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If the last century was the century of the Photograph, this century is that of Image—branding, surveillance and sousveillance, geo-positioning, sexting, image wars, citizen journalism, happy slapping, selfies, photo-opportunities, medical imaging, augmented realities, video games, snapchat, and, within it all, photography.
Bending the Frame, Fred Ritchin’s third book on the future of the photographic medium, immerses the reader in the complex new ecosystem of the image and poses a series of critical questions that are relevant to today’s image makers and readers alike. He begins by asking: “What do we want from this media revolution? Not just where is it bringing us, but where do we want to go? When the pixels start to settle, where do we think we should be in relationship to media—as producers, subjects, viewers? Since all media inevitably change us, how do we want to be changed?” To help us consider possible answers, Ritchin provides historical grounding for alternative modes of visual storytelling as well as a host of new and emerging strategies to explore the world in more complex, thoughtful, and useful ways. If there are some one billion people roaming the world with cellphone cameras, he asks, what might the role of the professional photographer be? Might there be an urgent need for a metaphotography that contextualizes and makes sense of the myriad images already online? More pointedly, if there is a photography of war, shouldn’t there also be a photography of peace?