Category Archives: RR4-Susan Sontag and Plato’s Cave

RR4 Susan Sontag

According to Susan Sontag’s , photographs and the images in Plato’s cave are “Mere images of the truth”. I think that for Sontag, truth or reality stand for only “what we can see”. There is a difference between what we can see with our own eyes (reality) and what we see with a camera.Sontag relates this to Plato’s allegory in which prisoner’s in a cave see shadows of objects cast on the wall due to a fire, in effect, seeing false images of reality. To her, photos are the same; false images of reality that one cannot absolutely deduce anything from.

I think the key point in Susan Sontag’s “In Plato’s Cave” is that we rely too much on photography to give meaning to our experiences. Over the years, Photography has given us the opportunity to turn our experiences and moments in life into infinite objects that last for as long as we want. She reveals her  views on how photography has affected society foreshadowing the consequences of such desperate reliance on photos.

However, in my opinion, this reliance on photos has useful purpose in some cases. It is without doubt that photos cannot be trusted entirely, but this is dependent on the viewer’s judgment and supporting information.




Susan Sontag uses the metaphor of Plato’s cave to describe the role of photography in contemporary life by stating that photography has become how we view things. Susan Sontag doesn’t seem to talk too highly of photography she claims that it can alter and enlarge our notions. I believe that  this means when viewing photographs we can easily be convinced by the photographer to see things the way they did and  not seeing it for the way it actually was. Also that photography has become something everlasting. She compares it to movies and telivison programs that light up the walls, flicker and go out, but photogrpaghy the images are actually objects that you can keep with you, and are easy to produce. It is strange because one min she is talking highly of photography the next she kind of giving you a warning and telling you to be careful.


Susan Sontag and Plato’s Cave

the allegory of Plato’s cave was described as prisoners being chained and have no choice to watch the shadows of people/animals due to a fire and could also hear their voices. They had no communication to the outside world. Susan Sontag use the metaphor of Plato’s cave to describe the role of photography as the different lighting from inside the cave and the direct sunlight from outside.  She compares the allegory of these shadows to photos and reality, saying that photos are like shadows.


We have done a reading in class today. It is called On Photography by Susan Sontage. We watch a video about cave mens. There are prisoners in the cave, there is a bridge behind them. Everyday day people walking through, with animals, or woman bringing stuff to the market place. Everything that the prisoners can see is the shadows from the wall. They have no idea how the outside world looks like. Once they have a chance to be released, they are looking at the real world by their eyes. They can see the world, and feel the world. If they come back, ant tell other prisoners about what he sees, no one is going to understand him, and they don’t have any images in their heads. From this video, we can say that visual perception is very important to human beings. The first photo was shoot in 1893, since so many years change, today we have a lot of different way to take photos. Today’s photographs are not just images to people, it also contains lots of messages. Because we have eyes, we can see our world, and we have a huge images in our head. Comparing to the old art, it is a different way to observes messages. In the reading, Susan Sontage states that being educated by photographs is not like being educated by older, more artisanal images. I agree with statement, because in my opinion, photography is mo realistic than painting. From the old painting we can learn the history, and the message from history. For photography, We can learn more about the world that we are living today, photography is more like knowledge to me.

Susan Sontag & Plato’s Cave

The classic allegory of Plato’s cave is often used to illustrate the point that perception is everything. In one form or another, humans live in a cave of their own making; our ignorance leaves us in the dark.

In Sontag’s piece, she likens our perception of photography as “truth” to the prisoners viewing the shadows on the wall as reality. If we look at modern advertising, for example, one would think that all women are thin and beautiful, with flawless skin. This, as we all know, is far from the truth. Even the models themselves often only bear passing resemblance to their own images in the media: pores are airbrushed, thighs are thinned, etc. Light and shadow are manipulated to present an idealized image of the real thing.

In other cases, such as photojournalism, the images are typically not as manipulated. However, these photographs are still a mere representation of the subject and not the subject itself. A photograph of the Eiffel Tower is still just that: a two-dimensional photograph. It is not the actual tower itself.

It is important that viewers recognize the distinction in this era of the omnipresent camera phone. In the age of instagram, people can (and do) take pictures of their “life” that actually don’t represent reality whatsoever. An “artist” named Amalia Ulman turned her instagram account into performance art. She snuck into luxury hotels to take selfies and bought and returned clothing for her work.

RR4 ( Antonio Griffith )

Plato’s Cave video is showing us how the slaves saw images from shadow off the wall but they don’t know if it is real. The slave see these images and wonder what they are because the shadow is black. They can’t see any detail or color from the shadow so it is hard to identity what is what. The idea of this is to say that any images taking from camera is not real but a moment captured by someone and for you to know if it is real you have to see if to believe it.

Susan Sontag use the metaphor of Plato’s cave to say that you have to experience the world in order for you to know what objects are truly real in a photographed because photos can lie. Photos aren’t reality but they are just frozen moment of something that might exist one or happened once. Because people in today’s world is expose to more photographs than ever before they can learn quick about what is real from what is reality sometimes. The slaves did not know what is a photograph or know what exist because they were tied up and did not experience anything else but the wall. When one of the slaves got to see the light he was confused and happy to experience something new he never knew exist. For photographs or anyone to know what is real they have to be in that place or see a image of something to think or know it is real. When people look at photographs they experience what can be real because the photograph is a image of what the photographer saw before he click the shutter. In Plato’s Cave the slaves learn that those were images of something off the wall from the wall but did not know what.

Tera Cunningham RR4-Susan Sontag and Plato’s Cave

The allegory of Plato’s Cave is that photography now has given us a more broader aspect of how we look at things. The cave represents our world and how set we as people are in our ways. Photography has opened our eyes to see things in a different light. Something that is known as garbage can be photographed and made to look dynamic. Susan Sontag says “To collect a photograph is to collect the world.” meaning being able to take pictures everywhere gives you a feeling of having the world at your fingertips. Photography has rules and guidelines, it’s not just snap and go. There are different genres and styles. Photography can change allegory because different people can look at a photo and get a different feel to it. You can change the light and it can give you a different mood whether it is happy or sad. In short photography is a second pair of eyes.

Barrington Simpson RR4

The allegory of Plato’s Cave is that photography gives a more wider knowledge in human. Photography makes it more possible to view the outside world without stepping foot outside your home. The story of the slave that escape from Plato’s cave and saw the world for the first time  and return to tell the story to his friends who have not recollection of him or understood his words. This is an example of the viewing of a photo for the first time and trying to explain it to a friend that has never seen or know of it.  Susan Sontag uses the metaphor of Plato’s cave to describe the role of photography in contemporary life that we learn a lot from photography over the years and the process of taking photos has greatly grown over time. Thus, its through these billions of photos that we learn and expand our horizon in terms of viewing the world. We live by the guideline we call photography.

RR4: Plato’s Cave – Wilbert Perez

I think Susan Sontag is using the metaphor of Plato’s cave to depict the stationary role of photography in the modern day by proclaiming which images can influence the audience’s attention. It can potentially affect what we have already seen in the past and will directly influence what we would want to see in the future. Instead of feeling like the world is out of our reach by physical boundaries, photographs allow us to witness the world as a whole through our heads using memory and as a anthology. Being capable of viewing photos digitally via smartphones is the new way of collecting photos internally, a way to collect the world and actively share amongst people that we love and follow. In a sense, the confinements of the cave are being changed everyday with every new photo that is viewed through a gallery, digitally, or via printed substrate.

RR4-Susan Sontag and Plato’s Cave

the allegory of plato’s cave to me means that we as humans need to look at reality instead of looking at images. images do not always depict what is really there. they can be distorted as well as enhanced to look better that what was actually there in reality. we as photographers use lighting shadow and different levels of contrast to help us enhance our images to our own liking rather than whats there in reality.