Tuesday, October 5
"Like a car, a camera is sold as a predatory weapon--one that's as automated
as possible, ready to spring. Popular taste expects an easy, invisible, technol-
ogy. Manufacturers reassure their customers that taking pictures demands no
skill, that the machine is all-knowing, and responds to the slightest pressure
of the will. It's as simple as turning the ignition key or pulling the trigger.
"Like guns and cars, cameras are fantasy machines whose use is addictive.
However, contrary to the rhetoric of ordinary language and advertising, they
are not as lethal as guns or cars. For cars being marketed like guns there is
at least this much truth in the hyperbole: except in wartime, cars kill more
people than guns do. The camera does not kill, so it seems to be all a bluff--
like a man's fantasy of having a gun, knife, or tool between his legs. Still, there
is something predatory in the act of taking a picture. To photograph people
is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having
knowledge of them they can never have. To photograph is to turn people into
objects that can be symbolically possessed. To photograph someone is a
sublimated murder, just as the camera is the sublimation of a gun. Taking
pictures is a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time."
--Susan Sontag, "On Photography" (Oct. 1973)