In an interview published in yesterday's Guardian, David Hockney makes a case for the implausibility of photographic truth: asserting that photography is as fictional as painting, his argument is an odd sort of inversion of Susan Sontag's more complex (and arguably, more compelling) observations about the visual depiction of war, cruelty and disaster. Hockney raises serious questions about photography as evidence, no longer the barometer of truth it once was. Sontag's analysis operates from a decidedly more humanitarian premise: here, the photographic lens is a palpable reminder of the basic obligations of conscience. "'We' should be taken for granted." writes Sontag, "when the subject is looking at other people's pain." Yet in spite of their polarized perspectives, both Hockney and Sontag cite Goya.
Here's progress for you: from the Spanish insurrection to the Cambodian invasion, the horrors of war endure.