Fotograf Magazine

#2 collective authorship

The format of a print magazine does not really allow us to showcase electronic works, in which group signatures become a ‘natural’ and a clearly appreciable trend. In a certain sense, this is for the best: too much evidence of this phenomenon could obscure its markedly understated presence elsewhere – in the field of photography, for instance. In an interesting way, photography calls attention to the opposition between the abstracted and ideal antipodes of traditional and new media (and the corresponding methods of production, reception and circulation of artifacts), as it represents a sort of a transition zone in which, though many tendencies might be implicit and marginal, they are in fact much more effective than any sort of brash proclamation. Even though the idea of the ‘death of the author’ might seem to be a rather stale phrase, the solitary genius survives not only in the collective consciousness, but in the practice of art history and criticism: collective authorship, which has been a part of photography from its very beginnings, is an obstacle historians try to get rid of and a challenge to ascertain the extent to which different parties have participated, to pinpoint individual signature traits on the basis of which authorship can be clearly ascribed to particular individuals. Our intention here is not to discredit these efforts in the gross, but rather to call attention to the fact that perhaps what is at issue is not a lack of information, an anomaly, or some sort of mistake, but a system of values and functions quite different from those which gave rise to these methods.