On Photography

Whether it’s Ansel Adams’s Landscapes (Middle), Gary Winongrand’s Cityscapes (Lower Left), Annie Leibovitz’s Lifestyle photos (Right), or Walker Evans photographs of rural poverty (Upper Left); or any number of a multitude of other current or past photographers: I’ve always felt that photography is about enframing (Heidegger), about that sense that one is exposed to something that has been framed within/by technology – but what; a view, a description, a statement of fact or imagination. Is this interpretation (hermeneutics) or against it (non-representational), real or irreal, etc. Is the photographer trying to destroy the gap between the camera’s eye and the scene, bring thought and being together in unison, one? Or, is she producing gaps between form and content, revealing the inherent contradictions and antagonisms in reality, the obstruction of the Real itself that will not let the photographer in on the secret of the world? The best photographers seem to situate themselves in the gaps and cracks of the world, the slippages in things allowing them to speak and emerge on their own, stand their shining in their simplicity as things without us; and, yet, at other times we see the power of the human emerge, too: the supple interweaving of certain lines of light and shadow that suddenly lift emotion from its core hideaway and reveal the patterns of reality in ways that nothing else in the world could. So that this enframed technology of the photograph is both produced gap and its destruction, a twisting of the anamorphic truth that cannot come by way of direct or indirect appeal. This notion of what a photographer is up to in what they’ve framed and caught in their slice of the Real – what is the action, the event being portrayed. Is it light, shadow, movement, texture, grains, color (trope of effect or cause?), the deformation of things or their ineffableness – mystery. It’s this sense of struggle not with the medium itself but with the actual forms being captured in the act of disclosure – it’s almost like pornography of the Real, as if one could capture the raw naked power of its lures, traps, and investiture as it suddenly juts its ugly or beautiful head out of the thick soup of things… to reveal the force of appearance rather than appearance per se; to reveal as in apocalypse/revelation a happening in movement in still life slices just at the point where time, space, and substance come together in the unique distillation of the Real. One can never truly capture it in a photo, what one captures is the hint — as in Zen of the frisson of the momentary aura (Benjamin) of the world in its passing… nothing is redeemed, everything is loss, pure loss… only the sparks and embers in their slow burn dazzle us with the supreme delights of the photographer’s art.

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Magic Leap: Reality as Immersive Technology


On Wired is an article about the company Magic Leap developing the future of immersive technologies that will hook you. As Jessi Hempel tells it:

Visiting Magic Leap was like stepping through the fictional wardrobe in Professor Kirke’s house that first landed Lucy in the colorful chaos of Narnia. The company was still working out of temporary offices on the fourth floor of the Design Center of the Americas, a sprawling complex of eerily quiet showrooms where interior designers showcase furniture, fabrics, and flooring. While WIRED videographer Patrick Farrell parked the car, I entered the building and wandered to the back of the cavernous main hall, past a security guard who didn’t look up, hung a right, walked to the elevators, rode up, walked down another hall and around an atrium. I didn’t pass a single person. Then I arrived at a tiny reception area and stepped inside. There was so much going on!

There were people everywhere. Fresh off raising $794 million in funding—likely the largest C round in startup history–Magic Leap had been hiring faster than it could find seats for its growing cadre of designers and engineers and had amped up its already packed demo schedule. Just behind me, a leaper, as Magic Leap’s employees are called, handed a visitor a clipboard to review an NDA. To the left, another leaper ushered a pair of fashionably dressed guys out of a glass-walled conference room, presumably also en route to a demo.

When I ask him how Magic Leap works, he says it creates digital light field signals that mimic the way sight works. He explains that everyone’s brain has “an amazing world-building engine.” We call it sight, but really the brain is a big computer that absorbs data through sensors called your eyes and processes it to build models of the objects in your field of vision. “We basically tried to clone that and make a digital version of that,” he says. “We talked to the GPU”—graphic processing unit—“of the brain and asked it to make our stuff.”

Read more: I Went Inside Magic Leap’s HQ and Here’s What I Saw…