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Photography RebornReview - Photography Reborn
Image Making in the Digital Era
by Jonathan Lipkin
Harry N. Abrams, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Nov 7th 2006 (Volume 10, Issue 45)

Lipkin's Photography Reborn is a nicely illustrated survey of the use of digital photography in art.  The text accompanying the pictures is straightforward and clear, and there is not much of it.  Lipkin explains what digital photography is and how the images can be manipulated using computer programs, so that it often lacks the direct correspondence between the image and reality that we expect from conventional photography.  He uses many examples, including works by Tibor Kalman, Daniel Lee, Nancy Burson, Chris Dorley-Brown, Jason Salavon, and Meg Cranston.  The work of other photographers depicts the world in ways that are also unconventional, yet might be thought to in some ways show reality in a new and more profound way: images from science are prime examples, and there is also the spectacular work of Andreas Gursky.

The discussion of human portraiture is especially interesting.  Many artists use digital photography to distort the images of the human body: Lipkin includes Susan Silton, Paul Thorel, Thomas Ruff, Dieter Huber, and Maki Kawakita.  Other artists create whole new people; for example, Keith Cottingham has a series of fictitious portraits, and HoriPro, Inc created Kyoko Date, a virtual pop star.  These works are striking for the technical creativity and surprising realism. 

Lipkin devotes three chapters to artists who use digital technology to create visually surprising and fantastic images.  The book has many illustrations, and of these,  Loretta Lux's pictures of children and the images of Aziz & Cucher playing with human skin as a covering are wonderful and rather disturbing examples.  The "Action Half Life" series of AES+F is also very striking. The final chapter discusses digital photography as documentary, and refreshingly discusses the webcam phenomenon such as Jennifer Ringley's Jennicam.org and the sexual self-photography of Natacha Merritt.

Lipkin's text does not advance any strong aesthetic claims about digital work, but it is full of enthusiasm.  Its main use will be to introduce readers to previously unfamiliar artists.  Photography Reborn is worth checking out.

 

 

© 2006 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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