Transforming Images: How Photography Complicates the Picture

Transforming Images: How Photography Complicates the Picture

Transforming Images: How Photography Complicates the Picture

Transforming Images: How Photography Complicates the Picture

Synopsis

Barbara E. Savedoff seeks to discern the distinctive character of photography as an art. Why, she asks, do similar images in paintings and photographs strike us differently? How is our reaction to a photograph of a painting unlike our response to the "real" painting? In this imaginative and beautifully illustrated book, she argues that the way we look at and understand photographs varies dramatically from the way we view other images. Savedoff convincingly demonstrates that photography's perceived realism, along with its unexpected ability to transform its subjects, gives this art form its enigmatic power. Featuring examples of the image-within-an-image, her book explores ambiguities of representation in paintings, in photographs, and in films such as Shall We Dance, Sabotage, and Buster Keaton's Sherlock Junior. The volume also addresses questions concerning altered photographs, photo-realist paintings, animated cartoons, and photographic reproductions. A meditative closing chapter probes the effects of digital alteration on our understanding of images. Savedoff argues that as digital imagery becomes more common, our way of looking at photographs and gauging their impact is irrevocably changed.

Excerpt

Diverse circumstances can change the way we see the world around us, making the familiar strange to our sight. For instance, when flying in an airplane over our hometown we see the buildings, streets, rivers, and hills we encounter daily from an entirely different perspective. Although we know each feature within our view, it is only from an airplane that we can see what things look like from far above, that we can see the outlines and contours of vast tracts of land or the relative size and orientation of buildings that are miles apart. A similar, if less radical, change in the way we see a familiar landscape can be achieved by a fresh snowfall. Each tree, shrub, gate, and pathway may be well known, but each looks uncannily different traced in white.

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