Too often, we still treat photographs as if they were transparent communications, simply vessels of information, whether of the past, or of politics, or of an artist’s agenda. A great deal of contemporary art photography suits this attitude perfectly, employing the plain-style of vernacular portraiture for its own documentary ends. In these cases ( the work of Taryn Simon is a perfect example) the image always coexists with text. But this type of predetermined narrative limits what images can do; in support of a story or an agenda they gets emptied of their mystery, they fade out and go blank. By contrast, the most interesting photographs attack from the side. They make it difficult to tell where the line between the photographer’s objectives and the subject’s impulses is drawn. What was meant, and what was chance.