a Philosophy of the Photographic;
genealogy and trajectory
From photography's pornographic origin unto the Muybridge tripwire, through Marey's gun and onto the Gilbreths' little lights, determining how the body moves in image became control of the body through image. To see how it is, became the image of "how it should be" -- and contingently the documentary / journalistic image as how it should not.
Tintypes let / led most North Americans into the frame and from there Benjamin to hydrogen bombs filmed at one million frames per second, in the prettiest color you ever saw. (Human) pseudo-events, hyper-photographic hyper-consumption and pedestrian et al propaganda have pelted us now to the point where the institutions' camera is automatically accepted and their image admired. The man or woman alone with a camera or image in their hand, is neither. These are the essence of distrust. They / we are "free" to share our image though, and we do it without prompt online and anytime. The opportunity to occupy image and to be seen in it at will has revalued privacy / the confession, which in any case constitutes a suspicious activity -- how can we see?
Things / materials too suffer under this same sway. Chemicals are messy. Chemicals are dangerous. Images though are easily insured, and people won't (get) hurt if they're sitting down. Computer hardware and software, digital imaging systems, data storage systems etcetera are constantly updating technological processes which ensure pragmatically pointless consumption thru engineered obsolescence. Thus the image (and one with as little physicality as possible) is best for the economy. It's clean and easy.
Through this incessant photographic flow, the material (and immaterial) components of the individual body eroded. Fluidly fed too by tributaries of animation now CGI, the image-effect surpassed mere body and has swollen into "being". We no longer simply follow the photograph and wish to occupy its perfections. We aspire to the potentials available only as VR avatar -- once there and once vector too, we will be unlimited and deified.
Hope, though, lies here in the one. Some authentic record must be kept. Hope preferably also lies within an educational environment that (re)accepts the value of both material and image; permits the photograph within a "private" function; embraces the voice of the one, and continually reexamines from where all this came, continues to come and where it might be going.
Education in the history and theory of photography must include surveys of its participatory roles in culture, (including pornography), industry, (including ergonomics and labor), science, (especially the behavioral / social sciences), and politics / policing / militarism, (including biometrics and forced imaging). We must consider iconoclasms and aniconism. We must even listen to a Luddite.
Education in photographic processes should include as many processes as are practically and economically feasible. Even when a process cannot be fully facilitated, instructional materials on every relevant process should be obtained, managed and made easily available to all students.