Thanks to the cameraphone, we are drowning in images. Which are important, and what gives them meaning? In Montreal, a group of artists attempt to decide
This article in the Guardian explains how a Joan Fontcuberta curated expedition will examine the role of the photograph and the photographer in the age of the camera phone and the proliferation of images through the internet. Fontcuberta makes a startling statement:
I think that now most artists adopt images [ie select from images captured by others] because they don’t pretend to be the biological parents, they just pick those images to make them alive in another context. The importance is how we assign meaning. The craft and authorship of the image are no longer relevant issues, which brings us to the crisis of photography.
This view seems to strike indignation or anger in some photographers (based on comments on Facebook). If Fontcuberta has correctly analysed the condition of photography now, then do photographers face the same crisis that portrait artists faced as photography took over their role in recording information? As the camera-machine made redundant the need for the portrait artist’s technical skills in drawing or painting, does the camera-phone, smart digital technology and the mass of images posted to the internet also make redundant the technical skills of a photographer using a camera? He becomes purely a selector and processor of existing images made by others to express his intention?
As everyone who uses a camera-phone has arguably become a photographer, the meaning of the word photographer has become ambiguous and all-encompassing, becoming too imprecise to carry meaningfulness. I suggest that there is more a crisis in semantics, rather than a crisis in photography itself – photographers using only other people images, are rather editors or curators of photographs, not photographers.
Pett S (2015). The Guardian [online]. Mois de la Photo: making sense of the photograph in the web era (15 September). Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/sep/15/mois-de-la-photo-making-sense-photography [accessed 18.9.15]