Exercise 3.1 – Contextualization & Critical Analysis



Szarkowski, J. (1978) Mirrors and windows. Available at: https://www.moma.org/momaorg/shared/pdfs/docs/press_archives/5624/releases/MOMA_1978_0060_56.pdf?2010 (Accessed: 31 July 2016).
(Szarkowski, 1978)


““It must be emphasized that the distinction proposed here…is not intended as a method of dividing recent photography into two discrete and unrelated bodies. On the contrary, the model suggested here is that of a continuous axis No photographer’s work could embody with perfect purity either of the two divergent motives; it is the nature of his problem to find a personally satisfactory resolution of the contesting claims of recalcitrant facts and the will to form.”” (Szarkowski, 1978)


“Among the leading practioners of the “mirror” approach are Paul Caponigro; Jerry N. Uelsmann, whose surreal, technically stunning montages have been widely influential; Robert Heinecken; and painter Robert Rauschenberg, who easily and elegantly incorporates photos and photographic processes into his work in other mediums.” (Szarkowski, 1978)


“Foremost among the “windows” group is Garry Winogrand, who, Szarkowski feels, may well be “the central photographer of his generation. No other work of the period has insisted so clearly and uncompromisingly on exploring the uniquely prejudicial (intrinsic) qualities of photographic description.”” (Szarkowski, 1978)


“And no survey of photography of the past 20 years would be complete without a look at color photography in the work of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, and Joel Meyerowitz. Szarkowski, however, is quick to point out that the mirrors-and-windows dichotomy is not a hard and fast one.” (Szarkowski, 1978)


“MIRRORS AND WINDOWS has been organized around Szarkowski’s thesis that such personal visions take one of two forms. In metaphorical terms, the photograph is seen either as a mirror–a romantic expression of the photographer’s sensibility as it projects itself on the things and sights of this world; or as a window–through which the exterior world is explored in all its presence and reality.” (Szarkowski, 1978)


“Others who have set out to explore the world through the window of photography are Lee Friedlander, with his playful references to photographers of the past, Diane Arbus, Ray Metzker, and Ed Ruscha.” (Szarkowski, 1978)


Critical Analysis

John Szarkowski Sees mirrors as an expression of the photographer’s sensibility and windows as a way for the photographer to look out at the exterior world. My thinking is that Mirrors will be images that are more personal and reflect something of me as a photographer and windows will be images where the world outside of myself. It also strikes me that one persons mirror is another persons window and vice versa.

The exercise calls for me to select ten of my images and classify them as windows or mirrors, I have decided to pick ten images that I really like without thinking about their classification first.