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"I’m fascinated at the fact you could be looking at your phone at an image from another continent in one second, and then look up an you’re in the middle of dinner at a restaurant in New York. Or how you can find out that an old friend went to a concert last night but you haven’t seen them in months. And on top of that you find out about a far-away tragedy, without even having to scroll down. It’s pretty eerie, as if everything is just floating along, content, on these multiple, disconnected planes. A whole other space is created, and there’s this nostalgia for something that doesn’t exist. Maybe the novelty is wearing off though."

— Charlie Rubin, interview with Jörg Colberg, Foam Magazine #36


Photographers are like other artists too in being reticent because they are afraid that self-analysis will get in the way of making more art. They never fully know how they got the good pictures that they have, but they suspect that a certain innocence may have been necessary. The poet X.J. Kennedy speaks of his in his amusing verse “Ars Poetica”:

The goose that laid the golden egg
Died looking up its crotch
To find out how its sphincter worked.
Would you lay well? Don’t watch.

The main reason that artists don’t willingly describe or explain what they produce is, however, that the minute they do so they’ve admitted failure. Words are proof that the vision they had is not, in the opinion of some at least, fully there in the picture. Characterizing in words what they thought they’d shown is an acknowledgement that the photograph is unclear – that it is not art.

C.S. Lewis admitted, when he was asked to set forth his beliefs, that he never felt less sure of them than when he tried to speak of them. Photographers know this frailty. To them words are a pallid, diffuse way of describing and celebrating what matters. Their gift is to see what will be affecting as a print. Mute.


— Robert Adams, Writing, from Why People Photograph