Reading into A Short History of Photography in conjunction with The Author as Producer in Understanding Brecht by Walter Benjamin, I here recall the Artworks as a field of industry when, in the renaissance era, has no longer been acquired by the church agents and artist but it later became available to the public to be producers rather than only viewers. On the other hand and beside photography, almost every form of Art, being a novel, an epic, an article or even a newspaper, the beginning of industrialization has caused in the beginning of production as social relations, as we know, are determined by production relations.
In my response, I don’t think it will be a good idea to replicate the author’s examples and figure of speeches because he was so successful in creating that formation of authors, photographers and painters as to introduce their ideas in a way that it was perfectly presented. Therefore, I would only remark those philosophical timelines that happened to help develop the machine as we now know it.
In 1435 the world as we knew had changed. Artworks became available to everyone and thus became a competitive field for individuals to attain their personal glories. Function, as it was under the church’s demand has no longer dominated Artworks which in return flourished the age of creativity in action rather than activity. A good example can be seen in an old, yet present, form of Art called Iconography when only dedicated monks were allowed to perform this Art in which functionality is the highest form of usefulness. Fortunately, this is no longer the aim. I would rather say that in both papers, the author was trying to indicate that availability is the root of all production in which the place of the intellectual in the class struggle can only be determined, or better still chosen, on the basis of his position within the production process.
Indeed, I would greatly agree with the author’s point of view about the difficulties and obstacles which stood still in front of the development of photography as one of them illustrated blasphemy in the visualization of a human being in a photography which is, unfortunately, still standing as an obstacle in some eastern nations. I can give examples of how many students I knew once in Art school dropped some photography classes just because of their religious inclinations about portraying a human being.
By the time the camera became a human tool for portraying realities, which was a product of the thorough help by authorities to make it available to public, only by that time, the development of the camera started to rapidly take place and time in history. A good example could be seen when the author indicated the rise of the postcard as a reference to photography and further artworks.
Although the paper, a short history of Photography, is not entirely a history paper but a closer look into the philosophy of the history of the development of photography which was clearly formulated in the sense that photography has become a field of creativity in some aspects where it is a scientific approach in other aspects. On the other hand, when the author began to compare between aesthetic realities in both painting and photography to come up later with distinctive features that photography can acquire in which one can experience those fractions of a seconds that can never be attained with painting. This is something to be considered in the age of portraying people as they are, not as we might see them in paintings.
“It is possible, for example, however roughly, to describe the way somebody walks, but it is impossible to say anything about that fraction of a second when a person starts to walk. Photography with its various aids (lenses, enlargements) can reveal this moment.”
The author then ought to describe the development of photography scenery being brought back from the outside where light is available to the inside studio where light is artificial but more controlled and people, as models, started to live inside rather than outside the moment in which, according to Walter Benjamin, certain modish photographers proceed in order to make human misery an object of consumption. This can remind me of the opposite that happened in the development of painting when painters started to go out of studios to the nature and began working on painting landscapes. Both happenings were a result of the idea that the camera obscura came with. The idea that the photographer became masters of perspective after the development in painting perspectives led to more objectivity in the work of photography and as the Author stated that most of the miniatures artists became professional photographers where painters remained not only attached to the technicians of photography but also to the development of the camera obscura in its new form as we now know it.
In conjunction with the other paper, the author as producer, one can experience the relation between the two papers. In this paper, we have two different factors or in other words classes of people. On one hand, we have that class of bourgeois culture that aimed to classify itself from the labor as being a lesser class who aimed to make a revolution against classifications.
The author then indicates one notion in photography where people being photographed were part of the process itself as much as they wanted their photography to appear real that is in my opinion as close, yet opposite, of the current contemporary Arts. In particular, installation Arts that the viewer is a part of the Artwork itself. But in the boy being photographed in a studio where fake surroundings and fake landscapes couldn’t reflect the facial expressions in the boy’s face has thus far failed to examine the same perspective of a painting which later led to the development of studio reality manipulation. This in regard led to the first point of the idea of an Artwork when photographers became a part of the photography scenario itself by manipulating the visual and the time of exposure as if they turned back to be visual painters or in other words, I would say designers.
Although the two articles are somehow far away in their context, but the idea that just like photography, literature is a notion of Art that had the same obstacles photography had once. It is indeed also that both forms depended on the two variable yet constant factor of commitment and quality. As the author indicated that “This formula is, of course, unsatisfactory so long as we have not understood the precise nature of the relationship which exists between the two factors, commitment and quality. One can declare that a work which exhibits the right tendency need show no further quality. Or one can decree that a work which exhibits the right tendency must, of necessity, show every other quality as well.”
The beginning of decentralization of literature as in the author as producer when the author said: “I should like to demonstrate to you that the tendency of a work of literature can be politically correct only if it is also correct in the literary sense”. That is no less important than the decentralization of figures in film and photography that began with the Russians photographing people who had no interest in being photographed which I could recall the idea on montage in newspapers as in the author as producer that all must go back to the press and that only the press is the most is the most decisive point of reference for this process, and that is why any consideration of the author as producer must extend to and include the press.
All this to be considered, literature, photography, press, propaganda and any other form of representation of the past, present and future, can only be attained by the fact that all tools should be available to the classes not only in their technical terms, but also in their human sense that only when the writer or photographer be a part of what they write, then it becomes so easily for them to portrait a closer truth of the present. And here I would like to close up this reading in a joint quotation by Walter Benjamin from both articles.
“It is indeed characteristic that the debate should have hardened most of all over the question of the aesthetics of photography as an art. Events are not changeable at their climax, not through virtue and resolve, but only in their strictly ordinary, habitual course, through reason and practice.