The Territory of Photographs

TWO TEXANS REPORTED AN ENCOUNTER, one lonely night last year, with strange creatures they took to be the likes of Martians. Obviously shaken, they weren’t able to accredit their experience because they could give only an eyewitness account of it. In a court of law, dealing with human actions, such eyewitness testimony may well convince, beyond, as they say, a reasonable doubt. But with an unidentifiable event, 2000 Texans would have been no more credible than two––unless someone had a camera. That instrument has aptly been called “the mirror with a memory.” Seeing is believing, but even the unanimous vision of many individuals finally can’t be substantiated unless some impartially recorded trace of it has been left. The camera was devised to furnish that indisputable trace.

Though infested with many bewildering anomalies, photographs are considered our best arbiters between our visual

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.