Introduction to GUP #45 - Evolution




“Change alone is unchanging,” spoke the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. And so it goes. Nearly 2500 years after his death, our world is incomprehensibly changed but the truth of his statement holds steady.

How are we to understand the changes that have taken place over time? How are we even to see them? Looking from one moment to the next, or one image to the next, it’s difficult to identify the moment of change. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ are clearly visible, but where exactly does the evolution occur? Could photography – that brilliant medium of ‘capturing time’ and ‘freezing moments’ – give us a glimpse into the arcane?

Photography has given us a great gift of persistent, shared vision, enabling us to jump around in time, visit our deceased relatives and countrymen, travel the planet and meet microscopically small life forms and distant stars. It allows us the privileged beauty of looking back to see landmarks of our evolution in progress – signs so complex it takes us a long time to be able to read them.

Yet photography, too, changes.

What will happen first: will we discover that photography is no longer sufficient to communicate the complex messages that we want to convey, or will our images outgrow us, reaching capabilities we cannot even comprehend? Will there be a time when we cannot read our own photographic maps? As the medium of photography morphs from its analogue, alchemical roots into new digital forms and various experimental methods, we take a step back and wonder to ourselves about survival of the fittest. What do we lose? What do we gain? All the while, all together, we are changing.

Katherine Oktober Matthews, Chief Editor