reviews

Nancy Burson

Holly Solomon Gallery

Because of its relentless detail, photography is a medium for depicting specimens, not types. When photographs are photomechanically reproduced and distributed through the mass media, they can easily become instances of implicit types, simply by virtue of the fact that they exist in the same form in vast quantities. But they actually deal only with specific moments and limited sections of the visible world. (Because of this, photographs tend not to be used for tasks such as botanical and medical illustration, where typical cases must be shown.)

Despite this, various attempts have been made throughout photography’s history to use the medium to depict generalized concepts, including by constructing, through multiple-exposure overlays, composites of individuals of a given class. Thus composite images of “the twenty richest men in America” or “New York’s thirty worst criminals” were offered in

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