college art association The Traffic in Photographs Author(s): Allan Sekula Reviewed work(s): Source: Art Journal, Yol. 41, No. 1, Photography and the. Tate In Focus research project exploring Waiting for Tear Gas – by Allan Sekula. Allan Sekula. Introduction: Between aestheticism and scientism. How can we work toward an active, critical understanding of the pre- vailing conventions of.

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It is the first universal language addressing itself to all who possess vision, and fraffic characters alike understood in the courts of civilization and the hut of the savage. Nevertheless, the actual functioning of the fascist corporate state demands the sub rosa exercise of a bu- reaucratic rationalism that is profoundly rooted in positivist notions of the com- manding role of science and of technical elites.

Like Cartier-Bresson, the public looked away. But in this, Sander was litde different from other social democrats of his time. Dia- mond read a paper a,lan his work to the Royal Society in This role, the role of cultural mouthpiece, normally partakes in the privileging and accreditation of its own status and that of its patrons and employers, while suggesting that culture exists for everyone, for its own sake.

Inferiority could presumably be measured and located on a continuous calibrated scale. In fact, as noted in the introduction to this In Focus project, it set a precedent for critical protest art.

Allan Sekula – Monoskop

Above all else, the ideological force of photographic art in modern soci- ety may lie in the apparent reconciliation of human creative energies with a scien- tifically guided process of mechanization, Spring 15 suggesting that despite the modern indus- trial division of labor, and specifically despite the industrialization of cultural work, despite the historical obsolescence, marginalization, and degradation of arti- sanal and manual modes of representa- tion, the category of the artist lives on in the exercise of a purely mentalimagina- tive command over the camera.

Shades of American television, but with higher pretensions. In persistently arguing for the harmonious coexistence of optical truths and visual pleasures, in yoking a positivist scientism with a romantic metaphysics, photograph- ic discourse has attempted to bridge the philosophical and institutional separation of scientific and artistic practices that has characterized bourgeois society since the late eighteenth century.

To copy the millions of hieroglyphics which cover even the exterior of the great monuments of Thebes, Memphis, Karnak, and others would require decades of time and legions of draughtsmen.


Of course Sander never proffered so vigorous a mode of physiognomical inter- iin for his photographs. Allan Sekula, Fish Story Rotterdam: I would like to cite one example to emphasize the nature of this thinking. The language of the imperial centers is imposed, both forcefully and seductively, upon the peripheries.

Furthermore, he embodies the oscillating movement between scientism and aestheticism that so pervades the discourse of photography. Traffkc anthropological, criminological, and psychiatric photography, as well as motion study photography used somewhat later in the scientific analysis and management of the labor process, constitutes an ambi- tious attempt to link optical empiricism with abstract, statistical truth, to move from the specificity of the body to abstract, mathematical laws of human nature.

We also thank the Centre Georges Pompidou for hosting the conference out of which this special issue grew, and the Terra Foundation for American Art for generously providing travel assistance. Treated by the vigorous new art history of photography to an expanding pantheon of independent auteurs, we forget that most photographers are aekula workers, makers of fragmentary and indeterminate visual statements.

In preparation for a first visit to the museum Looking for exhibitions and activities Wanting to learn about contemporary art In preparation for a second visit to the museum Doing research for professional reasons Because you like contemporary art Artist or creator looking for inspiration Teacher or student looking for information You would like to collaborate with the Museum friend, sponsor Photography is haunted by two chat- tering ghosts: Waiting for Tear Gasin turn, contends with much more than the significance of Seattle or the evident violence of globalisation.

Photographic meaning is always a hybrid construction, the outcome of an interplay of iconic, graphic, and narrative conventions.

The issue is much more complicated than either extreme would phhotographs us believe. The ideology of autonomous professionalism serves to legitimate and defend career interests while, particularly, in the case of artist-teachers, building on a hollow legacy of romantic individualism. Here and Nowtrans. Despite the sense of impending collapse, of crisis-level un- employment, and imminent world war conveyed by Sander in his radio speech ofhe sustains a curiously inflected faith in the representativeness of bour- geois parliamentary government: Like home, factory, prison, and city streets, school and the media are sites of an intense, if often covert, daily struggle in which language and power are inextricably connected.

My main point here is that The Family wekula Man, more than any other single photographic project, trafffic a mas- sive and ostentatious bureaucratic attempt to universalize photographic discourse. Holmes was both a practical tfaffic of science — an ad- vocate of positivism — and a genteel man of letters — the archetypal Boston Brah- min, Autocrat, Poet, and Professor of the Breakfast Table.


The worldliness of photography is the outcome, not of any immanent universality of meaning, but of a project of global domination.

He also makes a few crucial affirmations over the art education and the role that the artists-teachers are called to play. Photography would seem to be a way of knowing the world directly — this is the scientistic aspect of sekulq faith in the powers of the photograph- ic image.

traffif This conflation of the mythologies of pictorial and political representation may well be fundamental to the public discourse of liberalism. Information Agency and corporations such as Coca-Cola. For Sander, physiognomy was perhaps the highest of the human sciences, which are in turn merely extensions of natural scientific method.

On 12 May Cartier-Bresson travelled to London to report on the controversial coronation of King George IVand his record of the event is striking. Other more powerful challenges to the order of monopoly capitalism need to be discovered and invented, resistances that unite culture and politics.

Eder, History of Photographytrans.

Activities Lectures

While these pictures are exhibited to you, everyone will imagine the extraordinary ad- vantages which could have been derived from so exact and rapid a means of repro- duction during the expedition to Egypt; everybody will realize that had we had pho- tography in we would possess today faithful pictorial records of that which the learned world is forever deprived by the greed of the Arabs and the vandalism of certain travelers.

The statistics that seek to legitimate the exhibition, to demonstrate its value, begin to carry a deeper sense: He was a founding mem- ber of xekula American Medical Association and, in company with Emerson, Lowell, and Longfellow, a tye of ihe Atlantic Monthly. Know more about our architecture and spaces.

I call this the fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labour as soon as they are produced as commodities, and is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities. Top Create a free website or blog at WordPress. This essay is an attempt to understand the contradictory role played by photography within the culture dominated by that class.