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A Short History of Photography

A Short History of Photography [Kindle Edition]

Walter Benjamin , Henry Bond , Stanley Mitchell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Walter Benjamin's groundbreaking essay on photography theory explores the social and psychological dynamics of the mass-media age and is recognised as one of the indispensable works of cultural theory. The classic 1972 translation by Stanley Mitchell is now available in book form for the first time to mark the 80th Anniversary of the original publication, with a new Introduction by writer and photographer Henry Bond.

From the Introduction

"Applied as a modus operandi, any intention to demystify or debunk through a rebuttal of idées reçues--conventional wisdom--often emerges directly from everyday life: anthropological field research made on a tram; in a cafe; at an art exhibition; lazing on a mountainside smoking a joint ('My First Impressions of Hashish'); or, as here, whilst perusing a selection of recently published photo-books."

"Benjamin's essay was first published in German in three consecutive weekly instalments in the arts-to-politics magazine Literarische Welt, in the Fall of 1931, where it appears as 'Kleine Geschichte der Photographie.' Notwithstanding its appearance in the context of a journalistic, features-led current affairs title, Benjaimin's essay is, I claim--I am bold, but I cannot imagine I am alone in this conclusion--the single most significant essay in the quite slim canon of indispensable photo theory texts: there is no later scholar of photo who has not been influenced by it."

"Benjamin's deliberately unassuming 'little' history can and should be opposed to all the grand reference tomes on photography that are packed with so much ('includes more than 3,000 color and black-and-white images,' etc.), but which are ultimately only unwieldy and tedious."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 138 KB
  • Print Length: 28 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005JFRT9Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #184,824 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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5.0 out of 5 stars revealing 20 Jan 2014
By njk
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A short work by a very insightful individual. Shame he died the way he did at the age he did, he would have contributed so much to the comment on 20th century life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great informative read 16 Aug 2013
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A brilliant read on photography theory. It grapples with the poetic and early semiotic functions of photography. This text led Barthes to his wonderful and equally poetic volume,Camera Lucida. In this edition, I found the editors note very useful; though one must be aware of the ideology within the writing and summaries of other texts. In Barthes similar text , I found that the photographs were wonderfully described, so there was no need to reproduce them. Here,however, I would have liked to have seen the photographs running in the text as the author
had intended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps not the easiest translation? 8 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This kindle version of Benjamin's text is very reasonably priced but perhaps not the easiest of translations? I have read excerpts from another translation (I think by Edmund Jephcott or Kingsley Shorter in a collected edition of Benjamin's writings) which was an easier read. I can't say which is closer to the original German though.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For fanatics only 7 Jun 2012
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This is quite a heavy-going read, and would be of interest to students of photography, but maybe not the casual snapper. Being translated from the original makes it seem a little bit stilted at times, and you'd need to have a mental picture of the images mentioned to get the most out of the tome. Mainly academic appeal, I suspect.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Benjamin's early thinking on photography seems weak 30 Aug 2013
By Lakshmi - Published on
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Benjamin makes some interesting points --mainly because his work has come to define thinking in the field of photographic critique. Otherwise a quick and intellectually stingy piece of writing. Noteworthy is the reference to soup and scalability -- Maybe Warhol thought equally poo err my of this essay
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick and easy read. 16 Mar 2013
By Gwen Wilkinson - Published on
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A quick and easy read if you are researching photographic history and theory. Benjamin's style of writing is very accessible. A book of its time, obviously.
5.0 out of 5 stars Precursor to the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. 28 Feb 2013
By martin fritter - Published on
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In some ways, superior to the more famous essay. A must for students of both Benjamin and photography. Oh! I needed two more words! Read it!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lost in translation 2 Oct 2013
By D. J. Schmidt - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Strange translation - seems so totally different in tone from the original essay, as published, 'the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction' in Illusions, by Benjamin w intro by Hannah Arendt, that I am suspicious of the translator's interpretation. This one is accessible, but loses much - in the translation.
At least will be read by many who otherwise would not plough into the more complicated one.
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Photography makes aware for the first time the optical unconscious, just as psychoanalysis discloses the instinctual unconscious. &quote;
Highlighted by 6 Kindle users
However skilful the photographer, however carefully he poses his model, the spectator feels an irresistible compulsion to look for the tiny spark of chance, of the here and now, with which reality has, as it were, seared the character in the picture; to find that imperceptible point at which, in the immediacy of that long-past moment, the future so persuasively inserts itself that, looking back, we may rediscover it. &quote;
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