Picture Power


David Hockney on the church and images:

The church had social control. Whoever controlled the images had power. And they still do. Social control followed the lens and mirror for most of the 20th century. What's now known as the media exert social control, not the church, but we are moving into a new era, because the making and distribution of images is changing. Anyone can make and distribute images on a mobile phone. The equipment is everywhere.

We do not have debates about images. The world of art is separate from the world of images, but the power is with images, not art. An obvious problem is seen. The world of images claims a relationship to visual reality - television and cinema - but this claim cannot now be sustained. We will get more confused if we don't think about them.[...]

Parliament will discuss depiction, but not art. We are in a confusing time. The decline of religion in Europe is seen as part of the "scientific" revolution. I have begun to doubt this now; it is quite likely that it's to do with images. The decline of the church parallels the mass manufacture of cameras. They are deeply connected. I noticed on a recent tour of Italy that not many Italians went in the churches to see pictures. They see them at home, not made by Botticelli but by Berlusconi. Think about it.