TUMBLR

A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...



Rob Walker names Errol Morris’ Believing Is Seeing...

Dec 08, 2011
Permalink
Rob Walker names Errol Morris’ Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography) his book of the year:


  The book is not about digital-era image culture, but it’s vital reading for anybody interested in photography as “proof,” or really photography in general. Over six chapters, Morris examines photography, and how we look at it — what we project into images, sometimes including even the intentionality of the photographer, or the morality of the subject. We see things that aren’t there, and miss things that are. “Our beliefs,” he argues in a pivotal passage, “can completely defeat sensory evidence.”
  
  While Believing Is Seeing is a collection of essays, I hesitate to call it that, because the words fail to capture what’s so distinct about Morris’ approach. In each piece he’s on some kind of quest to answer a question, but also, really, to make a point. He interviews experts to whom he is led by his own curiosity, and instead of synthesizing the results, he gives us long, verbatim back and forths, with digressions, equivocations, disagreements. He includes moments when his research dead ends, or contradicts his own hunches. He also gives us lots and lots of visuals.


This pleases me: one of my favorite thinkers about images on one of my other favorite thinkers about images. I’m half-way through the book right now (been saving it for when I was done with my book), and it is intense, wonderful, and yes, sometimes a bit tedious and pedantic.

Rob Walker names Errol Morris’ Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography) his book of the year:

The book is not about digital-era image culture, but it’s vital reading for anybody interested in photography as “proof,” or really photography in general. Over six chapters, Morris examines photography, and how we look at it — what we project into images, sometimes including even the intentionality of the photographer, or the morality of the subject. We see things that aren’t there, and miss things that are. “Our beliefs,” he argues in a pivotal passage, “can completely defeat sensory evidence.”

While Believing Is Seeing is a collection of essays, I hesitate to call it that, because the words fail to capture what’s so distinct about Morris’ approach. In each piece he’s on some kind of quest to answer a question, but also, really, to make a point. He interviews experts to whom he is led by his own curiosity, and instead of synthesizing the results, he gives us long, verbatim back and forths, with digressions, equivocations, disagreements. He includes moments when his research dead ends, or contradicts his own hunches. He also gives us lots and lots of visuals.

This pleases me: one of my favorite thinkers about images on one of my other favorite thinkers about images. I’m half-way through the book right now (been saving it for when I was done with my book), and it is intense, wonderful, and yes, sometimes a bit tedious and pedantic.

29 notes

  1. galleryyuhself reblogged this from austinkleon
  2. rylyr reblogged this from austinkleon
  3. itsjoeevan reblogged this from austinkleon
  4. thepenguinpress reblogged this from austinkleon
  5. sniffyjenkins said: This went on my wish/want/NEED list this morning. Nice.
  6. austinkleon posted this
Subscribe to my newsletter and get new art, writing, and interesting links delivered to your inbox every week.