Jean-Christophe Bailly, in a book on the Fayum mummy portraits, likens the photo booth to "a sort of provisional sarcophagus" where we go to know what it is like to be "ourselves, and nothing else but ourselves." Is that what photo portraits are? (Caption from Jacob Mikanowski's text.)
No product of human industry is infinite, but photography comes close. In 1976, John Szarkowski, the longtime curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, announced, somewhat gnomically, that "the world now contains more photographs than bricks." As a metaphor of plenitude, Szarkowski’s phrase is wonderfully material, suggesting that photographs are just another object in the world, at once essential and interchangeable. As an estimate of quantity though, it now seems impossibly low. If digital photographs count (as by now they must), then the real figure must be several orders of magnitude larger, closer to the number of stars in the galaxy or neurons in the brain. And if I had to guess, I would expect that the majority of these photographs are of faces....
...READ ON at The Awl—an excellent article, long-breathed for the web, by Jacob Mikanowski, about portraits.
(Thanks to Andrew "Lazy Aussie" McDonald)
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A book of interest today:
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