Susan Sontag was a writer and lover of photography who spoke and wrote on it often. I came across her name in a few articles I have read and decided to visit her works directly to see how well her understanding of photography related to my own. Below is a select section of an interview with Susan Sontag, following that are a few quotes.
It also does queer things to our sense of time. Never before in human history did people have any idea of what they looked like as children. The rich commissioned portraits of their children, but the conventions of portraiture from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century were thoroughly determined by ideas about class and didn’t give people a very reliable idea of what they had looked like.
Movius: Why do you think we remember the single photograph better?
Sontag: I think it has to do with the nature of visual memory. Not only do I remember photographs better than I remember moving images. But what I remember of a movie amounts to an anthology of single shots. I can recall the story, lines of dialogue, the rhythm. But what I remember visually are selected moments that I have, in effect, reduced to stills. It’s the same for one’s own life. Each memory from one’s childhood, or from any period that’s not in the immediate past, is like a still photograph rather than a strip of film. And photography has objectified this way of seeing and remembering.
“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
“Today everything exists to end in a photograph.”
“Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality…One can’t possess reality, one can possess images–one can’t possess the present but one can possess the past.”
“The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.”