My friend Raul posted an image by Peter Henry Emerson who "was one of the first vocal proponents of "naturalistic" art photography (photography done out in the field) at a time when most art photographers worked exclusively in the studio" and it got me all thinking and shit.
Looking at these photographs reminded me of how great it would have been if photography had been invented by amphibians, in a Cambrian swamp the size of Switzerland. I'd kill to see some pics, of the first flowering plants, Napoleon and Josephine or Polynesia, circa 1465.
Emerson(1856-1936) quoted*: "I have...I regret it deeply, compared photographs to great works of art, and photographers to great artists. It was rash and thoughtless, and my punishment is having to acknowledge it now... In short, I throw my lot in with those who say that Photography is a very limited art. I deeply regret that I have come to this conclusion..."
History proved him wrong, even if it took far too long. After him came the throngs who blissfully ignored the ruminations of a man who lacked the imagination to understand that, given time, any new form of self expression will eventually blossom.
Over time, artistic expression accrues and grows like those interest rates your bank charges. Despite what he thought, there is nothing like traveling back in time and seeing what it really looked like; at least through someone else's eyes. To my eyes, it's actually more interesting, than any thought he might have ever had in his lifetime.
*Via Raul Gutierrez.