Quote Originally Posted by Maris View Post
The serious point here is that the light collected by a camera really was a physical part of the substance of the subject matter. The classical mind-picture of reflection as light "bouncing" off the external surface of things is not what actually happens.

Another point missed by Van Lier and other philosophers who think about (but do not do) images, imaging, and possible connections to reality is that there is a whole class of image making procedures that are utterly physical in their workflow and their output. These include life casts, death masks, brass rubbings, papier-mache moulds, coal peels, photographs, and even footprints in a sandy beach. All of these things are unaguably embedded in reality and there is no philosophical credibility in vaporising about the opposite. Where things go off the rails, in the particular case of photography, is mistaking it as a species of painting or drawing; just with some mechanical aspects thrown in. The great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein pointed out that many of the conundrums of philosophy originate from getting the original assumptions wrong, following up with the wrong words, and ending up with a labyrinthine confusion of impenetratable text. Henri Van Lier would not be the only one to have run this hazard.
That's all quite lovely, but I don't think that forgoing a distractingly complex (arcane?) explanation of the precise behavior of light (when it has so little influence on the rest of the consequential qualities of photographs, negatives et al) means that his ideas as written are somehow so deficient that it's beyond understanding or redemption. Also, I don't think you were paying enough attention to see that yes, he absolutely accounts for the permeation of light, its role as messenger, the simultaneity of illumination, etc.

Again, your language is confusing the concept of reality, and 'the real,' at least as far as his ontological position understands that relationship; more than that, it seems you're entirely confused about nearly all of the initial assumptions he states, and those that inhere, within this specific text. If you'd read even just the introduction it's clear that he is talking about how photographic objects are completely different from manugraphic images and objects--even those that are impressions of real people or things, in a number of ways.

For your benefit I'll furnish this post with another excerpt as well, to save you the trouble of looking through to see if there's anything in there that you're complaining he missed (I don't think there is):


In temperatures up to 40 million degrees that reign at the core of pre-stellar collapses, hydrogen runs out by being converted into helium, at the same time a gamma ray photon is released. Its energy dwindles at every step, and the photon undertakes its heroic journey: it will take a million years for it to reach the surface and to soar into space in the form of light, visible at last. A star is born.

Nature is at work in all instrumentation. Clocks activate the laws of mechanics, and ink activates those of chemistry. However, in the majority of cases, natural laws are hidden, and all we can see is artifice.
In the photograph, by contrast, light is eminently present and explicit; as such, it marks its own naturality. Moreover, it unveils nature in its most basic aspects. In fact, light not only has the more or less localized naturality of water, air or rock. It takes on the structures of the universe in what is most wide and thin, in its transmissions from afar and in its minimal energies. This means that light contains and shows the two cosmic constants, i.e. c and h, coming across the photographer in a pronounced way.