returning to the roots

When I was in-between digital cameras I decided that I would only use the Leica as a street camera on my photo trip to Tasmania. I'd given up on a digital Leica --eg., an M9--and decided that I would work with film Leica until a reasonably price range-finder style digital camera came along at a reasonable price. 

 It was a return to my roots as it were when  our visual culture was moving rapidly into a time where the new means of digital and electronic imaging were coming to supersede those of the age of mechanical reproduction. The emergence of 'digital imaging' and a new 'digital photography' was widely sensed as a moment of special significance in the history of media and visual representation,  and this moment was celebrated as a release from the constraints of photographic representation. We had entered a  'post-photographic era'. 

Others responded  to digital image technology in terms of  a cultural panic in which the values and practices of photography were seen to be threatened. This response expressed  a fear  for the demise of photographic truth. The new malleability of the image, it was argued,  would  eventually lead to a profound undermining of photography's status as an inherently truthful pictorial form. 

This  negative response was primarily from those in   documentary, photojournalism and related forms of 'straight' photography where photographic realism, photography's truth value, and its use as evidence and testimony, are particularly high. 

This position conveniently ignored  that photographic history showed that manipulation is integral to photography and that photographic truth is based upon a set of historically and culturally specific beliefs (eg., positivism) about photographs as documents. 

We then had polarised debates of the kind which saw photography as 'old, bad and limited' versus the digital as 'new, good and open- ended'; a debate that ignored the whole range of decisions, conventions, codes, operations and contexts which constitute photographic meaning.