In Plato's Cave.


Photos are reproductions of reality. Well, are they? Susan Sontag assumes that photographs merely record a fragmentary or miniature version of the real world and carry an interpretation of the factual world within themselves. Photos thus do not only reflect our way of perceiving things, they also influence it: by teaching us a new visual code, photographers change our concepts of what is worth looking at. A photographer appropriates his object. The „objectivity“ of the camera lens makes the photograph a powerful medium - one which is supposed to convey the truth. Susan Sontag presents and discusses the power - and at the same time the impotence - of photography, which has often been used to serve political, moral and propaganda purposes. This text is also available in German.
Der Text als: pdf (83 KB)

Sontag, Susan

Susan Sontag was born in New York in 1933. She received her B.A. from the College of the University of Chicago and did graduate work in philosophy, literature, and theology at Harvard University and Saint Anne's College, Oxford. Her books and essays cover a broad range of topics, and she is now one of America's best-known and most admired writers. On 28 December 2004 Susan Sontag passed away in New York. Her publications include four novels (The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover, In America), a collection of short stories (I, etcetera), a play (Alice in Bed) and six works of nonfiction (Against Interpretation, On Photography, Illness as Metaphor, and others).