In his essay “Photography,” Kracauer critiques the abundance of photographic images in illustrated newspapers stating, “The blizzard of photographs betrays an indifference toward what the things mean.”[i] Current digital imaging technologies have turned this blizzard into a complete whiteout. Never before have people had such access to image-making technologies and the ease with which the images are now disseminated. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the snapshot has evolved little and remains a visual cliché - a banal vessel of personal sentimentality.
In this paper I will discuss the use and fetishization of snapshot images in both my own studio practice and by other contemporary artists. I will focus on simulacra as the process through which the meaning of a place or thing becomes distorted, inflated, and manipulated as its representation propagates, and how the repetition inherent to snapshot imagery transforms the relationship between the thing photographed and its meaning. As a point of departure I will examine an archive of snapshot images of the disused train station, the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit as an example of how a place becomes both an icon and a cliché through the repetition of its representation.
[i] Sigfried Kracauer, “Photography,” The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays, Harvard University Press, 1995,p. 58
Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology
Tibbs, Millee, "Snapshots, Clichés and Simulacra" (2012). Mid-America College Art Association Conference 2012 Digital Publications. 10.