Understanding (1994)

Tradition and the Unpredictable: the Allan Chasanoff Photographic Collection
This is not a collection of “chestnuts,” famous images, famous people or famous artists. To be sure, there are those, but there are also unknown and less documented pictures, some by remarkable photographers whom very few will ever know.
Each image, in some way, has caused Allan Chasanoff to stumble. It fooled his eye at least for a moment, raised a question about perception, or triggered a…



With Luigi Ballerini 1999
In ordinary speech fruit is what you can eat for dessert. For Botanists, it is part of the plant that protects and eventually releases the seeds, enabling the continuation of the species. For botanists, therefore, a pumpkin is a fruit, and so are tomatoes, and peppers, while carrots and potatoes are roots. For green-grocers instead, and their shoppers, tomatoes are mere vegetables, on a par with potatoes and cauliflowers. Apples on the other hand and pears, bananas, strawberries, and gooseberries are fruits for both botanists and the…


Aaron Siskind

An Appreciation, 1991
“The best memory of the celebration is the cake.”
Those who enter this gallery hardly need to be reminded of Aaron Siskind’s contributions to Photography and Art. Therefore, I celebrate him here, as a friend. I am not alone in my memories as Aaron counted among his colleagues an unusually large extended family of admirers. All of us who keep him in our hearts are fortunate that our mourning of his loss is offset by the knowledge that he lived in the fullest of ways and died simply…


Metabolism of Photographic Truth in the Digital Age

From digi, Volume 1, Number 3. Hong Kong Arts Council, 1994
“I’m not interested in truth, only my own reality.”—Carlo Uva
“Lo, there shall be more stars as telescopes get more and more perfect.” —Gustave Flaubert
“The only reason to make a photograph is to see what something looks like as a photograph.” —Garry Winogrand
We want to believe that photographs record real events. Every photograph, even the most inconsequential snapshot, gains value in the culture as time passes. The further time takes us from the moment…


Maxims from the Chair (2004)

The Do’s
  • -Do something old in a new way
  • -Do something new in an old way
  • -Do something new in a new way, Whatever works . . . works
  • -Do it sharp, if you can’t, call it art
  • -Do it in the computer—if it can be done there
  • -Do fifty of them—you will definitely get a show
  • -Do it big, if you can’t do it big, do it red
  • -If all else…


Standing Tall: Undoubted Vision

Speech given in appreciation of William Klein
William Klein Symposium, Cornell University, 1992
What is to follow is an appreciation of an unflinching talent. Myself, I am a confrontational, modernist-leaning photographer. I have a perspective from the vantage point of the waning of Postmodernism and the dawning of what, for lack of a better term, can be called Post-Postmodernism. These terms are really only used here to establish a time frame between the peak of William Klein’s work, to its rediscovery, to its current lionization.
In the course of history,…


Image Revolution (1996)

Freedom of will may be a fabricated state of mind- illusion- but one that allows us to act opposed to being acted on. It is here as image makes and consumers that our education begins anew. As photographers we can abandon our old ways of thinking about the authority of the image – it’s cloak of truth and uniqueness. Maintaining this investiture in it makes photography a precious commodity disavowing the inherent properties of duplication, reproduction and interaction that should be allowing to run more freely. In understanding…


Viaggio in Italia

Catalog essay for Luigi Ghirri
Exhibition, Julie Saul Gallery, 2001
It is always great folly to write about photographs, for the experience of them always transcends description. This is particularly true of really enigmatic photographs such as those of Luigi Ghirri. Like all good art, Ghirri’s photographs are not about specific things but transfer into their content, the process by which they were made. Thus I cannot address the photographs individually but instead ask the viewer to consider them carefully, particularly in their relation to each other. The statement…


From the Past: Perspectives on the Future

The Imaging Revolution, speech at Ohio University Athens, 1986
When I left college as an English and journalism major, and turned away from those disciplines in order to pursue my passion, photography; I had the self-deluding idea that I could make coherent my personal and private thoughts within the scope of the visual language of the print and communicate them more effectively than I could as a desk-bound writer. I thought that photography offered an independent and equally valuable means of communication that would save…


Digital Humanism

Charles H. Traub & Jonathan Lipkin
for more essays on the Realm of the Circuit visit www.metaforas.org
Published in The Education of an E-Designer, Stephen Heller, ed. Allworth Press, 2001
As members of a thinking community, we must accept this premise: we are no longer anticipating a revolution. It has already happened. It is time to build on its promise, transcend the inevitable losses, and become more comfortable, more human, with the change now wrought.
This revolution has created the possibility of reinventing ways lost in history of interacting, thinking and creating. This…