Summary Of On Photography By Susan Sontag

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With the touch of a single click a picture is taken and forever revitalized. Photography takes the essence of reality and seals it into two parts, one as memory and the other as an object. Susan Sontag’s didactic text “On Photography” digs deep into the meaning of photography and claims that it has unlimited power within modern society. Her exclamation that “cameras are fantasy-machines” exerts the idea that photography brings the world closer together, yet seems so distant as if it were all but an illusion. Sontag starts off her text by asserting that humans are still in Plato’s cave. She argues that humans become obsessed with power and knowledge, through photography one controls the mechanism of dominion, by exerting our experience and…show more content…
In the literal sense reality is impossible to capture, but Sontag explains it as a way of preserving the past, handling the present, and preparing for the future. In addition, Sontag divides photography into a positive and negative force, one that falls in our control, while the other vanishes from sight. She believes that society becomes obsessed with capturing the moment, a form of nihilism that seeks to discard the present and reject the notion of time. Therefore, Sontag perceives “cameras [as] the antidote and the disease, a means of appropriating reality and a means of making it obsolete” (Sontag 122). This leads to her fear that the future might compromise of an excessive amount of consumption of images which will lead towards the exhaustion of reality. While it’s true that the world is progressing more towards the “image-world” as Sontag describes it, it is inevitable to argue that imagery plays a huge role in today’s world. In addition, Sontag offers a much more radical approach towards society’s consumption of images, which is further evident by her comparison of photography to rape. Her words here tend to contradict as she explains the necessity of conserving images, but fails to offer a solution to…show more content…
For Sontag to “photograph people is to violate them, see them as they never see themselves,” this creates a form of imprisonment where the victim, the photographed is in total control of the photographer (Sontag 10). The camera acts as a gun, not to kill but hold power over the individual and present them in a demeaning manner. Violence of this type is most evident in the media who hover like vultures seeking its prey. Sontag’s statement that “cameras are fantasy-machines” applies to this scenario in the aspect that the “fantasy” is the photographer’s intentions and how they use the image (Sontag 10). It’s hard to accept a fact that an image can hold power, but more so the revelation that it’s a form of occupancy. Therefore, the use of a camera is addictive and perverse, however my statement would incite disagreement from Sontag as well as Roland Barthes who might explain that through imagery we create a fantasy, a right everyone holds to explain that which is before their eyes because “photographs cannot themselves explain anything, [but are] are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy” (Sontag

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