Is All Photography Binary?

According to Geoffrey Batchen it may well be. This quote from a book entitled ‘New Media Old Media A History and Theory Reader Edited by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun & Thomas Keenan goes  host way to explaining why.

So, for Talbot, photography apparently both is and is not a mode of drawing; it combines a faithful reflection of nature with natures production of itself as a picture, somehow incorporating the actions of both the artist and that artist’s object of study. With this conundrum in place, he goes on in his text to posit yet another. Never quite able to decide whether the origins of photography are to be found in nature or in culture, Talbot comes up with a descriptive phrase that contains elements of each: “the art of fixing a shadow.” In adopting such a phrase he recognises that photography is actually about recording the absence of light, or at least the differential effects of its absence or presence. To put it in more contemporary terms, photography is a binary (and therefore numerical) system of representation involving the transmutation of luminous information into on/off tonal patterns made visible by light-sensitive chemistry. As Roland Barthes has argued, then, the emergence of photography represents, among other things, a “decisive mutation of informational economies.*

*page 31 Electricity Made Visible, by Geoffrey Batchen
‘New Media Old Media A History and Theory Reader Edited by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun & Thomas Keenan,
Published in Great Britain by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group 2 Park Square Milton Park, © 2006 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC, International Standard Book Number-10: 0-415-94223-3 (Print Edition)

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