No Ideas but in Things:
Photography at Learning’s Limit
This essay, composed in autonomous but interlinked chapters by Chris Mills and Nicholas Muellner, addresses the relationship between leftist learning and the photographic image. The text considers contemporary works by Sharon Hayes, Joachim Koester and Rainer Ganahl as well as earlier works by Jean-Luc Godard and Alexander Rodchenko. Published in Art Journal, Summer, 2006 (Edited by Patricia Phillips).
Photography, like Marxism, has a convoluted history of struggle with the questions of abstraction and materiality. The medium is mired in two competing rhetorics: that of the machine outside of abstraction, which makes images only from the phenomenon of light bouncing off the thing itself in front of the lens; and that of the abstraction device par excellence, which immediately and pervasively abstracts three dimensions into two and pulls temporality into the abstracted space of perpetual stillness.
No Ideas but in Things (PDF)