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Photography will always be a lesser medium than paint

An Intelligence Squared debate on the me

In the beginning was the challenge: how to use eye, hand and brain to represent the significance of the world to our fellow humans. There followed the sinuous cave paintings of Perigord; the rigid, sparkling mosaics of Ravenna; the stunning Renaissance discovery of perspective. And the fellow humans marvelled at the dexterity of hand and the conceptual ingenuity of eye and brain behind such visions, and glorified them as art.

But how do we feel now that the machine has interposed itself between ourselves and the world? Now that the dexterity of hand has been replaced by the finger’s click on the camera shutter? Now that the imagination of eye and brain has been confined within the rectangle of the viewfinder? If there is great art here, doesn't it lie in the creation of the camera itself rather than the pictures it takes? Is it not the genius of the scientists who devised the camera’s intricate mechanisms and powerful lenses that we should now marvel at, rather than the output of the adepts who operate the machine?

Or are we still too much in thrall to the notion of art held by our pre-industrial forbears? Shouldn't we just accept that art has been freed of its ancient constraints, and acknowledge that the finest photographers offer us an interpretation of the world quite as original as that of the great painters; that in the digital age, photography is now the medium that matters?


Adrian Anthon Gill | talks | www


Date and Time:

1 November 2010 at 6:00 pm


2 hours



Phillips de Pury
Howick Place

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Organised by:

Intelligence Squared
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Standard tickets £25.00, Students £12.50

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Additional Information:

Doors open and art viewing at 6.15pm. The event will begin at 7pm and finish at 8.45pm.

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