Is Daguerre's quotation about photography and nature still relevant today in the digital age?
Updated: Jan 7, 2021
"The daguerreotype is not merely an instrument which serves to draw Nature; on the contrary, it is a chemical and physical process which gives her the power to reproduce herself."
I believe that Daguerre had in mind the technical process of creating photographs. The process has actually evolved, but it is still based on the laws of nature. The philosophy of photography remains unchanged.
A certain analogy can be found in the invention of the movable printing type, for which credit is commonly given to Johannes Gutenberg. Prior to this, the production of books, which may I add, was extremely expensive at the time, was manufactured by people who manually rewrote books in monastery scriptoria.
The printing press developed by Gutenberg changed the course of history, giving rise to the information revolution. Books, to which access was previously very limited, became cheaper and easier to produce, thus available to a wider audience.
Perhaps the romantic element of the creative process, whereby the scribes and illuminators sacrificed their lives to God by working on manuscripts, was lost. Reflecting on this process today, in retrospect, it is rather difficult to say if Gutenberg's invention destroyed good literature.
Encyclopaedia Britannica (2019) Daguerreotype Photography. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/technology/daguerreotype (Accessed: 30 December 2020).
Lehman - Haupt, E. H. (2020) Johannes Gutenberg German Printer. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Johannes-Gutenberg (Accessed: 30 December 2020).
Tikkanen, A. (2020) Scriptorium Writing Room. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/art/scriptorium (Accessed 30 December 2020).