John Berger
[Writer and critic, b. 1926, London, d. 2017, Paris.]

 Human visual perception is a far more complex and selective process than that by which a film records. Nevertheless the camera lens and the eye both register images—because of their sensitivity to light—at great speed and in the face of an immediate event. What the camera does, however, and what the eye in itself can never do is to fix the appearance of that event. It removes its appearance from the flow of appearances and it preserves it, not perhaps forever but for as long as the film exists. 
 With the invention of photography we acquired a new means of expression more closely associated with memory than any other. The Muse of photography is not one of memory’s daughters, but Memory herself. Both the photograph and the remembered depend upon and equally oppose the passing of time. Both preserve moments, and propose their own simultaneity, in which all their images can coexist. Both stimulate, and are stimulated by, the interconnectedness of events. Both seek instants of revelation, for it is only such instants which give full reason to their own capacity to withstand the flow of time. 
 If the photograph isn’t “tricked” in one way or another, it is authentic like a trace of an event: the problem is that an event, when it is isolated from all the other events that come before it and which go after it, is in another sense not very authentic because it has been seized from that ongoing experience which is the true authenticity. 
 A radial system has to be constructed around the photograph so that it may be seen in terms which are simultaneously personal, political, economic, dramatic, everyday and historic. 
 The way photography is used today both derives from and confirms the suppression of the social function of subjectivity. Photographs, it is said, tell the truth. From this simplification, which reduces the truth to the instantaneous, it follows that what a photograph tells about a door or a volcano belongs to the same order of truth as what it tells about a man weeping or a woman’s body. 
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