19 Feb Fifth Moment of Photography
Using understandings of Cruz and Meyer’s “fifth moment of photography,” explain what Sontag means when she states, “Photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe. They are a grammar and, even more importantly, an ethics of seeing” (1977, 3).
While I understand what Sontag was getting at with his statement, I’m not sure he was quite on the right path. There is no doubt that photography and videography has expanded our capability to view the world, there by expanding what we have to look at and bringing us into places, cultures, and ways of life that without this technology would have been unreachable. There are definitely aspects of ethical boundaries, cultural boundaries, and even political and religious boundaries that have been pressed and even crossed while sharing stories with the world in the medium of photography.
I think what Sontag may have missed, and what the progression of photography over time demonstrated in the reading by Cruz and Meyer shows is the constant search of truth inherent in human nature. If we take a moment to break down two forms of the word truth, the Roman Veritas and the Greek ἀλήθεια (aletheia), we come up with the terms: vir or man, a or not, and lethia or forget. So, through this linguistic breakdown, we can define the search of truth in essence as a search of man to not forget; an affordance of permanency or at least the ideal of permanency offered in photography meets the very essence of that search. As we memorialize our world, our daily lives through the lenses of our smart phones we are in some ways no different from the ancient Greeks and Romans, sculpting, drawing and building temples of their history – never to forget.