Stephen Bull writes, “There is a massive cult among the young for dead media and outmoded appliances, although it rarely extends beyond displaying the image to actually using the bygone format or device.”
The aura for analogue photography still exists. However the drive to master the old ways is no longer there. The digital age provides the ease of one click satisfaction without any of the necessary steps analogue photography requires. Bull describes the “retro” aura surrounding analogue photography. He says that the difference between vintage and retro is that retro refers to the “simulation of a past style, rather than the thing itself.”
This speaks to the fascination of the instantaneous most people have.
Vincent Versace cites famous photographer Ansel Adams and says that if he were alive today he would make the switch from analogue photography to digital.
Versace hints at the merger of the old and the new; suggesting that by bringing together the best of both. Versace brings to the discussion America’s first Lunar landing and the technology utilized to do so. He says that, “Today, the power of those machines is eclipsed by the computing power found in a digital watch.”
Versace goes on to say that we, the consumers, do not take full advantage of the power digital photography provides us with. But that power in many ways is still not up to par with that of analogue photography. Take for example an entry level DSLR in comparison to that of a basic 35mm film camera. The film utilized for the camera captures full frame information, most base level DSLR’s lack full frame sensors, which take the place of film in digital cameras. Because of this less of the scene is visible and the resolution of the image is less that that of a full frame image. The digital process has improved vastly over a relatively short period of time and offers many great advantages that film just cannot. However, the digital capture does not compare to that of the analogue. When considering the quality of the resolution of 4x5 and 8x10 films, there is no competition. There are digital large format cameras but they often times fail because the technology just isn’t there yet. Also because of the overall functionality of large format cameras the range of creativity is widely expansive. Large format cameras posses the ability to tilt and shift, which in turn offer an adjustable depth of field as well as perspective shifts that digital cameras cannot as of yet.
Aside from the limits of the technology there exists what Nicholas Muellner calls “The New Interval”. Muellner says that he does not subscribe to the same ideology as others, that is, he doesn’t believe that there are major differences between analogue and photography. “After all, pictures are still pictures- flat and mute- and we still use cameras to take them.”,
and it is true. The idea behind picture making still stands true, capturing an image still happens the same way. Muellner says that the difference between analogue and digital exists in the experience of making that image. “In the new space of photography, a picture impresses itself upon us before we make it; in the old order, we impressed the image upon ourselves before we knew it.”
With digital photography the importance of sketching out the image before actually shooting it has faded away. There is no need to imagine what could be and what the image will look like afterwards because immediately after the shutter closes it appears on an LCD screen behind the camera. Muellner says that the experience has shifted from what he refers to as a “ritual of hope carried out across darkness, toward a process of assessment and dissemination grounded in luminous clarity.”
The magic of the process has been destroyed; where creativity is born it can exist no more. The idea, which then becomes the image, has to be born in the darkness according to Muellner. When the idea is exposed to light, much in the way the negative is, it transforms into something else. “...the darkness and non-light out of which luminous eventualities manifest themselves punctually and incidentally, emerging out of the dark only to return to it.”
Lyuba Encheva discusses memory as it pertains to digital self-portraits. She references Walter Benjamin, who says that mechanically reproduced pieces of art lose their aura they originally possessed. Encheva quotes Benjamin saying that, “Mechanically produced and reproducible, the old photographic portrait still has a ritualistic function.”
Encheva says that the loss of the ritual also furthers the loss of that aura. She goes on to state that the original authenticity that existed with analogue photography is lost. This occurs because the truth that was once the sole responsibility of the medium is no longer an integral part of the process. Encheva says that because of the infinite possibilities to be made just as well as the original photograph destroys the possibility for “objective representation”.
The endless possibilities of digital photography take way from it’s potential to rise as truly potent art form.
With all of it’s accomplishments, digital photography has many more strides to make to be a considerable force as its older brother is. For while it provides the convenience and ease all other technological efforts do, it lacks the depth and soul that process photography provides. It is missing the quintessential pieces that all photographs need to be considered art; time and thought.