Historians like to structure modern art according to its presumed order of movements and phases. That structure is now eroded within the myriad compartments of photographic culture, whose workers are apt to put on more or less convincing airs of artistic consciousness. Undeclared motives now mingle in a traffic of untoward expressions. Innovational modern art never had a strict genre structure to break down and depart from. For want of a new territory to conquer, the fictional energies of art have penetrated into the factual and material basis of photography. Presently, we see that a picture land has appeared, expansive yet uncharted in its shape. We behold acts of witness that are frequently muffled and media messages that are increasingly scrambled. “High” and “low” do nowadays get on with each other, sometimes easily, yet sometimes not. What remains clear is photography’s dependence upon the indispensable constraints that it is leaving behind. Without them, we would be hard put to notice the difference between how things look and the way they are made to look.
- Max Kozloff, from ‘Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography’.