Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Painting photographs

In the early days of photography in France, photographers described their work with verbs from the field of painting and spoke of drawing or painting; later, after they had gained self-confidence, they preferred more neutral terms such as making or taking. For the English, on the other hand, the camera is a weapon; photos are shot. This linguistic difference between French and English photographers is perhaps a reflection of the old argument that divided Plato and Aristotle and also Goethe and Newton: does the the eye actively touch [or feel; ertastet in German] objects or is it more a case of objects acting upon the eye.

This is my rough translation of a passage from an article on digital photography and the end of analog photography in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Sept. 5, 2008, B1).