporary photographers have relinquished a relation to the world and systematically eroded the evidential aspect of their medium, artists, filmmakers and writers have turned toward photography as a powerful emblem of truth and proof. Cited and quoted, dramatized and ventriloquized, photography as both form and logic finds its home in other media at precisely the moment of its own material demise and theoretical contestation. Whether in contemporary film or video, painting or drawing, literature or philosophy, the photograph has asserted itself as a guarantor of identity and a stubbornly material form of evidence. Daguerreotypes: Fugitive Subjects, Contemporary Objects thus looks beyond the material and historical boundaries of the medium and opens photography to a thoroughly interdisciplinary, multi-media study. Why “daguerreotypes”? The daguerreotype not only marks the moment of photography’s origins. It also comes to stand, at the moment of medium’s prophesied end, as an emblem of all that has accrued to the object and idea of the photographic image.