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Roland Barthes has argued that photography certifies reality, that one "can never deny that the thing has been here. There is a superimposition here: of reality and of the past. And since this constraint exists only for Photography, we must consider it, by reduction, as the very essence [...] of Photography" (76-77). In other words, the photograph affirms the thing that-has-been by virtue of its reproduction. However, photography also allows for trickery and manipulation, since the digital age has opened the door for digitally reproducing that which has never existed. As a result, photographs of the unreal can now subvert viewers' belief and can begin to have as much power and authenticity as the real. Or so it would seem. This subversion of photography as the thing that-has-been is precisely what Lance Olsen wants to question in his novel Girl Imagined By Chance (2002). While the unreal photograph gains credence through the unsuspecting belief of its viewer, this same credence is nonetheless denied when the manipulator fears that he is creating an image--a totality--of absence. Though much of Olsen's novel examines photography's power of manipulation to create a hyperreality, the text ultimately renounces this blurring of the unreal in favor of the real. Arranged around twelve photographs, Girl Imagined By Chance chronicles the life of you and your wife, Andi, who have escaped the confines of New Jersey city life and retreated to a small town in Idaho. This retreat into rural anonymity comes after you grow to fear the consumerist culture of reproduction and have seen how people are "[i]ncreasingly suspicious of the natural, which to them seem[s] increasingly unnatural" and "flock to the unnatural, which to them seem[s] increasingly natural" (201). Such reversal is hardly shocking, though, given how postmodernity achieves a sense of mimicry so advanced that reproductions of the real now seem to possess a realness their precursors never could. You are a computer graphic designer and Andi a photographer, and you are both aware of such shifts in symbolic exchange, so that even though you fear such reproduction, you are also guilty of indulging in it.

Professioneel en technisch
June 22

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