Given the complex reality of media and mediation, it is reasonable to question the meaningfulness of treating photography as “one medium.” This article suggests that it is necessary to distinguish between a number of complementary media aspects. It takes an intermedial perspective, based on the belief that one cannot understand photography without thoroughly comparing it to how other media are construed. First of all, photography can be understood in terms of media of production, storage, and distribution. This paper focuses primarily on the aspect of distribution and the critical meeting of the material, the sensorial, and the cognitive. It supports the view that photography, like all other media, should be analyzed in terms of what are referred to here as the four modalities of media. Minute investigation of the material, the sensorial, the spatiotemporal, and the semiotic features of media products that are understood to be photographs makes it possible to discern essential relations to other media. Finally, photography is discussed as qualified media. Media products cannot be fully understood without considering the historical and social processes that form our understanding of how they communicate and produce aesthetic import. At least two different types of qualification dominate our present culture: photography as documentation and photography as art.
About the author
Lars Ellestrom (b. 1960) is a professor at Linnaeus University 〈firstname.lastname@example.org〉. His research interests include intermediality and semiotics. His publications include Divine madness: On interpreting literature, music, and the visual arts ironically (2002); and Media borders, multimodality and intermediality (2010).
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