'Regarding Sontag' is a critique of Susan Sontag’s seminal book, 'Regarding the Pain of Others'. Composed of photographs she describes inserted into an artists copy of her book, as well as an exploration of text excerpts used in various formats, moving image, sound work and photography.
Throughout her text Sontag claims that we are no longer affected by witnessing images of human suffering and have lost virtually all empathy for those depicted. This, she argues, is due to an overexposure to visual imagery, both in entertainment and real life as well as our own mental preparations we make in order to protect ourselves from being affected. At times Sontag refers to a supposed innate desire within us all to observe images of human suffering, occasionally describing these subjects in a way more akin to pleasure than pain.
No illustrations are provided within this book, despite her referencing some fifty-four photographs, alongside countless paintings, etchings, drawings, broadcasts, and recorded images. Instead Sontag relies on her own written word as her offering of evidence, demonstrating both her belief in the superior nature of literature as well as the relationship, as she sees it, between language and visual image.
All the imagery, text and sound used within this installation has derived from Sontag's book.