chapter  1
Building Images, Building Spaces
ByMadeline Yale Preston
Pages 61

Over the last half century, photography has undergone a fundamental reassessment of meaning. Critical frameworks that evolved out of modernism and postmodernism have been re-configured or, in some cases, become outmoded.There now exists a large subset of photographic discourse that problematizes photography’s previous claims to originality and its status as an evidentiary medium. Expansions and revisions have been made to the idea of the “dematerialization of the photographic object”, as first introduced in conceptual art criticism. The once omni-popular fixation on Roland Barthes’ semiotics and metacodes about narrative content (particularly prominent in the 1980s) 1 has, in some circles, become passé. We have seen the evolution of an analysis of photography as an art form in the postmodern era that questions the relevance of medium specificity. It likewise considers how contemporary photographic production is often part of a broader, interdisciplinary practice. The meteoric rise of the internet and digital culture, in tandem with the perceived obsolescence of analogue image-making, has triggered new modes of thinking about photography’s materiality and how meaning is constructed in its circulation. 2 This expanding critical territory reflects how photography itself has entered into an increasingly complex, layered and, at times, turbulent existence that regularly defies specific ontological classification.