Quote Originally Posted by andy_k View Post
Well, light is ethereal, isn't it? Only because we have deduced its behaviors to elegant theories and equations doesn't deprive it of its 'magical' effect on our minds and bodies.
These "magical effects" are made "magical" by our brains, not by specific magical properties of light. Attributing these effect to some ethereal qualities of electromagnetic waves sounds quite esoteric. Once you accept something as "magic" or "ethereal", you stop asking, you stop trying to understand and that is (in my opinion) the opposite of what philosophy aims for.
Quote Originally Posted by andy_k View Post
Also, don't assume that this guy ( <- his CV, use google translate if you can't read french) doesn't have a reasonable grasp on physical theory. He's attempting to relate the empirical elements of environmental examination with subjective elements of our lived existence, and hypothesizing about how these things come together in photos.
Yes, I do assume that Van Trier has no formal education in physics and his CV does nothing to claim otherwise. That's ok, lots of people don't have one and get along with their lives quite nicely. But if one bases one's philosophy on things one doesn't really know beyond trivial facts, that's just another Alan Sokal event waiting to happen.

Van Trier claims that light and its associated information transmits through the whole universe but ignores that most of that light and information is lost somewhere in between. You do not connect with a distant monument by pointing a smart phone's led flash at it, billions of failed night photos prove it every year. Once you take that huge loss of information into account, that ethereal quality of light quickly disappears, and your philosophical view of light changes inevitably (or should at least).
Quote Originally Posted by andy_k View Post
It's not about connection, but the transmission of information. The thing about light that makes it special is that it is a rich spectrum of EM radiation which moves from one place to another, and can be influenced by (and thus can carry information about) the things it interacts with--gravity, or any other natural perceptible phenomenon (like sound, or smell) cannot carry information in this way, we cannot 'see' with it alternatively. The integrated manner in which our physiology has been selected to interpret the information that light carries, balanced well around the spectral intensity of our star. I don't see what's confusing about this.
One interesting difference between light and gravity is that you can't shield or reflect gravity. Light tells you about the surface, gravity about volume. Gravity lets you see behind and inside things, and it is necessarily omni directional and isotropic, at least much more than electromagnetic waves.

Because of this omni directional property, our inability to mask it or focus it, we can not "see" it (in the way of images) but very much sense it (see vestibular system). Funny thing is lots of people get sea sick if these two senses disagree in what they "see".

Quote Originally Posted by andy_k View Post
Cameras are, in fact, designed to be black boxes which we employ without being able to fully know and fully control (to the extent possible with manugraphic modes of object and image making).It is secret in its exclusion, it is genital in its technological creative primacy;
Yes, agreed, one interesting property of cameras is that they can create detailed images regardless of what the photographer knows about their internal workings. Note that a tape recorder can also create accurate sound recordings of whatever the microphone was pointed at. Also note that a whole class of microscopes creates images by throwing and recording electrons (their wave property doesn't make them electromagnetic waves). If you look at Mandelbrot sets (and their popular pictorial representations) you have an even stronger form of creative primacy: the computer not just records but also manages the subject matter.
Quote Originally Posted by andy_k View Post
and here in the excerpt from the OP he's speaking more specifically about the (often solely inhabited) darkroom. I think your biggest problem with the book is that you're not actually reading it, content to (as a few others are, it seems) dismiss his ideas out of hand and without adequate inspection.
The philosophical concept sounds interesting and a lot better founded than the author's theories of the ethereal qualities of light. Which is not a surprise because philosophy is the author's stronghold, not theoretical physics. I sure hope the book puts more emphasis on this than on pop science electromagnetic theory.