OF LATE, A LONG PERSISTENT INWARD VISION in photographic art has been gaining attention among those who assume the camera works best as a spontaneous witness of the social surfaces around us. If one were to hazard a mere formula to distinguish the two outlooks today, it would have to do with their disparate shading of photographic facts that in themselves resist any narrative alignment. One tendency, the dominant, is to let the material be itself, and yet to operate with a special, selective congruence to it that must allow for a current of open-ended meanings. André Kertész, Robert Frank, and Lee Friedlander are photographers who have angled for scattered, evocative stoppages of action within an otherwise apparently faceless traffic. The other inclination is to make overt enigmas of these phenomena, to eke from them nuances of a world consistently other than our own, or askew from it.

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