Eventually we invented a machine to help record reality. Many people thought of this as cheating, and photography struggled to gain respectability. Still, no one could deny it required great craft and effort.
Then people figured out that it was the idea that counted. As long as you came up with a concept you could hire out the nuts and bolts of actually producing a photograph, yet still call the final product your own.
But if it's the idea that counts, why even bother making a photo? Why not take someone else's ready made photo and call it your own?
Some people felt this was bad for photography, that it was dragging the whole thing back into the sewer.
Nevertheless the practice continued. People appropriated all sorts of imagery as their own, sometimes barely changing the original except for the addition of a signature and six-digit price tag.
Then someone decided it wasn't the idea that counted. It was the idea of the idea. Instead of appropriating existing imagery, the thing to do was appropriate the appropriation.
Where was all this leading? The next step was clear.
From there it was quickly down the rabbit hole.
Detail of Detailed Detail, 2010, Blake Andrews
Sheer Nihilism, 2010, Blake Andrews
We'd like to climb out of the hole.
There must be a way.
But this particular cave is proving hard to escape.