The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In discussing the underlying theory that connects the essays in his book Los rostros de Medusa [Medusa’s Faces], Carlos Jiménez describes photography in terms of the question of mechanical time in the modern era. According to Jiménez, photography, as a modern medium, is an agent of destruction of the past (and in fact, of time itself) that condemns the subject of a photographic image to oblivion. The temporal variable that governs the phenomenon of photography defines and subordinates the social world, thereby becoming a canon that influences human sensitivity, and thus establishing itself as the measure of all things. The writer relies on rhetorical studies to present the (metaphysical) hypothesis that “photography kills,” which is diametrically opposed to the idea that photography provides a social function that enables us to confront and to deceive time by preserving it. Jiménez engages in profound philosophical reflection to define the object of his research: the phenomenon of time in a mechanized modern world, and the temporal instruments used to synthesize modernity, including the photographic camera.
The book Los rostros de Medusa [Medusa’s Faces], by Carlos Jiménez (b. 1947), is one of the few documents in the history of publications devoted to Colombian photography that addresses the question of the relationship between photography and modernity from a philosophical perspective based on rhetorical studies of the image. This book eschews the testimonial and media-based approach that is normally taken by those who write about photography in Colombia. The collection of essays in this book is the result of the research conducted by Jiménez for the thesis he wrote in pursuit of his master’s degree in history and theory of art and architecture at the Universidad Nacional in Colombia.
In the book’s “Introito” [Introduction], Jiménez admits to the unusual challenge involved in analyzing photographic images, which seem to elude all attempts to grasp their meaning. According to Jiménez, this characteristic of the medium—that was pointed out earlier by the French theoretician Roland Barthes when he said, “one might say that photography is unclassifiable”—demands a multidisciplinary approach to its theoretical explanation and analytical method that must rely on a variety of fields, such as art, science, technology, and the humanities. It should be noted that Jiménez’s work on photography is inscribed within an essentialist line of research and, as such, generates a certain degree of universalism and atemporality in his texts. This approach has been vigorously challenged by [researchers] who approach photography from the social sciences.
Jiménez’s studies portray the role of photography in our time as invasive and omnipotent. They approach the analysis of the nature of photography from the perspective of “mechanical time’s” influence on and dominion of modern societies. Therefore, for Jiménez, the concepts of the moment and the “spatialization” of time are fundamental issues. In his opinion, photography isolates social life and humanity, condemning them to a totally destructive eternity. One of his central hypotheses concerns the influence of photography on the development of a certain way of seeing, and presents a concept of photography as a thoroughly modern perceptive mechanism that molds our human sensitivity. This sensitivity is associated with our urban experience, with the social uses of images and their particular representative processes, and with modern forms of expression that reveal, as indicated in the book, the abstract nature of modernity: mechanically abstract and abstractedly mechanical.