Witkovsky argues that decades into photography's institutional acceptance as art, widespread inadequacies remain in the art historical treatment of photographs, which can no longer be defended as manifestations of a separate or distinctive “medium.” Insufficient attention to formal procedures, such as darkroom interventions between the stages of negative and print, as well as to disciplinary history—including the introduction of the very term “medium” in photographic discourse around 1930—remain commonplace. Yet despite a persistent tendency to totalize photography as a creative domain, photography as a museum department or academic field of study offers the promise to counter far larger impulses toward totalization, above all in a marketplace beset by an obsession with global contemporary art. What the study of photographs can model is a field of creation that moves in, under, and against “art in general.”

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