This essay traces how theories of photography have moved beyond the ontological theories of the trace-image (the index, the “it-has-been”) in the 1980s, toward, at first, more pragmatic theories linked to the uses of the image, and then toward what Dubois hypothesizes as the “theory of possible worlds” applied to the visual field. In this new understanding, the photograph is not a “trace-image-of-what-was-there” but rather a “fiction-image-of-a-world-possible.”

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