What Is This Thing
Called Photography?


How well do any of the claims on the following pages hold up? Select one or more of the quotations and then set it or them against several of the photographs. How well does a particular quotation illuminate, how much does it obscure what is going on within the pictorial spaces of the photographs you have chosen to examine. Try to tie the success or failure of a given claim as closely as possible to certain features in the photographs themselves. What is it about, say, this or that photograph that makes this or that claim especially apt and/or what it about a given photograph that makes this or that claim seem less appropriate or even inappropriate?

Many of the general claims about photography, about what photography can and cannot do, about what it "in fact" does, about its peculiar take on the world or about the differences between it and painting always seem to be more true of some photographs than others. It is useful to notice the gradations of truth in a general claim, to notice the ways it is more true of some photographs and less true of others as if the person who made the generalization in the first place had some but not all photographs in mind or only a somewhat circumscribed and narrowly defined sample.

In exploring why a given claim is, say, more true of one photography but less true of another, it is possible to make discoveries, for it is often (and only) in the space between the more true and less true that real insights are to be had.

Make a case for the appropriateness and perhaps, more significantly, the inappropriateness of one or more of the claims about photography on the following pages in relation to the photographs you have chosen, offer what you think are several objections that might be made to your case, and respond to them.

In thinking of objections to your case, think of the best possible objections that someone on the other side might be able to come up with, i. e., give yourself a hard time. If you can respond to a contrary position at its strongest rather than at its weakest point, that can only help to strengthen your own position and make it that much more persuasive.

Papers should be between 5 and 7 pages (double-spaced) in length or longer if you believe it is absolutely necessary.

Please number pages.

We would like to have two copies, marked COPY ONE and COPY TWO.

Papers should be stapled, not held together by
Paper CLIP, Elmer's GLUE, Dentyne GUM,
SPIT, James BOND or Origami FOLD.

Papers are due a week and a half after return from Winter Break on Tuesday, March the 6th, at the start of class.