On Stock Photography and Rainbows

It's a horribly unproductive day. I'm slowly catching up with my blog reading. Since my last post was about one of Owen Hatherley's blogs and it was about three hours ago, you'll be delighted to hear that I've actually made it to his other blog. Progress.

There he contrasts a photography collection from the days of the Weimar Republic, "with their 'overriding impression of utter chaos, civil unrest and the rising tide of Fascism'" with photosets from the present day, including the scenes from the recession I posted earlier and this set only to ask "Could we honestly look at the contemporary photosets linked above and feel much more secure about our own future?"

No, not at all. This is why it baffling me that people feel that as an academic I'm somehow supposed to know the answer. Things are really screwed up, moreover they have been screwed up for a very long time (read Kevin Phillip's Bad Money if you don't believe me), and all the hope and rainbows in the world aren't going to fix the screwed-up system we're in. And Owen's right, contemporary photography is a record of our day, which leads me to wonder about that particular ill of network culture, stock photography. Stock photography is much worse than pornography as at its worst, at least the latter leaves the individual as an object of desire to be consumed. Stock photography devalues the individual utterly, making them little more than a gesture. It's photography for an era in which the visual is emptied of any meaning. Look at the fate of Everywhere Girl, for example.

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