A brief history of its practices and discourses 3 Photographic representation: Reflections on the myth of photographic truth Conclusion Bibliography Introduction Ina portrait of O.
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Simpson appeared on the front page of Newsweek and Time, showing the former football star as the object of a mug shot: This portrayal suggested that Simpson be labelled a convict even before the trial had started. Apparently, conventional wisdom dictates that somebody who is depicted in a mug shot is guilty, no matter whether it is true or not Ibid Notably in the past, darker skin was often used to connote evil and guilt, for example in literature, in the theatre, and in the cinematic media Ibid This prejudice might have been activated in some readers of Time.
This is how it acquired a new meaning and thereby damaged O. Altered pictures like the one described above have always caused much controversy.
Even when photography was still in its infancy, manipulative arrangement was already an issue Sachsse What kind of representation makes a picture authentic? How is authenticity defined in the first place? Also, we may ask whether there is such a thing as reality at all that can be captured by a camera or if it is fashioned, wrought in a creative sense.
I argue that meaning is to a large extent constructed by the viewer and does not exist as an inherent quality of images.
Consequently, whether an altered picture is seen as fraud or merely as an optimisation is a very subjective matter and strongly depends on contextual information. This is not to say that photographs can under no circumstances be used as evidence. However, what does happen is that their truth-value is often overestimated Ibid In any case, manipulation is not a side-effect that coincided with the birth of digital photography.
After a general introduction to the basic principles of representation and their development up to the present point of time, I will continue with a brief history of photographic practices and analyse how issues of photographic realism were dealt with in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Plato and Aristotle were the first to claim that art was a form of representation Ibid Both believed that humans made sense of the world via mimesis, that is by imitation Ibid Their notions differ only insofar as Plato thought that what was imitated was merely shadows cast by the world of Essence so that there was a twofold reflection at work.
There is a sense of tautology in this outline of realism. Apart from still wondering what it is that makes a thing real, we cannot be too sure that an accurate copy of an object vouches, in fact, for the realness of this object.
At this point, it is necessary to sketch the historical development of human perception and the concomitant divide between subjectivity and objectivity.
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