Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/09/09

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Subject: [Leica] Susan Sontag
From: imx <>
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2000 20:58:24 +0200

Judging from the majority of comments about the value of Susan Sonntags
book, I might infer that 1) the Lug is indeed not a representative
cross-section of (leica) photographers or 2) there is a cultural gap between
continental Europe and the Anglo saxon world (USA & Britain). If I were to
recommend a single book about the philosophy of the art and act of taking
pictures, Mrs Sontags book would be on the very short list. Many reputable
European art critiques and art historians agree that Sontags ideas and
analyses are a must-have-read issue as her views on photography reveal more
about the essence of photography than most thinkers before and after her
book. A contrapoint might be David Hockney who gave up photography after
reflecting on the limitations of this craft. Emails in general and the Lug
are not the appropriate forum to discuss these topics, as we need time and
the almost lost ability of people to listen to an argument, reflecting on it
and then answering. Given the elapsed time for such a style of discourse the
Lug has thundered along to a thousand new topics, which is inherent in the
medium. Marshall Mc Luhan was right about it: the medium is the message. The
email medium is great for sharing instant ideas and opinions, snippets of
facts and news, etc but not the right place to pondwer and reflect topics of
breadth and depth. Remember the diffraction grating issue. Some passing off
the hip remarks were made and the topic died. Still this innovation by Canon
is indeed of as great an  impact as the introduction of aspherics.
Returning to culture: if you take your photography seriously, more time is
better spend by studying Sontags book than asking which developer is best
for film X. For a techno-biased person like myself, this may sound strange.
But photography is a craft and embedded in a visual culture. The rules of
culture are not relevant for image quality, MTF or silverhalide grains, but
if photography as an expressive medium is to survive, you should study Mrs