In What Photography Is, James Elkins examines the strange and
alluring power of photography in the same provocative and evocative
manner as he explored oil painting in his best-selling What
Painting Is. In the course of an extended imaginary dialogue with
Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida, Elkins argues that photography is
also about meaninglessness--its apparently endless capacity to show
us things that we do not want or need to see--and also about pain,
because extremely powerful images can sear permanently into our
consciousness. Extensively illustrated with a surprising range of
images, the book demonstrates that what makes photography uniquely
powerful is its ability to express the difficulty--physical,
psychological, emotional, and aesthetic--of the act of seeing.
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