Critical Theory Quotes

“It shoots out of me like an arrow and pierces me…A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me)” (Barthes, 1993, p26-27)

“Photography …actually blocks memory, quickly becomes a counter memory.” Roland Barthes

“Whatever it grants to vision and whatever it’s manner, a photograph is always invisible: it is not that we see” (Barthes 1993, p.6)

“When it matter, people are prepared to concentrate harder on receiving it. And when it doesn’t matter, photography always stays trivial” (Hodgson, 2012)

“We need to establish some kind of shared vocabulary in which to describe quality…some kind of recognition for things which matter” (Hodgson, 2012)

“In photography, most people, most of the time, can’t really easily tell a picture OF something from a picture ABOUT something” (Hodgson, 2012)

“Photographers, distributors, receivers need to spend more effort learning how to look…codifying your looking into different kinds of looking that will guide you. Without that first effort then concentrated, patient, rather studious looking, all pictures come alike to all viewers” (Hodgson, 2012)

“It is hard to imagine any aspect of contemporary like that has not become visual content, as communications and social relations are increasingly mediated through, or accompanied by, images” (Hand, 2013, p.1)

“Emotion without cognition is blind, cognition without emotion is vacuous” (Scheffler, 1991, p9 )

“Photography is there to construct the idea of us as a great family and we go on vacations and take these pictures and then we look at them later and say ‘Isn’t this a great family?’ So photography is instrumental in creating family not only as memento, a souvenir, but also a kind of mythology” (Larry Sultan: Pictures From Home)

“Christian Metz talks about this idea of the photograph being not quite satisfactory, how it sets up this fetishistic response that necessitates more photographs, and the desire to take a picture. Yet what’s pictured is only possible photographically. It’s not actually real; it’s a kind of myth” (Letinsky in Farstad, 2012)

“Photograph as a melancholic trace of something past” (Letinsky in Farstad, 2012)

“…something about making a picture versus taking a picture.” (Letinsky in Farstad, 2012)

“Theory refers to a coherent set of understandings about a particular issue which have been (or can be) appropriately verified. It emerges from the quest for explanation, offers a system for explanation and reflects specific intellectual and cultural circumstances.” (Wells, 1997, p.22)

“When I was at school I was getting disgusted by the attitude of art being so religious or sacred, so I wanted to make something which people could relate to without having to read a book about it first” (Sherman in Mulvey, 2013)

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

“The best photographs always inspire curiosity, rather than satisfy it.” (Soth in Schuman, 2004)

“Most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats” Diane Arbus

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