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Photography: The Key Concepts
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"...engages students in the essential theoretical debates around contemporary photography. While not shying away from the necessity for the serious study of theory, not least in the core approaches of semiotics and psychoanalysis, it strikes just the right balance between erudition and plain explanation."
I couldn't have said it better myself... OBVIOUSLY.
Chapter 5 (on Landscape) is worth the price of the entire book. In it, the author explores the distinction between "the picturesque" and "the sublime"... offering surprising insights into how we view the world. Chapter 6 (on still life) is similarly eye opening... as it opens up a fascinating discussion of how still life photography.. and the idolization and idealization of "the object" is explained as central to commercial advertising photography. And the images of advertising are (of course) the very images which construct our view of so much.
Those two chapters (5 & 6) really shine.
What is VERY interesting about this text is that the author explores the nature of photography by way of genres (documentary, portrait, landscape, and still life)... and in so doing, explores the very nature of art itself. It's interesting to consider that traditional fine art mediums such as painting are NEVER called upon to explain their genres.. but photography (late to the fine art party) must always explain WHAT and WHY it is doing. By considering the meanings in these genres, the author does a wonderful job of discussing the meaning of art at all.
This was just a great text.