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Counterparts: Form and emotion in Photographs

“Photography more than any other of the visual arts risks being vulgar, because it is dependent upon actuality. Since vulgarity is among the most powerful inspirations to the literary sensibility, this is an asset when the motivation of a photograph is as much literary as visual. The camera has practically no ability to distinguish between states of dreaming and states of fantasy or between discomfort and agony.

Despite this handicap, photography is a medium that does invite the viewer to create his own fictions around a picture, and these fictions can be as convoluted as any novel. The fictions produced by photographs are of a different variety from those of words, and in the end, only some pictures are worth a thousand words.

Conversely an equally small number of words are worth a thousand pictures.”  Man Ray, Self Portrait, Boston, 1964, p. 361