PRINT May 2016

Josephine Pryde

Josephine Pryde, All-in-one I, 2014, C-print, 14 1/4 × 10 3/4". From the series “Isosceles at Ahlbeck,” 2014.

IT IS AS A PRACTITIONER first that I think about photography, and I do not learn anything new without talking to other people who use cameras or who work with the results of what the camera sees. Sometimes the information arrives secondhand.

A friend picks me up at the railway station, and on our drive home through the country, he tells me that his daughter is teaching primary school in a village a little farther south. He mentions in passing that she wears a camera at school, and points to his shoulder, as if she wears it there, on her body: a mechanical eye on her shoulder. Photographs of the children are posted on the school’s website, and the parents can see what their offspring are up to. It seems a very long way from the open countryside through which we are driving, spread out in the dark beyond us. It also seems like an age-old vein of thinking running right through it and the neighboring hills, with their traces of Iron Age forts.

Cameras are all over the place and inside so many objects. They are increasingly concealed within the reality they were invented to depict. As I write that sentence, I notice I choose the verb to depict rather than to record. To record suggests a more documentary approach, whereas to depict could be the brief for a photographer from the art or commercial sphere. How might the term documentary be introduced to reinvigorate a potentially exhausted debate between “art” and “commercial”? If perpetual recording becomes part of the very fiber of our lived universe, and the smartness of technical devices frees the human eye and mind to operate in new registers, then these three historical categories of photography are thrown, at least temporarily, into more exaggerated relief, and not dissolved.

Josephine Pryde is an artist based in London and Berlin.