Sounds like a dumb question. Obviously, a photograph is a photograph: today, yesterday and tomorrow. A rose is a rose is a rose. But that’s exactly the point. The rose changes depending on who is looking, who is smelling and, above all, the relationship between the two. Well, the same with photographs.
Historically, a photograph was a medium charged with exciting information. something which stimulated a virtual experience, a memory, a thought process or simply a momentary thought of someone or something. Ok, it’s all still true, but the value of looking at an image has changed dramatically. We rarely look at anything anymore, we simply don’t have the time. I’m not here to sustain all of us, or you personally, who spend much personal time contemplating imagery, but I’m referring the general anxiety of having very little time at our disposal. So what happens to our “image” experience? Well, before saying obvious things like, it decays, it looses meaning, etc. etc, I would like to say that the image simply changes. Of course, it’s us who is changing, but relatively speaking, we feel that the image is the one which has changed.
We glimpse at images, we capture some kind of visual short-hand, and then we’re off with our glance towards something else: like an object of desire. Images used to be a major source of information. they still give us tons of information, but they’re not our major source. Screens are. Images have been substituted by screens. That means that we stop our glance less than we used to and, I presume, that means we stop our thoughts less than we used to. We don’t reflect on meaning anymore, we simply act. We’re too anxiety ridden to reflect, we have to get where we’re going, do what we have to do, make something of our day. Life has become a screen.That is why I ask myself, are photographs what they used to be? Well, the answer is obviously, yes of course. The difference is in my perception and, if you will, in my need to use photographs in a very different way.