All the names of (photographic) history

I am currently working on a section of the ‘dissertation that never ends’ that focuses on the artistic practices the employ Google Street View in their practice. While I understand that I am seemingly ‘hardwired’ to see Deleuzian sentences that give support to the (potential) importance of the artist and their ability to provide us, the public, with a ‘view of chaos’ ; I am particularly astonished when the artists, more or less, state this on their own.

Within the panoramas, I can locate images of gritty urban life reminiscent of hard-boiled American street photography. Or, if I prefer, I can find images of rural Americana that recall photography commissioned by the Farm Securities Administration during the depression.I can seek out postcard-perfect shots that capture what Cartier-Bresson titled “the decisive moment,” as if I were a photojournalist responding instantaneously to an emerging event.At other times, I have been mesmerized by the sense of nostalgia, yearning, and loss in these images—qualities that evoke old family snapshots. I can also choose to be a landscape photographer and meditate on the multitude of visual possibilities. Or I can search for passing scenes that remind me of one of Jeff Wall’s staged tableaux. (Rafman 2009)

Jon Rafman, photographer and ‘author’ of Nine Eyes, a body of work that culls material from Street View seems to evoke the schizophrenic burst of ‘all the names of history’. His ability to cull from Street View a range of impulses appears to free him from the subjectivizing practice of ‘picture-making’ in which the artist-as-author overcodes the scene according to their habitual way of seeing and interpreting, freeing him to draw from the virtual photographic field of aesthetic utterances.

I then simply find myself saying, ‘thanks for that(!).’

Rafman, J. 2009. IMG MGMT, in ArtFCity,

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