The World is Kind of Beautiful

Albert Renger-Patzsch, Hans-Sachs-Haus, Gelsenkirchen, 1927

Andreas Feininger, Power lines from Hoover Dam spanning the Black Mountains, 1948

Bernd & Hilla Becher, Gas Tanks, 1983-92

Edward Burtynsky, Oxford Tire Pile 4, Westley, California, USA, 1999

Michael Wolf, Architecture of Density #91, 2006

Brian Ulrich, Richland Mall, 2009, after Stephen Shore, 1973

Gerd Mittelberg, Großfunkstelle Nauen, 2011

Walter Benjamin, The Author as Producer:
“But now let us follow the subsequent development of photography. What do we see? It has become more and more subtle, more and more modern, and the result is that it is now incapable of photographing a tenement or a rubbish-heap without transfiguring it. Not to mention a river dam or an electric cable factory: in front of these, photography can now only say, ‘How beautiful.’ The World Is Beautiful – that is the title of the well-known picture book by Renger-Patzsch in which we see New Objectivity photography at its peak. It has succeeded in turning abject poverty itself, by handling it in a modish, technically perfect way, into an object of enjoyment. For if it is an economic function of photography to supply the masses, by modish processing, with matter which previously eluded mass consumption – Spring, famous people, foreign countries – then one of its political functions is to renovate the world as it is from the inside, i.e. by modish techniques.
Here we have an extreme example of what it means to supply a production apparatus without changing it. Changing it would have meant bringing down one of the barriers, surmounting one of the contradictions which inhibit the productive capacity of the intelligentsia. What we must demand from the photographer is the ability to put such a caption beneath his picture as will rescue it from the ravages of modishness and confer upon it a revolutionary use value. And we shall lend greater emphasis to this demand if we, as writers, start taking photographs ourselves.”

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Walter Benjamin, Avtor kot proizvajalec:
“Sedaj pa se ponovno posvetimo fotografiji in njeni poti. Kaj vidite? Postaja vse bolj niansirana, vse sodobnejša, in rezultat je, da ne more več fotografirati najemniškega bloka in niti kupa smeti ne, ne da bi ju polepšala. Da ne govorimo o tem, da bi bila sposobna o jezu ali tovarni kablov povedati kaj več kot to: svet je lep. Svet je lep – takšen je naslov znane knjige Renger-Patzscha, v kateri vidimo vrhunec sodobne fotografije. Uspelo mu je, da je celo iz bede ustvaril predmet užitka, ko jo je prikazal na modno perfekcionističen način. Kajti če je ekonomska funkcija fotografije ta, da občinstvu modno obdelane približa vsebine, ki so se mu prej izmikale – pomlad, slavni ljudje, tuje dežele -, potem je ena izmed njenih političnih funkcij ta, da svet obnavlja od znotraj navzven – z drugimi besedami: modno – takšnega, kakršen je.
Pred seboj imamo drastičen primer, kaj pomeni, če proizvodnemu aparatu dobavljamo material, ne da bi ga spreminjali. Če bi ga spreminjali, bi to pomenilo, da ponovno odstranimo eno izmed tistih preprek, da premostimo eno izmed tistih protislovij, ki nadevajo okove proizvodnji inteligence. V tem primeru gre za prepreko med pisavo in podobo. Od fotografa moramo zahtevati sposobnost, da svojemu posnetku doda besedilo, ki ga bo iztrgalo iz modnega konzuma in mu podelilo revolucionarno uporabno vrednost. To zahtevo pa bomo izrazili najodločneje, če se bomo sami – pisatelji – lotili fotografiranja.”

Devo – Beautiful World



Tags: Revisionisms

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