A fascinating look at the perils and possibilities of photography in a digital age.
Ritchen (In Our Own Image) offers a supple, politically astute and fascinating account of the dizzying impact of the digital revolution on the trajectory of the photographic image that, like all new media, changes the world in the very act of observing it. The myth of photographic objectivity has concealed fakery as old as the medium itself, he notes, but in the digital era, concealment and manipulation come to shape the very experience of the image as sui generis: "The lens has dimmed and a distorting mirror has been added." All is not lost for photography as a truth-telling medium, however: the author suggests methods for verifying the authenticity and provenance of images through footnoting and labeling. Moreover, Ritchen stresses how digital media, linked through the Web, offer an appropriative and hypertextual approach to photography that promises to reinvent the embattled authorial image into an evolving collaboration, conversation and investigation among an infinite number of ordinary people. Cautiously optimistic, the author poses provocative questions throughout, including whether digital technology and Web 2.0 together provide a means for regaining a sense of the "actual" from deep within a "virtual" world. (Dec.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.