Evidence, 1977 and Graham Harman’s Third Table
Within this paper I will discuss Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’s “Evidence”, 1977 contextualized by Graham Harman’s text produced for dOCUMTA(13) “The Third Table” 2012. It is my contention that although Sultan and Mandel’s intention in Evidence may have been to undermine the modernist tropes of authorship and narrative, or to draw our attention to visual material which are ‘”ready-to-hand”, the work can also be explored as a visual metaphor for Graham Harman’s approach to Object Orientated Ontology or (OOO). Evidence, 1977 is often contextualized within the dialogue of 1970’s conceptual art, the analysis of the re-presentation of images often being commented on through notions of access and hierarchical structures of theory and meaning. I am seeking to demonstrate that there may also be significance to analysing the work in relation to Harman’s concepts of ‘overmining’ and ‘undermining’ and that the impact of the artwork may be highlighted through these concerns.
There is an ideological and deliberate conceptual process apparent in Evidence which, it could be argued, has resonance with Harman’s contention that objects are not only deeper than their appearance to humans but also than their relations to one another. In this sense it is my aim to develop a reading of the photographs where the caption-less, unreferenced images re-contextualised by Sultan and Mandel highlight interesting concerns surrounding our relations to meaning and the paradigms that surround our conception of knowledge through contemporary philosophical debate. I aim to explore that through an analysis of Object Orientated Ontology Evidence may not only be dealing with notions of privileged access and the creation of meaning through empirical evidence but also could be read in relation to Harman’s call to philosophia through his perception of allure.
Peter Ainsworth is an artist and Lecturer at Portsmouth University, living and working in London. Recipient of the inaugural Dazed and Confused Emerging Artist Award his work has been shown at Stephen Friedman Gallery, NRW-Forum, Dusseldorf, Flowers East and his first London Solo show ‘Unsounded Surplus’ was in 2012.
Harman, artwork, objects, realism
The Hebrew University, Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem
Algorithmic Visual Mechanisms: The Reciprocity between Technological Developments, Human Machine Collaboration and Visual Perception
In 21st century visual research, the term algorithm in its historical and technological context is a key to understanding conceptual processes as applied in digital visual models. With the rise of the conceptual and practical presence of the algorithm, its dominance reflects the production processes of various visual products as well as the ways of viewing and understanding these products by their users.
Examples of the reciprocal conceptual relationship between the technological idea of the algorithm and the visual models that represent it, include photographic based visual spaces, products of collaboration between smart algorithms applied in artificial intelligence systems and human users. These visual and conceptual spaces are characterised by the growing presence of sophisticated code systems in visual media, pointing to a technologically mediated understanding of visual space. I call this phenomenon “The Algorithmic Visual Mechanism”. This term relates to the aspirations of the producers of advanced information systems to embed into imaging technologies mechanisms which mimic human ways of seeing. These visual texts are witness to the physical collaborations between the user and the technological environment in which he/she acts, for instance joint collaborative environments whereby manufacturing methods of photographic images are based on joint processes for the creator and the media. For example, in the photo application built into the current Apple iPhones, the application directs (and indirectly operates) the user within the physical space, an act which demands of the user to act according to the algorithmic model that embedded within the software code.
Initial clues as to the influences of digital technologies on spatial vision have been discernible for some time, in contemporary photographic works depicting visual space. One possible meaning for such influences may be in the way that the creator relates to the actual space in which he operates, examines it conceptually and gives it a visual interpretation. For example, in a number of photographic works by contemporary artists, such as Andreas Gursky and Jeff Wall, one may interpret their depictions of space as complex systems of vantage points which come together to form one cohesive viewpoint. I argue that such cohesive viewpoints represent a spatial way of seeing which is connected to the algorithmic means which enabled its creation, but also indicate a critical social vision of the structure and character of modern society and its attitude towards technology.
Doron Altaratz is a visual artist and new media researcher, whose artwork integrates digitally manipulating images, time-based media and code. He is a faculty member of the Department of Photographic Communication at Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem, and is currently pursuing his PhD in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He researches the reciprocity between technology and visual culture.
Algorithm, Visual-Mechanism, Machine-learning, Visual Perception
AUT University, New Zealand
Memorials, Haunting and a ‘Something-to-be-done’: A Case Study for What Cannot Be Photographically Seen
Although the ‘Asia Pacific Theatre’ (World War Two) was both heavily imaged at the time, and is now widely memorialised¾via statues, monuments, shrines, mausoleums, gardens, fountains, parks, eternal flames¾specific memories, feelings, experiences and narratives have either been compromised or altogether left out of official sanctioned versions of this historical event. Referencing the American sociologist Avery Gordon’s Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination (1997), this ‘Case Study’ looks for what is hidden¾spectres of past memories, feelings, experiences, narratives¾by not just ‘Asia Pacific Theatre’ memorials themselves, but also their lens-based representation. Drawing from a recent series of my own and archival photographs of the Okinawa Cornerstone of Peace Memorial, surrounding parkland and cliffs, as well as the actual Battle of Okinawa, the focus here concerns how photographic images may be able to “represent the damage and the haunting of the historical alternatives” that reside within these trauma laden sites (ibid, xvii). Therefore, this ‘Case Study’ is preoccupied with how “haunting, unlike trauma, is distinctive for producing a something-to-be-done”, which involves establishing a kind of visibility for alternative histories¾surrounding the Battle of Okinawa¾to challenge already known ones (ibid, xvi).
Key to this position is also the potential role that photography plays in the re-narrativisation of established discourses that a memorial produces and then effectively confirms. Accordingly, this ‘Case Study’ also focuses on how photographs that fragment, destabilise and stammer historical narrative are in a sense producing a ‘something-to-be-done’, that evolves within and affects the present. This paper questions how specific lens-based methods such as the qualities of light, movement and framing function to suggest the presence, or essence of something unknown, which then starts to interrupt perception, feelings, and ultimately knowledge of both memorial, its historical context, and its representation as image.
Fiona Amundsen is an artist, who utilises photography to question the relationships between historical sites of trauma, socio-political narratives, memorial and lens-based representation. She is Senior Lecturer (AUT University) and is also completing a PhD (Monash University) titled Registers of Seeing: Imaging Memorial within the Pacific Theatre of World War II.
Counter-histories, memorial, World War Two, haunting
Academic Researcher and Assistant Professor
Metadata, Forensics and the Fugitive – the Persistence of the ‘Photographic’ in the Binary
Today, digital photography appears as volatile, chronically unfinished, social, ambient and networked. Its medial borders are increasingly dissolving, it is shaped by defaults and the aesthetical imperatives of apps and networks, as well as by the “program of the camera” (e.t. Flusser, 2014). Yet, the controversial question about the remaining of the ‘photographic’ in terms of an indexical relationship in the digital is being inherited. My talk addresses this seemingly paradoxical situation, by analysing digital photography’s specific strategies to create ‘authenticity’. In the current discussion of authenticity, the crucial question seems to no longer be whether the image had been submitted to “manipulation”, but to which degree and in what way. It might also be noted that digital photography generates – in addition to the controversial equation of light measuring and light inscription – a different way of gesturing toward authenticity. Not by referring to the inscription of light, but through inscribing identifiable data in the picture (metadata) which reveal information about the conditions of a photograph’s production and, with the right geo tag, also about its place of origin. As there have been more and easier ways to ‘manipulate’ photographs, so has there been an increase in the ways to detect them. Which now puts forensics in the position of re-establishing ‘reality’ as a referential point by tracing every step of the process of alteration. Authenticity has become a marketing value: apps such as SnapChat attempt to sell themselves with claims of enabling particularly ‘genuine’ pictures. The images sent with this app are only visible for ten seconds and can’t be saved by the sender or the recipient (with the exception of a screenshot). The founders use the notion of the fugitive and the uncatchable to present themselves as an enclave of authenticity in a world of stylized and aesthetized pictures.
Lisa Andergassen studied Media Studies and Photography in Vienna and Potsdam. She currently holds a Ph.D. fellowship at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and is an associated member of the Research Training Centre “Visibility and Visualisation – Hybrid Forms of Pictorial Knowledge“. She teaches classes on photography history and theory.
authenticity, SnapChat, metadata, digital photography, forensics
Goldsmiths College, University of London
Swiping, Pinching and Touching: The tactile economies of contemporary vernacular photography.
As vernacular photography is remediated through mobile and digital networks, we are forced to revisit the materiality of the image. Whereas the digital has often been equated with the immaterial, touch-enabled devices increasingly invite us to touch, pinch and swipe at the image. New materialities of photography afford different modes of physical interaction that have direct consequences on how the image is perceived and the economy of photographic circulation.
The materiality of vernacular photography has often been overlooked in favour of focusing on the purely visual and representational qualities of the image, as argued by Geoffrey Batchen (2004) and Elizabeth Edwards (2004). However, the materiality that the photograph inhabits has both cultural and psychological consequences for how the image is received and valued. It is therefore becoming increasingly pertinent to understand the tactile and material dimensions of the photograph not as auxiliary to its representational qualities, but as a vitally constitutive axis of how we understand the function and form of photography.
Drawing on work by Johanna Drucker (2001), this paper will aim to understand the ontology of digital photography as a series of cultural translations through which the meaning and materiality of the image is altered as it mutates through various forms. I will argue in this paper that the apparent immateriality of digital photography is a perceived affordance that formalizes asymmetries of agency between the viewer and the image. Whereas the inescapable materiality of the printed image lingers outside of our authoritative gaze, the digital image is brought under control by the masterful gestures of a user who can dematerialize the image at will. This process of dematerialization prevents the image from touching us back; making us the object of its reciprocal gaze; and at its most poignant, moving us both physically and affectively.
Adam Bales is PhD candidate and Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths College in the Media & Communications Dept. My research focuses on the politics of contemporary vernacular photography and the changing materiality of the image in mobile and networked communication.
Vernacular Photography, Materiality, Tactility, Desire.
Senior lecturer in photography and moving image
University of the West of England
Look Up – An exploration into the photographic approach to filmmaking
In 2009 I began a practice research MA exploring the representation of landscape within artists moving image. This was a new direction for me since my background was in documentary and short film, with films being broadcast or screened in cinemas. How would my methodologies change when making a film for the gallery? How would my philosophy and process change when studying moving image within a fine arts context? How would my technical approach to image-making change and how would this new approach create a different aesthetic and outcome to previous films I had made? This presentation seeks to answer these questions through a screening of my short film ‘Look Up’ (2012, 5.04 min) and a paper that explores the filmmaking process and interdisciplinary research into the visualization of our relationship with time and space during periods of grief. The paper will suggest that during times of grief our relationship with space and time shifts – sometimes quite radically, but often rather imperceptibly – and we experience a different type of embodiment within the everyday. During this suspended state memories mix with dreamtime to create a less linear temporality, allowing us space for grieving and – on occasion – spiritual uplift. Taking a phenomenological approach, I argue this experience is not purely mental, but is felt, sensed and ‘interactive’. The film attempts to demonstrate this ‘being’. The film is also the outcome of a period of study on the representation of landscape in moving image. The screening will show how landscape’s potential for evoking nostalgia and specific moments of recall can serve as a mirror for the process of grieving. I will discuss how the filmmaking methods of C. Welsby, W. Raban, M.Tait and others influenced my methodologies and how the use of split sound and image were central to my process.
Liz Banks’ filmmaking comes from a background in photography and theatre. After starting out in community video arts, she attended Bournemouth film-school, after which she was commissioned by the BBC and the UK Film council to make documentaries and short drama. Her interest is in the crossover of documentary, fiction, still and moving image.
Moving image, memory, landscape, grief.
Kingston University, Central Saint Martins University
Alienating camera: Improvising with DSLR camera
Roland Barthes analysis of the self-reflected photographic image in Camera Lucida (1980) suggests a split of the subject: ‘In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art.’ (Barth, 1980, p.12) This awareness; of being watched, is familiar to the performer and unless the performer is seemingly unaware of their actions in front of an audience (or a camera) they will inhabit this forking described by Barthes. The principle of Berthold Brecht’s A-Effect is not dissimilar to the alienation formed by the use of electronic and digital devices in its ability to enable the performer a split into manipulator and performer. Thanks to the displacement of action through monitoring, the performer is able to tweak their own awareness, in order to work with their reflection as ‘material’.
The challenge in performance is therefor to neutralise the evidence of personal expression while performing – in order to let the essence of the work manifest through their action (and not by illustration of a self awareness feeling). I use electronic and digital processing to distance my voice and body as alienating techniques.
Anat Ben-David is London based artist and composer. Primarily, my interest lies in the relationship between elements occurring in an event where; text, sound and digital image, are mediated through improvisation and performance. Shows, performances and collaborations at institutes including Tate Britain, the ICA, Moma, Migros museum, Borealis Festival, Bergen Norway. Stanley Picker Gallery, Beursschouwburg, Brussels, Momak – The National museum of Modern Art Kyoto. Montermeso, Vitoria, Spain. Mosak, Spain.
self-reflected, photographic image, displacement
Deakin University Motion Lab
Surfaces Between Photographs
This paper will describe the emergence of forms of surface between digital photographs. Some of these surfaces are relatively tangible. Some of these surfaces are invisible, epistemological, hence the challenge of giving them description and form. Specifically, I want to consider the implications of computer vision in the reconstitution of photographic surfaces in two forms. The first is photogrammetry – the algorithmic building of 3D surfaces and forms from overlapping 2D images taken from different perspectives. The second connection between images comes in the form of organizational algorithms – reverse image search engines – such as Google ‘Search by Image’. Both these applications of computer vision draw out relationships between images that have both surface and form. Following Flusser, I will set out a proposal that computer vision mediated relationships between images has the potential to reshape the structure of thought.
Photogrammetry is one example of how new surfaces are emerging in the relationship between images. In the case of photogrammetry, the surface is a composite, a hollow shell comprised of shards that have been compiled by algorithmic computer vision constructing the shape based on measurement of the relationship between image elements and extrapolation based on a projection of perspective lens representation. The surface is shaped from the relationships between photographs.
I want to describe the emergence of epistemological structures, and therefore surfaces, generated by ‘reverse image search engines’ using computer vision. I extend Flusser’s proposition that technologies create geometric structural paradigms of thought and consciousness to consider the implications of algorithmic organisation of images. Samuel Bland’s composite photographic series Googlology illustrate that the function of computer vision within this algorithm does not comprehend content or representation. Whereas traditional organizational taxonomies might arrange images according to their content, by what they represent, the Google ‘search by image’ results connect and group images according to the formal arrangement of shape and line, contrast and colour. In this current ‘reverse image search engine’ algorithmic environment, digital photographs are no longer sorted, organized, associated and linked according to their representational content.
Given the emergence of sorting algorithms for images that do not rely on representational content, we find ourselves at a moment where the taxonomy of image mediated culture has been shifted in a profound way – from representational content to formal visual elements. The technologies we use facilitation the form of knowledge, the geometry of thought possible. It shapes and facilitates the structural paradigm though with we comprehend our world. If digital photographs are a dominant form of online communication; and if that form of communication and thought may be grouped, shaped and arranged according to formal patterns of intensities of light rather than content and representation, then the algorithmic turn of the image does indeed mark another breakpoint with the photograph’s historical tie to representation.
Alison Bennett is completing a ‘creative practice as research’ PhD as a member of the Deakin Motion.Lab. Her project considers the presence of surface in digital photography. Work-in-progress includes the exhibition ‘Shifting Skin’, a series of high-resolution scenography prints of tattooed human skin overlaid with 3D augmented reality.
Computer vision, photogrammetry, reverse image search engine, Flusser
University of Essex
Hiroshi Sugimoto brings time to light
Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographic practice is concerned with investigating the nature of photography itself. Since, for him, this practice is an extension of his experience of the world, to investigate photography can be understood as an artistically implemented equivalent to Heidegger’s philosophical investigations of human ontology. Memorial and historical photographs tell us who and what we are, establishing an understanding of what it means to be human which helps to determine the possible ways of being that will be open to us in the future. Photographs can help us to inauthentically deny or authentically recognise the inevitability of our deaths, and can even counteract the inauthentic belief in the existence of the ‘now’.
By drawing together time, beings and light, this paper claims that the photograph stands as a correlate to Heidegger’s account of how humans encounter beings in the present. Just as Heidegger criticises the metaphysical tendency to overemphasise the present in accounts of Dasein’s existence, the paper argues that to understand the photograph as determined only by the present instant in which it was taken, is to limit our understanding of photographic temporality. The extensionality of photographic temporality in Sugimoto’s time exposures brings us to understand our own temporality as extended through time and history, and—like the photograph—to understand ourselves as opening a space within which beings can be encountered.
Dr Emma Bennett was recently awarded her PhD at the University of Essex, for a thesis applying the philosophy of Martin Heidegger to various works of contemporary photography. She is currently researching Heidegger’s influence on postmodern photography theory.
Martin Heidegger, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Time, Photography
Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton
Keeping Time: Archive, image, Description, List
Within the context of the networked image, photography has increasingly needed to address the question of the archive, as institutionalised memory management system and as prototype for media storage and archiving techniques. In this paper I will consider image time as it materialises in the institutionally archived photograph, through the non-visual, non-hermeneutical data systems of description and list.
The archival object-level description originates from a time pre-digital and pre-digitisation. It is predominantly visual-content based and persists in many image-free online catalogues, where it must stand in for the image and define the content, specificity and duration of the moment of capture. Archive time is delineated through original order, a natural consequence of the methods of collection and use. The catalogue list replicates this arrangement and so records and preserves the methodology and the temporality of collecting. Within this milieu, the individual object and description are seen as ‘narrative pause’; synchronic forms, both in terms of being snapshots in time and synchronous with each other.
As with the user-generated tag, description writing is a curious hybrid between human thought and predetermined structure, but, unlike the predominantly event-based tag, it is a method of recording, not storytelling. However, it must be accepted that the photograph, like the denoted description itself, is a participatory object. Viewers of the single archive image, or image description, may introduce versions of time and plot that can be upheld only by considering the object’s position in the set, as temporally discrete units define the wider temporalities of events through part-to-part and part-to-whole relationships.
Thus the image is placed outside of the system of signs that is usually considered in discussions of photographic representation and is located within the revealing organisational system of the archive. The structure of the archive becomes the sign system for the archived photograph.
Dr Jane Birkin has recently completed a practice-based PhD at Winchester School of Art. She works in Archives and Manuscripts at Southampton University and her visual practice confronts text and image relationships in a way that takes its lead from the techniques of object description and text management in the archive.
Keeping Time: Archive, image, Description, List
Curriculum Manager, Media, Digital Arts, Humanities and Performing Arts, Working Men’s College
Architectural imaging, photographic theory, education, politics.
This paper explores digitally rendered images of the new University, the emergence of which signifies a change in how knowledge and learning are understood to occupy space. As changes in funding, recruitment and administration transform the global landscape of higher education, the image of the University emerges as directly functional in the reification of neoliberal ideology – ensuring capital inflow, securing consumer recruitment, and establishing a symbolic embodiment of determinate values. The image of the building, as in real-estate, secures the existence of the real like a flag– however for the purposes of this paper the real to which the image makes reference is intended to function as a space for the inculcation of knowledge, it’s establishment, its embodiment. This paper proposes that this formulation is essentially recursive – the image presages a real which is intended as a place or location for the discursive construction of the real.
The incursion of notions of risk, speculation and commodification into this particular space is not only significant of a fundamental shift in values, from the humanist to the neoliberal, but a becoming-instrumental of human discourse and a shift in the vital character of education as a space of uncertainty and a different kind of gamble. Tropes derived from property speculation are brought to bear on the construction of institutions intended to house or frame intellectual activity.
Do constructed metaphors of easy complexity, smoothness, shininess, or frictionlessness, parenthesize any discourse or activity which runs counter to the ideal of the digitally-lubricated mechanism? Did (or do) previous photographic records of architecture which attempted to fix the now of state structures succeed in co-creating metaphors of friction in signs of labour or the work (construction traces, weathering, the indexical record of wooden shuttering in poured concrete?) Comparing images which are traced off the real, and images which construct the sign of the trace, the relationship between knowledge and its location is interrogated. Is intellectual activity truly placeless, or does the friction of the local, the slow, the textured, the interrupted, represent the origin of learning – a site of radical incompatibility? What happens to the trace of friction now it can be faked?
Adam Brown is a writer, educationalist and artist who is engaged in an on-going project which involves applying ideas derived from photographic theory to the emergence of digital renderings of architectural projects in advance of their construction. He has published and presented papers on this subject in Australia and the UK. His artistic practice explores ideas of permanence, transience and the nature of ‘work’ across digital and analogue media.
Architectural imaging, photographic theory, education, politics.
University of Basel & HGK Basel
What is a photograph? What a spurious, provocative, redundant start! After all, a photograph is clearly an image, a technical image of something. What a photograph is—such a stupid question! Casual announcements of the photograph as signification rely on an a priori truth outside experience that orients our thinking, our identities, our institutions. For it is “in terms of this self-apparent image of thought that everybody knows and is presumed to know what it means to think.” 1 Yet, collaging Deleuze’s and Bergson’s intuitive thinking suggests an image is not only a site of forces but more so a nexus of force in itself: a field of blocs of sensations: a differentiation of real virtual flows into actual forms. Crucial to images is how they cut into the world, and for my purposes this event of signalisation is nowhere more relevant than in photographs that are more than a sedimentation of image sitting on the world, referring to the world, a kind of shingle lying on top. As real enfolding of the virtual and actual, they are the territories of a multiplicity of sensations—a genesis, the real actual of a diagrammatic structuring of the world in registers of time and space.
Positioning photography so runs contrary to its received Deleuzian conscription as belonging within the “dreary world of the signifier.” My project thus has two fronts: to assimilate a Deleuzian tool box into an understanding of photography, exploiting a post-Platonic semiotics—opening photography up to the virtual, to multiplicity(ies), to a rhizomatic nature. Secondly, then, to think the affective in photogenetic zones of intensity, engage with temporal dislodgment, and determine the event of photogenesis, the photogenetic moment as differentiation actualized.
Peter Burleigh teaches English culture, language and linguistics at the University of Basel, and critical and visual theory at the HGK, Basel. His interests lie in the theories and histories of photography, and forms of visual representation. His most recent essay appears in the European Month of Photography 2014 catalogue.
Deleuze, Bergson, photogenesis, enfolding
Manchester School of Art and Glasgow School of Art
On White Island Kvitøya: The Horizon Flux
The aim of this paper is to evaluate the tangibility of the photograph in this period defined as “late-photography”exploring themes associated with analogue photography, loss and melancholia. Deliberating on my arts practice, and concentrating on current work, I will present a performative dialogue, weaving text with imagery. Inspired by Marina Warner’s writing on Phantasmagoria Productions , this early 19th Century magic lantern show crystallized my thoughts on photography’s relationship to the fantastical and the tragic. Robert McFarlane’s writing on Mallory’s failed expedition to Mount Everest and Herbert Pontin photographs of the Scott Expedition to the South Pole, I began a search through photography archives for early images of polar expeditions. I was particularly struck by a small collection of photographs correspondence, and news clippings from what is known as The Andre Expedition. The Andre Expedition, led by the Swedish balloonist S.A Andre in 1897, aimed to be the first to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon. The Expedition failed with all three members of the team lost. In 1930 the bodies, and effects of the men were discovered. Amongst diaries and journals there were also rolls of photographic film. Sets of prints were made and sent to museums across the world. Along with the prints each museum received a report detailing the process undertaken to develop and preserve the films. By working with this collection, my intention has been to develop irreal landscapes utilising technologies associated with photography. In this paper my intention is to describe the background to this arts project, titled White Island, reflecting on my developing philosophy on the consolidation of old and new photographic technologies with pre-photography materiality and intellectual thinking. As an artist my endeavour is to understand and articulate what photography is in a post- analogue era and demonstrate photography’s continuing object-ness.
Jacqueline Butler is a Principal Lecturer and Director of Studies, in the Department of Media at Manchester School of Art. She is a member of Family Ties Network and is currently undertaking a PhD at Glasgow School of Art. Her research evaluates the prospects of what a photograph is and what it can become as technologies evolve.
Materiality, Archives, Analogue, Technologies
Goldsmiths, University of London
Towards a definition of ‘Spatial Photography’
In this paper I wish to follow two interweaving lines of inquiry. The first pertains to a technological – philosophical articulation of what I term ‘spatial photography’. The second aims at a political reading of the new photographic space. Located in the ambiguous intersection between physical space and its representation, virtual space and its realisation, I seek to extract from this emerging photographic technology its latent ideological possibilities as they manifest in the context of Jerusalem.
Emerging forms of digital and computational photography, utilising depth registering capabilities, are forging a distinct ontological condition within photography. It is a condition by which the photographic apparatus constitutes itself and functions as an environment. The ‘spatial photograph’ does not flatten reality onto a plane of discrete pixels, nor does it renege on its visual coherence in favour of its own constitution as data, cloud or networked image. In this highly computational environment, physical reality is transcoded onto a mirrored terrain of spatially distributed discrete coordinate points. A photographic point-cloud creates a photographic topography. Photography as architectural space.
In its Point-Cloud form, this understanding of photography as an omni-directional manoeuvrable environment is currently at its most extreme. While it maintains its photographic ‘essence’ (i.e. the inscription of visual information via registration of returning light from the physical world), I would argue that nearly all fundamental attributes of the apparatus shift conceptually, technologically and ideologically. Terms, processes and relations such as depth, aperture, shutter-speed, frame, resolution, viewpoint, hierarchy, representation, testimony and calculation call for a redefinition and realignment of their relations in the production of space.
The reciprocal movement between the social and symbolic space and that of computational photographic space is at the heart of my inquiry into the condition of the ‘spatial-photograph’. Two test cases I will be using throughout the presentation are point-cloud images, transcoded through spatial analysis from archive footage recorded in the late 19th and 20th century in Jerusalem. By extracting the ‘original’ terrain from the archive photograph and transcoding it into a navigable 3D space, I ask what are the forms that emerge or may be lost? In Jerusalem, an ecology so deeply implicated and embedded by the photographic regime, how can this unfolding of one photographic apparatus through another expose or allow for a new critical view of the prevailing iconography and its politics. What kind of spatial imaginary, social conscious and political agency emerge from the encounter with this transcoded photographic ecology?
Ariel Caine is an artist and photographer, born in Jerusalem (1979). He currently lives in London where he is an MPhil/PhD candidate at the Centre For Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University London. Before coming to London he was a lecturer at the Bezalel Academy (Israel). His artworks have been exhibited extensively.
Point-cloud, representation, landscape, spatial-analysis
Chelsea College of Art and Design
Picture and Code: Vilém Flusser and Photography in Contemporary Art
This paper is a critical survey of recent art critical conceptions of photographic practice and related ontologies of art formed through the lens of Vilém Flusser’s media theory analyses of photography, technology and human existence.
In recent debates around the place of photography in contemporary art two positions have been particularly salient. In this paper I will refer to them as ‘Textuality’ and ‘Picture Form’. The first develops out of the postmodernist view of the photograph as a text, and evolves as an understanding of photography as a structural condition for art. This conception is particularly strong in theorists who set themselves against a medium-based theory of art. Theoreticians of Picture Form argue, on the contrary, that in the form of the picture photography becomes a medium in the artistic sense.
At base, the clearest theoretical thread common to both the Textuality and Picture Form positions is a standard understanding of the photograph as a technically produced indexical image. The photographic mechanism can then be assumed either to rid us of a burdensome image of sovereign subjectivity or, in being wrestled into a picture, to cement the intentional production of meaning by the subject. Vilém Flusser’s approach distinguishes itself from the Textuality and Picture Form perspectives, firstly in being primarily focused on technology and media rather than art, and secondly in having its theoretical base in a species of phenomenology. In its linking of the technically coded image with human intentionality, this paper argues, Flusser’s philosophy reframes the ontology and implied subjectivity of photography, creating a framework within which to reassess Textuality with Picture Form arguments.
Dr Andrew Chesher is a writer and documentary film-maker whose research interests include post-conceptual art practices, photography, phenomenology and continental philosophy. He is a Senior Lecturer and the Co-ordinator of a Stage 1 Theory on the Fine Art BA course at Chelsea College of Art and Design.
Flusser, code, art, photography
Brunel University London
The photographic archive and the Rwandan genocide: Victim portraiture at the Gisozi Memorial Centre, Kigali.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide claimed at least 800,000 lives in 100 days. At the time, the genocide was a “visually missed event” – only one piece of footage exists documenting the actual acts of killing. Its aftermath, however, has been widely represented in lens-based media: from the work of internationally renowned photographers, to blockbuster films, to niche documentaries and art installations.
This paper explores a rarely examined aspect of the use of still images in the commemorative and memorial process in Rwanda. It focuses on the Gisozi Memorial Centre in Kigali (the burial place of about 250,000 genocide victims) and in particular on the portraits of those killed in the genocide displayed within the Centre’s memorial/museum space (images sourced from personal archives: family snaps, driving licence and I.D card portraits etc).
The permanent exhibition of the portraits on the lower floor of the Centre is the result of the Aegis Trust’s 2004 project designed to work against the anonymity of the genocide. The project saw researchers collecting photographs of victims from across the country and digitising them at Gisozi. Individual elements of many personal archives became museum, commemorative objects – part of a very different archive. But they also became a visual message board with some images taken away by relatives and others altered with pens (to indicate genocide victims in group photographs). In 2010, the Gisozi Memorial Centre made its digital archive available online.
This paper investigates the changing nature of these images, their temporal/chronological and indexical relationship to the real, the remembered, the imagined. The discussion here is informed by references to the operation of memory and family photographs in the commemorative context of the Holocaust, processes of remembering in a museum space, and notions of image-related haunting. The paper also considers the changing lives of non-digital images in the digital age.
Piotr Cieplak is an academic, filmmaker and photographer. His work explores the documentary image’s relationship to memory, personal/public archive, evidence, death, commemoration and politics. Piotr has a particular interest in image-based representation of political violence and conflict (mostly in the African context), especially the Rwandan genocide.
Rwanda, genocide, photography, Gisozi Memorial Centre
University of Lincoln
Vector Portraits, or, Photography for the Anthropocene
The concept of the Anthropocene is no longer the preserve of geologists and climate scientists. We all now grapple with the idea that the planet will bear a permanent inscription produced, as Timothy Morton puts it, by human ‘terraforming’. Morton argues that the Anthropocene can be dated. He stresses the significance of 1784, when the invention of the steam engine led to the industrial depositing of carbon on a global scale. We might, though, consider another date: 1899 or 1901, the dates of Marconi’s wireless transmissions across the English Channel and Atlantic Ocean respectively. For it was the telegraph that, in McKenzie Wark’s words, ushered in ‘a regime of communication where information can travel faster than people or things.’ If the steam engine anticipated the machine logic of the industrial age, the telegraph did the same for the information age, for the age of the ‘vector’. How might photography come to express what Wark calls the ‘peculiar geography’ of the Anthropocene? How might the vectoral space of a thoroughly mediated world be grasped in terms of its radical relations, rather than its identities and forms? For as Wark makes clear, the abstract space of the vector exploits the fact that humans are always already technological beings, that we are inseparably linked to agencies, spaces and times that exceed us. This paper asks what a photographic practice truly immanent to the vector might look like. It proposes a photography for the Anthropocene, a photography that might create ‘portraits’ of the vector, that might provoke new intimacy with a world that is not our own. Vector portraits, this paper contends, would not reinforce a human world, but would instead reveal other-worldliness, would confront the paradox of an age named after the human at the very point at which the category of human has melted away.
Dr Rob Coley is a lecturer in the School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln. He is the author (with Dean Lockwood) of Cloud Time: The Inception of the Future (Zer0, 2012) and Photography in the Middle: Dispatches on Media Ecologies and Aesthetics (Punctum, forthcoming).
Anthropocene, Vector, Nonhuman
Cousinou Pablo Martínez
University of Seville
The aesthetics of invisibility in contemporary documentary photography. A reflection on the political sphere, memory and history of photographic representation.
This article proposes a critical review of the current aesthetic turn towards documentary practice in contemporary photography. It mobilizes a political perspective in order to develop a reflection on the different uses of documentary representations by examining photographic works that deal with the present through the representation of absence or emptiness.
We argue that aesthetic of invisibility within these works can be read from the cultural history of documentary photography as a symptom of contemporary societies. This aesthetic turn symbolises at least a double meaning. On the one hand, it represents the growing distance between power spheres and citizenship’s access to them in the era of virtual economy and late capitalism. On the other, the intentional use of absence, silence or emptiness, what we can term aesthetics of invisibility, could also be read as a conservative program and as a way to depoliticize documentary as a practice.
Within the debate between testimony and aesthetics, and the in-between space of photographic discourse between art and information, the present article
approaches documentary photography as a critique of culture and as a way to analyse visibility regimes at work in contemporary society. Its proposition should therefore be placed within the political history of documentary photography and in the interdisciplinary field of visual studies. In order to achieve this, we first recover the theoretical legacy of critical postmodernism, in particular work by authors such as Allan Sekula and Martha Rosler and then proceed to connect these texts with more recent contributions from cultural critics such as José Luis Brea, Jorge Ribalta or George Didi-Hubermann.
Pablo Cousinou is PhD student in Communication Studies at the University of Seville. Lecturer of Photography at the Faculty of Communication/EUSA (University of Seville). MA in Photography at the Polytechnic University of Valencia.
Aesthetics of invisibility, representation, late photography
Central Saint Martins
Getting lost by touching photography, the 21st Century condition.
“Where am I?” said the photographer to the fly.
The fly chose not to answer; it simply smiled then flew off into the trees… wishing to not be swallowed, again.
Whilst the claim of high energy drinks to ‘give you wings’, will sadly not provide the physical ability to fly across the globe, do not be discontented as a handheld mobile device with an internet connection and Google Mapping software will take you soaring across the sky in seconds. A bird’s eye view of the planet is now offered in the palm of your hand, and at your finger tips an intimate sensory exploration of the Earth’s landscape offering a new experience of the world and redefinition of photography through touch. To remain dislocated becomes the ultimate challenge for the modern day explorer.
Today, the understanding and experience of the 21st century landscape and photographic image is shifting into a fascinating, increasingly addictive place. Through developments in tactile technology, mobile handheld devices and GPS mapping in software programmes, the pertinent question now is where is photography, and therefore where is the individual who experiences the image?
As survival of the fittest has been replaced by survival of the cutest, tigers remain critically endangered in the wild and also virtually.Basic instinct will not save them or photography from extinction, as technology and tracking devices continually evolve and habitats change. The sentiment ‘I will survive’resonates as competition for this coveted title grows. New rules of play are required if the photograph is to thrive in this technologically engaged global society.
This talk will attempt to address a number of questions which has been asked of photographic practice, the image and the animal which seek to co-exist within this sensory dual domain, as one attempts to get lost and touch photography.
Sarah Crew is a practicing photographic artist and artist educator, graduating from Central Saint Martins MA Photography. Her research explores the changing relationships, connections and points of disjuncture between the human, animal and photography via contemporary technology. She exhibits regularly, most recently at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India and Tate Modern, London.
lost, kittens, tactile, explorer.
Central Saint Martins
Photography, the Information Machine and the ‘Collective Apparatus’
The cybernetic condition of photography has largely been overlooked by the art discourse. An emphasis on the image encouraged a perception of photography as a means of reflecting the condition of modernity in pictures. With 1.8 billion photographs shared daily on social networks, it is clear that the story of photography as reflection is far from over.
Photographic images however, could be perceived as a mere by-product of (or distraction from) many other processes; phenomenological, ontological, sociological, philosophical, historical and technological, which have largely been ignored as a result of the over-emphasis on images. The ontological emergence of photography indicates that its technological condition needs to be re-examined. I suggest a close relationship between the photographic machine and the information machine and their similarities of ontology, function as well as perception will be examined here.
It is not enough however as Deleuze indicates, to just think of the machines. ‘Machines don’t explain anything, you have to analyse the collective apparatuses of which the machine are just one component.’(1992) My final goal is to sketch how photographic and information machines indicate the condition of contemporary political philosophy and have since the industrial revolution. This is why it is necessary to examine them and to ground our relationship to them in telling their alternative history.
Valerie Driscoll is a London based Irish artist. Working with sculpture, film and online environments her work explores the cybernetic condition to devise strategies for the interlacing of visual culture and political philosophy. Her work is regularly exhibited internationally and supported by the Arts Council of England.
Cybernetics, Machines, Information, Apparatus
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Photo-tagging, Networked Effigies and Extended Selves
With the rise of online social network services (SNS) as key mechanisms for storing and displaying photographic images (approximately 300 million photographs are uploaded to Facebook every day), new techniques for identifying, classifying and circulating images have emerged. Notable among these is ‘tagging’: tags are words and verbal phrases associated by SNS users with uploaded photographs, and which – in the case of proper-name tags – serve to circulate those photographs among the contacts of those tagged. While most research on tagging has explored its potential system benefits compared to the top-down categorization of digital objects, recent work has also focused on the social motivations of those who tag. In contrast this paper offers some preliminary theoretical propositions emerging from the condition of being tagged in a photo, specifically the ontological shock that can result from the notification ‘You have been tagged’. It argues that while this shock exposes deep psychosocial anxieties about the application of automated software- driven procedures to anchors of selfhood, it also exceeds traditional privacy concerns regarding loss of control over information. Instead, this shock sheds new light on contemporary forms of figural and symbolic self-extension and indexical body- replication, on what we might call ‘tagged being’. Linking tagging to the power of naming, and conceptualizing photographs of oneself as both effigies (figurative symbols of the body) and exuviae (cast off body parts such as skin), it argues that digital photographs, perhaps more than most digital objects, act as vehicles for extended selves that are incarnated in material and virtual traces across space and time: unauthorized contact with them can create a powerful sense of violation. This further suggests that networked photographs have not been divested of thing-like magical attributes – especially attributes of ‘contagious’ or ‘sympathetic’ magic – despite recent claims that they are chiefly informational and algorithmic entities: rather, it is through their networking that these attributes are conspicuously animated. The digitization of photography is not equivalent to the disenchantment of the image.
Professor Paul Frosh teaches in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His publications span visual culture, the cultural industries and consumer culture, media coverage of violent conflict and national sentiment, media witnessing and moral concern. His books include The Image Factory: Consumer Culture, Photography and the Visual Content Industry and Media Witnessing: Testimony in the Age of Mass Communication (co-edited with Amit Pinchevski). He is currently engaged in a large-scale investigation of iconic photographs and Israeli collective memory, and is also writing about selfies.
Tagging, extended self, effigy
NOVA University of Lisbon
Tangled up with self-images: images of the self and photographic culture in the Internet.
After the digital revolution, photography as a physically and chemically originated technique might be dead, but photographic culture seems to be recrudescent and more expressive than ever in this second decade of the 21st century. The ubiquity and flow of very distinct photographic images characterizes the architectures and lives of most of the contemporary off-line and on-line computer environments. The dynamic relationships between individuals, hardware and images have a great impact in the production of new forms of subjectivities, new discourses on the self and in the construction of family identity.
Locations such as social networks, image bank websites or even email make us question not only how we contemporarily interact with images but what do images want from us (Mitchell, 2004).
Accordingly, the question I will try to tackle in this presentation, through specific case studies, is the following one: how do photographic film-based prints, namely portraits, work as images of the self and locus of negotiations of self-image(s)? As copies and simulacra of analogue photos (scanned or digitally rephotographed), these portraits and family snapshots are vested with meanings and functions considerably different from the ones they had in their original context of production and circulation. As objects, photographs mostly acted as instruments of self-identification for modern institutions and served as agents of familial narratives and memories of a given event or affection. More recently, before their copies and copies of those copies were set in motion in our computers and in the Internet, they were probably mere sleeping objects, vowed to a latent death in forgotten photo-albums and shoeboxes. Therefore, I’d specifically would like to explore in this presentation how digital images, as fundamentally transient images are technologies of the self particularly vested by psi discourses, enabling us to relate to ourselves as certain types of ‘personalities’ (Nikolas Rose, 2001), as persons with fundamental characteristics.
Ana Gandum is currently based in Lisbon and has mainly worked with photography in exhibitions, publications and audio-visual installations. She holds a Master 2 degree from History (Université Paris 8 – Saint Denis) and is completing a PHD in Artistic Studies – Arts and Mediations ( FCSH – UNL) on the topic of the correspondence of souvenir family photographs between Portugal and Brazil.
photography, copy, subjectivities, self.
CUNY Graduate Center
Photography, technology and the plasticity of visual perception.
Kendall Walton’s “transparency thesis” states that photographs, in virtue of their mechanical, counterfactual dependence on their subjects, facilitate perceptual contact with these subjects, allowing viewers to literally see them. However, he allows for a possible distinction between (i) seeing-through-photographs (viz. a mode of perception that shares features with, but is not identical to, vision proper) and (ii) direct seeing (viz. seeing something that’s located in one’s proximate visual field), and restricts the scope of his argument to the former. He offers this suggestion to mitigate concerns about the allegedly problematic or counterintuitive implications of his position—especially objections that his view neglects the aesthetic potential and exaggerates the epistemic value of photography. I argue that Walton should not make this concession and that treating photographic seeing as a distinct mode of perception dampens the force of the transparency thesis. Moreover, it is motivated by an implicit assumption that, unlike a photograph, direct seeing is inherently reliable, impervious to influence and epistemically authoritative. However, this assumption is obviously false: unaided vision is neither infallible nor epistemically authoritative, nor is vision ever unmediated. I argue that the transparency thesis should be read as a thesis about the nature of visual perception itself. Following Patrick Maynard, I argue that photography is, first and foremost, a technology that, like any technology, is defined precisely by its continuity with given human abilities and purposes. Direct seeing does not hold a privileged status as the paradigm of visual perception. Rather, visual perception is tremendously dynamic and adaptable to challenges. Walton’s transparency thesis reveals the extent of this adaptability: we can literally see objects in the world through the mediation of pictures.
Nada Gatalo is a PhD Candidate at the City University of New York, Graduate Center.
Photography, transparency, visual perception
Assistant Professor of Photography & Digital Imaging, Virginia Tech
Incursions: New Technologies in the Territory of Photography
In recent years, new technologies have emerged that infringe on territory photography has traditionally occupied. 3D capture tools continue the tradition of using light to inscribe the physical world, with the data that they capture resulting in physical objects or virtual models rather than the static, two-dimensional image familiar to photography. However, such objects retain the essence of what we think of as photographic. They are direct impressions of a subject, whose appearance at a particular moment in time is accurately reproduced. Their social function can also be considered in photographic terms, as artefacts that record history, preserve evidence, and activate the functions of memory. Alternately, the process diverges from photography in its primary concern with a physical replication of the subject’s form. It foregoes the indexical fidelity of photography and, therefore, occupies photographic territory with an aesthetic unease. These points of convergence and divergence offer compelling opportunities to imagine photography inside a new framework. The emerging relationship between photographic thought and new 3D capture and printing practices has yet to enter into a broad critical discussion and few artists are operating at this intersection. This presentation seeks to illustrate a creative dialogue, where each medium is used to think through the other, in two of my recent studio projects, Partial Architectures and Plain Sight.
Hans Gindlesberger’s practice engages a range of photographic traditions and thinking in examining how contemporary society constructs concepts of place. His photo, video, and installation work has been exhibited widely. Currently, he teaches in the School of Visual Arts at Virginia Tech, a leading program in the intersection of arts and technology.
3D Printing, Photogrammetry, Process, Vernacular
Central Saint Martins
The importance of failure in memory and the construction of the subjective experience
Failure and memory are two concepts that have been broadly addressed by contemporary artists in various discourses and media, either independently or in relation to each other. In fact, the Whitechapel Gallery has dedicated one book to each of these concepts in their collection Documents in Contemporary Art.
The aim of this paper is to examine how memory is generated and how it fails to stand in a positivist understanding of events. Through failure, another model of how memory operates and its consequences on individuals who share experiences and spaces with others will be provided. The key to do this is through understanding memory as a fragmented and non-linear entity. This will be done by looking briefly at the memory theories of Henri Bergson and other authors such as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari and the practice of artists such as Bas Jan Ader and the film Memento directed by Christopher Nolan.
Then, through the examination of specific artistic practices, where the manifestation of the so-called failures of memory are present and where failure becomes the means by which the work is produced rather than something to be avoided, a closer look on how memory can fail and what failure means will be provided.
Towards the end of this paper, the concept of rhizome will be discussed in relation to memory and taking into account everything that will have been developed in the following sections, the conclusion will be drawn as to what is the position of failure within the new model.
Helena Goñi, studied Fine Art in the University of the Basque Country and in 2013 moved to London to continue her practice and research in art, taking part at the MA Photography program in Central Saint Martins. Her main subjects of interest are intimacy, failure and memory.
memory, failure, fragment, non-linear
University of Gloucestershire
The World’s Most Amazing 100% Awesome Photography Theory
The nature of photography in higher education is undoubtedly changing. Not only has there been a general growth in photography courses (HESA data suggests a 39% with a 37% increase in overall enrolment between 2008-09 and 2012-13) but a concurrent emphasis on industry skills and commercial career outcomes (Edge 2009). Adapting the theory component of courses (often viewed as the key differential between FE and HE) to suit the new demands is surely a necessity. A few calls for such a re-examination have indeed been made (Haeffner 2008, Newbury 2009, Edge 2009, Bate 2010). But little has been offered that is not simply a rearticulation of the already dominant theoretical models.
Rather than relying on the well-trodden models that promote either the view of photographer as visionary or an emphasis on meaning generation, it is proposed here that theory and history in photography should look to the breadth of approaches found in film studies, given that film itself, like photography, spans the avant-garde through to the highly commercial. Nick Haeffner (2008) has initiated this argument, making the case for what has been termed ‘mid-range theory’ within film studies. Although Haeffner advocates the use of pragmatics in his article, I would propose two other areas of development for theorization in photography, with the explicit aim of developing our understanding of the commercially commissioned sector. These are genre studies and industry analysis in terms of production and distribution. Since most commercially-bound photographers work within industrial structures and constraints, both of these approaches would facilitate an understanding of creativity and innovation in this context. This would open up areas of photographic study that have thus far been largely ignored by academics, and more importantly would facilitate a closer relationship and dialogue between theory and practice in the educational context.
Dr Sharon Harper is Senior Lecturer in the School of Art & Design specializing in Photography at the University of Gloucestershire. Her research interests include creative industry structures and the intersection between art and commercial practice. More specifically, she has begun research on the changes in key skills of professional photographers.
Photography, theory, genre, industry
Lecturer in Photography, Falmouth University / Plymouth College of Art
Infinite imaginary: beyond the visual
The quest for a complete view is perhaps best articulated in the form of the panorama, a representation of a seemingly continuous whole. In the 21st century the panorama is encountered in multiple ways – through technologies built into modern day digital imaging devices, in virtual computer generated worlds of 3D modelling and games. Even our own movement around the space of a gallery recalls the immersive experiences of early painted panoramas. What links all these experiences is a practice of viewing that is neither stable nor static and is connected to a form of movement. Multiple encounters and multiple events emerge from the movement of viewing that is interrupted by distractions or the shifting of our attention elsewhere. It is as though, in seeking out completeness, we perceive only very limited fragments of experience at any given moment. Viewing is therefore an incomplete event.
This paper will consider whether incompleteness is a necessary part of viewing and whether a photograph is better understood not, as Barthes asserted, as a ‘certificate of presence,’ but in its connection to absence. The paper will ask how can a work effectively describe an absence and whether it is it possible to visually express absence or create a perceptible condition that embodies both presence and absence?
It will be argued that the ontology of digital photography emerges as an ecology of viewing, movement and transmission and that its representational properties are potentially less significant than its affective and sensorial ones. By examining the non-optical function of an image, which exposes the invisible, unconscious connections of the viewing subject, the paper will argue that digital photographs are not discrete flat visual surfaces or material objects. Instead they are considered as a part of subjective events that span physical and psychological experiences. It will suggest that digital photography is less about connections to the existence of actual things or people that are is its subject matter. Rather it will argue that in the space between a photograph and its viewer is a structuring absence out of which a complex of unfinished meanings may arise.
While digital technologies provide a framework for various types and forms of digital images produced, it also allows for them to be transferred into an always-updating, incomplete and infinite network of other imagery. The viewing subject’s interaction with such images is an integral part of the same continuous network of incompleteness. Located as a disembodied subject, like a viewer of the panorama with no centred point, the subject’s infinite imaginary shifts perception to a space beyond the purely visual.
John Hillman is an educator, artist and writer, currently completing his PhD, “Representing Communities and the Post-Industrial Landscape in the Shadow of the ‘Cornish Alps’,” at Falmouth University. He is interested in links between image, text, interpretation and ideological discourses. He is lecturer in photography at Plymouth College of Art and Falmouth University.
Infinity, ontology, panorama, post-representation
Levinas and the Photographic Undergone
Employing Levinas’ account of embodied passivity to challenge his rejection of vision as a disavowal of otherness, this paper argues that photographic portraits attest, in part, to the face in the radically disruptive sense Levinas wanted. A photograph makes visible a luminous world to which a camera had been exposed but crucially to see that world is to be exposed to that exposure, it is in brief to undergo the undergone. Our passivity before the photographic is guaranteed by its stillness, the latter refusing all time synthesis. Efforts to ‘make present’ what is seen in photographs fail but this failure is not a failure to see, it constitutes a failure to intend the seen as such. What is first intractable and unassimilable about looking at photographs is this existential insistence that persists, not as an intended object but as the very interruption of an intentional consciousness. If the photographic invites and yet refracts all reckoning, it does so first as a troubling of the visual or as a preservation of otherness, as Levinas said regarding the work of art. As Barthes put it the photographic referent adheres as a wound. Glossed otherwise as some ‘objectification’ or capture of some ‘past present,’ moreover by directing certain preferred meanings, there is no doubt that photographs invite presumptions to know. But there is more to vision and to looking at photographs than seeing as. Sight is first buoyed by light, photographic technologies mirroring in fact that irreducible debt, dependence and exposedness. What is so disruptive about the photographic is our seeing for ourselves that exposure. Inviting the selfsame and contesting that construct at its core, photographic portraits may be said to express the face insofar as it too exhibits a necessary tension between knowing and an ethical responsibility ‘set out from the outside.’
Professor John Hunting has a Ph.D. in Communications (2006) from McGill University and is currently teaching in the Humanities at Dawson College. His current research with ARTHEMIS (Advanced Research Team on History and Epistemology of Moving Image Study) examines the relevance of Levinas’ ethics and aesthetics for photography and film.
Levinas, embodied passivity, photography.
Goldsmiths College / Liverpool John Moores University
(Interrupting) the signifying regime of photographic image.
The realizing power of the photograph has been an index of its use-value especially in popular and documentary forms. It has taken the myriad uses of the photographic process to challenge the hold of representation, replacing ‘modern’ notions of production with consideration of affect, subjectivities and assemblages of enunciation that act upon and within the social. Given all of this the purity of the photograph as object remains largely unchallenged by the experiential and performative turns within visual cultures. This leads to over-determination the textualisation of the individual photograph. In opposition to this process is the use of the photograph as material. Whilst the appropriations of John Stezaker and Martha Rosler consider the photograph as raw material, Gerhard Richter’s photo/paintings seem to vacillate between two completely distinct registers. The photograph is spoiled, broken, interrupted; it is rendered into a polysemic hybrid, not quite painting, and no longer a photograph in the sense of Sontag or Barthes’ evocations. How does photography include these forms? Can we reverse the chronology of technical production and move towards a more undisciplined way of thinking? Wherever we operate within a disciplinary regimen the collision of distinct regimes creates a disjunction, a rupture that is both disruptive (of what?) and generative. The politics of this unfolds within, the signifying regime is revealed as formal validation. The original question remains, ‘How do images carry or convey meaning?’ but it is no longer just a technical question, it becomes socially and politically vital. How do regimes of power articulate themselves? How does the signifying flow create a paradigm from within which individual meanings are drawn? To witness what happens when signifying regimes collide can enable us to formulate new strategies for the interruption of dominant regimes, whether collage over photography, text over image or hegemony over difference.
Matthew Jonhson is an image-maker, St. Martins alumnus and senior lecturer in Graphic Design and Illustration at LJMU, and an MPhil/PhD candidate at Goldsmiths in the department of Visual Cultures. My practice-based research is into the relations between different signifying regimes and the affective image in the everyday.
Affect, semiotics, Guattari, interruption
University of Cumbria
The History of Photographic Temporality: From Visual Memory to Digital Amnesia
This paper reflects on the history of photography through tracing the subtle changes in its relation to time.
Early photography, in magically “fixing the shadows”, immediately shows a curious visual disruption of time. Suddenly, we could “see the past”. The world changed as its perception included visions of distant places and past times.
The photographic process then became easier, cheaper and therefore mundane. Familiar with views of the past, photography became a fascination with the “decisive moment”. Moreover, photography became remembering by revisiting the stills of the past. The world now was framed by photography, including views of old and new perceptions.
Both outlooks are essentially underpinned by the mechanical process of analogue photography. At its heart is the temporal distance between the taking of the image and the looking at it. There is an essential hiatus between the instant the shutter clicks and the emergence of the photograph.
One of the most crucial aspects of 21st century photography is the digital display. The distance between image taking and looking at it is no more. Rather, images are prior in perceptual experience, as it’s displayed before we press the shutter. Taking a photograph is a mere hesitation in choosing one of many already existing images. We may halt and show the picture to others, to then go on looking at the world and images unfolding around us.
The desire to revisit past moments arguably fades, as seen in the decrease of prints and the burden of digital archiving. The fleetingness of digital images creates an anxiety echoing the loss of physical images. The marvel of seeing the past as well as the fascination with lingering in past moments is now reduced to momentary attention to images. Yet, in looking at photographs we still remember being able to see the past.
Dr Katrin Joost teaches theory and research within the visual arts at the University of Cumbria. Her research is shaped by interest in Husserlian phenomenology. She published on the philosophy of photography and the organiser of conference series Visualising… bringing together theorists and practitioners discussing themes through the prism of photography.
Photography, Phenomenology, Temporality, History
Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem
Technological dictations and the formation of aesthetic norms: IDF Instagram as a tool of propaganda
This paper looks into the ways through which the aesthetic mechanism of Instagram is used as an emotive tool in institutional propaganda. The case study is Instagram photographs which were uploaded and published in the official site of Israeli Defence Force between 2012-2013. I also examined random Instagram photos which were tagged IDF and Zahal (IDF in Hebrew).
I will suggest that by using the technological possibilities, the site administrators attempt to form a conceptual frame embedded in ideological, aesthetical and emotional norms which the users share. This frame of values is understood as a common ground for the Israeli users, who were raised on myths about the army and the value of comradeship among warriors. The same frame of values serves them simultaneously as members of a social network which is based on fixed aesthetic norms such as chosen filters, colours and the “artistic” square shape which is similar to Polaroid images, which makes the photographs “sentimentally beautiful”.
Also common are values of sharing, the meaningful dual concept of “friends”, and the vital act of positive motivating, may it be the army’s hierarchic structure or the social network’s “likes”.
I will look into the ways through which the use of Instagram activates a unified code of symbols in the designed and processed photograph, which blends individuality and nationality, the beauty of nature, the aesthetic standards of the application and the admiration of armed forces.
And last, considering Instagram as a platform for individuals to perform and share their artistic creativity, goes along with another Israeli myth, which praises soldiers as sensitive individuals who fulfil their national duty, while expressing their feelings in secretly written poems and other forms of art. This myth will be discussed concerning the potential of fixed technological devices to create and promote mythical iconic photographs.
Ayelet Kohn is a senior lecturer at the Department of Photographic Communication, Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem, Israel. Her main research interests are multimodality and its uses in social contexts. She has published in Visual Communication, Social Semiotics, Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change and more.
Instagram, propaganda, IDF, Aesthetic-norms
Kremer Rachel C
Central Saint Martins
Selvedge: A photographer’s journey out of the frame
Through feeling apprehension for the inevitable absorption of our environment into a digitised, indivisible circuitry, the practice of walking is proposed as a dynamic and sensorial method to both contend and augment the potential limitations of a world be-coming further ‘enframed’ akin to the traditional photographic image.
Initiated via anthropologist Tim Ingold’s notion of a ‘meshworked’ instead of net-worked space; in which the concept of the line or edge can be thought of not as being merely a static beginning and an end, but as non-linear, fluid and wayfaring, the walk is examined also as an art-form—in particular, how it might both complement and unburden the conventions of lens-based technologies and present itself as an alternative photographic gesture; one which bears reference to Deleuzian repetition and multiplicity, and re-examines the frames and the peripherals: what lies neither inside or outside of the line, but along it in a continual trajectory of movement.
This concept of the line becomes further elucidated via examining its affiliation with the tactility of a landscape’s topological edges, folds and enclosures. Edward S. Casey’s study into categories of edge will be applied to the process of walking and the walker’s psychogeographic ability to re-territorialize. In looking where we are going, and ‘watching our step’, are we actively comprehending, ‘framing’ and identifying with the imagistic qualities of the location, or simply making a visual sweep of it to ascertain our bearings? Paradoxically, could walking not necessarily bear any relation to visual practices at all—and that perhaps the issue lies with the expectation of the image? Selvedge (from self + edge), becomes a neologism to consider the walking individual as having the capacity to unfold surface and space; to infinitely present—rather than represent—an environment in rhythmic motion.
Rachel C Kremer is a peregrinator, islomaniac and artist (in that order) who works with images, performance and poetry.
walking, edges, image, mapping
García –Garrido Mercedes
University of Alcala
Fandom and intimacy around teens’ digital photography
Among the challenges that researchers investigating the relationship of children and youth with mass media will face in the coming years is to know how digital photography, often associated with mobile devices, transform people’s practices (Goggin & Hjorth, 2014). These mediating tools are understood as tools related to hardware and software innovations that facilitate the access to information in entertainment situations. When exploring these practices in the light of the current theoretical models, traditional conceptual distinctions such as global /local, real/virtual and public/private blur (Coleman, 2011; Turkle, 2011).
We consider the young participants in digital and community environments as productive audiences using multimodal discourses. Such participation (Jenkins, 2013) is explored when two dimensions (usually explored independently) intersect: on the one hand, fandom phenomena (Duffett, 2013) associated with specific communities built around the images of particular heroes in a global world. On the other, when intimate relationships, friendships and personal and imaginary perspectives coming from both the heroes and those who admire them are also present in these communities (Chambers, 2013). That is, when young people become productive global and local actors, public and private feelings intersect around photography.
The paper examines the communication processes present in those communities where interpretations of the world, values, and knowledge associated with the construction of personal and collective representations. The meaning of images comes from the exchange of content and connections with others in the network (Boyd, 2014). In this context, teens are agents from an individual and collective perspective and non-visual dimensions of photography need to be considered. When visual content passes from one person to another, it becomes reconstructed and transformed, even if through a selection. Images flow at high speeds and messages transform its content and adapt to what other people exchange over the network
Research group Images, Words, and Ideas explores young people’s and children’s everyday activities when interacting with digital media,. Communication contexts and entertainment settings are intertwined in our work, based on three axes:: 1) Everyday life and new media. 2) The Performances, productions, and messages of young people 2) People participation in fandom phenomena.
digital media, communication, everyday, performativity
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Practice and Exegesis of Post-Photography. Three Possible Uses of Digital Image
Joan Fontcuberta published the essay “For a Post-photographic Manifest” in 2011. The author resumes some of the previous hypothesis, such as the ones published in 1996 as part of the Catalogue of the exhibition “Photography After Photography. Memory and Representation in the Digital Age”. The above-mentioned essay is a call for attention to the Arts and Sciences community regarding some fundamental recent changes in photography, which led to label some of the new photographic practices as post-photographic. According to the author, we have been witnessing a new stage in the history of photography distinguishable, among other issues, by the dematerialization of the image as a result of the new digital technology for image capturing and post-production.
Shortly after, some collective exhibitions illustrated these concepts: “Ouvre-Collection. The Artist as a Collector” (Fundació Foto colectania-Barcelona, 2013), “From Here On: Post-Photography in the Era of Internet and Mobile Phones” (Arts Santa Mònica-Barcelona, 2013) and “Photography 2.0” as part of the latest edition of PhotoEspaña-Madrid. As a result, we can contemplate new artistic projects that adopt images generated by other users, works that use digital features as native photographic language and creative approaches that reflect on broadcasted images.
Taking all this into consideration, it seems undeniable –although, there are still discrepant voices, such as Michel Frizot– that a new artistic environment has emerged reflecting the concerns of this transformed photographic scenery. At the same time, the current state of facts fosters a very specific use of photography affecting the plasticity of numerous images. This conference paper intends, on one hand, to critically gloss the concept of Post- Photography while connecting it with the previous iconic lineage. On the other hand, this lecture aims to analyse three projects created by young Spanish photographers who work under the theoretical notions of Post-Photography: Adoption, code and mediation.
Dr Nieves Limón has a PhD in Mass Media Research at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Master in Contemporary Art History and Visual Culture of Universidad Autónoma de Madrid/ Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Nieves currently lectures at the Journalism and Communication department of UC3M. Her research focus is Theory and Analysis of the Photographic Image.
Post-Photography, Picture, Digital, Image
University of South Wales
The singular photograph in durational time
The Soviet author Vasily Grossman writes (before his death in 1964) of a faith in the eternal from an unanticipated eye- opening apparition of the maternal, which is simply “They are one—and they are separate.” That they are one and separate is the salient foundational experience of the indexical image. Can the singular photograph still splinter durational time in a flash of recognition? If the maternal/immortal is an aspect of the photographic punctum arising from specific images where does it exist in the constant shuffle and scree of the networked image? (or the Family Album facebook’d and instagram’d?) Is its meaning utterly divorced from ‘history’? I propose a paper that seeks the atemporal punctum/splinter from the force of images hurtling past us.
Dr Eileen Little teaches photography at the University of South Wales, is currently Course Leader for the BA Photographic Art, and has completed a PhD at the University of Leeds entitled: Encountering traumatic history through the autobiographical.
Grossman, punctum, atemporality, networked image
University of Roehampton
Levinas, Buber and Photography as a Practice of Ethics
Can photography be an ethical practice and a basis for the good? Can the relationship between the photographer and photographed be such that there is a greater possibility for truth and justice, and a greater possibility that violence will not be done? Questions to be explored include: What helps or hinders an exploration of the most effective expressions of photographers’ (and their teachers’) desire to help? Is it possible to have both justice and action? Are, for example, our photographic theories mainly perpetuating unintentional violence? In photography, as elsewhere, has traditional thinking been replaced by theories with fields of knowledge, territories and ownership of subject disciplines policed by economic licensing arrangements and an audit culture, which in turn attempt to control the visual, language and thought – appropriating difference sometimes in the name of difference? Alternatively, in examining issues of photography as a practice of ethics in terms of ideas of truth, justice and responsibility, is there, within a 21st century neo-liberalist world, an ethical post postmodern basis on which we can assist in an embodied way so that we can help others not do violence to others? Indeed is it possible for photographers not to interrupt their own and others’ continuity, not to play roles in which they no longer recognise themselves and whereby they betray not only their commitments but their own substance? Such questions will be explored with the help of the continental philosophers, Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas. A concluding question is: Whether Levinasian ethics can sometimes give rise to truth and justice providing an essential basis for good transformational practice; or, whether this is another delusion of late modernism.
Professor Del Loewenthal is the director of the research centre for Therapeutic Education and and the convener of Doctoral Programmes in Psychotherapy and Counselling in the University of Roehamption.
Levinas, Buber, Ethics, Photography
Senior Lecturer, Tel Aviv University
Affective Communities and the Movement of Images: On Active stills Protesting Photographs
What would it mean to think about photography as an act? What would it mean to move from questions of representation and reference into ones of transmission, circularity and iterability? Recently scholars such as Ariella Azoulay and Thomas Keenan proposed to analyse photographs as transitive, as images that by pointing to the “real” also call for civil action or are themselves actions within highly contested and antagonistic social and political environments. This shift in critical analysis from the representational aspects of photography (the image relation to its referent) to its performative ones (the intersubjective relations between viewer or user and image), has major epistemological and political implications for understanding the critical viability of photography in the current moment. As it is no longer in its status as a “document” or irrefutable form of evidence and testimony that photography acquires its prominent role within global visual culture, but in its capacity to foster belief in specific framings of the real, what Judith Butler calls frames of war and violence. That is, in its ability to relay political and ethical affects that are inseparably sensorial, perceptual and material.
This paper focuses on the work of the photographers collective Activestills. This non-profit collective numbers a dozen photographers – Israeli, Palestinian, and international – working in Israel/Palestine since 2005. Activestills photographs acquire their political currency and meaning not simply because they document protesting communities and acts of military and state violence that are inflicted on them. Their power resides not only in what is seen in them, but in their operative mode of transmission, circulation and dissemination. These images are performative rather than representative since they are subject to continuous acts of reinscription and repetition through which sovereign power’s strategies of possession (of land and territory) and control (of subjects and populations) are challenged. It is through the very movement of the photographs as objects, images, and signs, transmission between different surfaces (body, wall, screen), and circulation within different platforms (websites, public spaces, print publications) that these photographs take part in the continuous mobilization and propagation of political struggles.
In their movement and circulation, Activestills photographs point to another major shift in the current status of photography. While their images are often gestural and dramatic due to the confrontational and violent nature of the events they depict, they refrain from any visual rhetoric of suffering and destitute. These images are not meant to solicit emotions such as empathy, compassion, shame or guilt, and in this sense, I will argue, they mark a new threshold for digital documentary photography today. The inherently circulating and transitive status of Activestills photographs show that, as Sara Ahmed argues, emotions are operative, they do things. Emotions are not interiorized characteristics of individual or collective bodies, but what operate through specific forms of circulation to “make” or “shape” the surfaces and boundaries of bodies. Rather than seeing emotions as individual psychological dispositions, Ahmed suggests that they need to be seen as part of “affective economies” through which specific values accumulate, and constitute certain bodies as vulnerable and immobile. It is thus through their movement and circulation that Activestills photographs aim not to “shock” the viewer, but to disrupt the affective economies through which the Palestinians are constituted as inherently vulnerable “disposable” non-subjects as part of Israel’s racist segregation policies.
Vered Maimon is a Senior Lecturer in the Art History Department at Tel Aviv University. Her essays on the history and theory of photography and contemporary art appeared in October, Oxford Art Journal, History of Photography, Art History, and Third Text. Her book, Singular Images, Failed Copies: William Henry Fox Talbot and the Early Photograph,is forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press in Fall 2015.
Activism, affect, performative, emotions
University of Sunderland
Shifting powers: digitality, modularity and (im)materiality in the 21st century post-colonial archive
This paper seeks to explore the impact of digital technologies upon the material, conceptual and ideological premises of the archive, with specific emphasis on the novel use and exhibition value of the colonial archive in the era of Web 3.0. This analysis is pursued though a discussion of the findings of an international, multidisciplinary artist workshop in Yogyakarta in Indonesia that used the digital colonial archive to critically investigate the ways national, transnational and personal history and memory in the former colonies has been informed and shaped by the colonial past. We specifically focus on how the artists’ employment of digital media contests and reconfigures the use, truth value and power of the colonial archive as an entity and institution. Case studies include: Thai photographer Dow Wasiksiri, who questions the archive’s mnemonic function by means of digital manipulation; Malaysian artist Yee I-Lann, who adopts a speculative photomontage to represent onto the same picture plane different historical moments and colonial narratives; and Indonesian photographer Agan Harahap, who recomposes archival photographs into unlikely juxtapositions. Recontextualised and repurposed online on different platforms, their work becomes part of the expanded post-colonial archive and proposes a reframing not only of the politics of colonial representation, but also of the validity and veracity of the photographic image as evidence and historical record. We also argue that the transition from the material colonial archive of the 20th century to the immaterial post-colonial archive of the 21st century also makes possible a shift in power relations allowing formerly colonised subjects to have unprecedented access to and control over the representation of their history.
Dr Alexandra Moschovi is Programme Leader of the MA Photography, University of Sunderland. Moschovi has published widely on the history and theory of photography’s expanded field. She co-edited the publications Greece through Photographs (Melissa Publishing, 2007) and The Versatile Image: Photography, Digital Technologies and the Internet (Leuven University Press, 2013).
Alexander Supartono is curator and photo historian.Recent curatorial projects include Noorderlicht’s The Sweet and Sour Story of Sugar (Netherlands, Indonesia, Suriname, Brazil, 2010-2013) and Afterimage (Singapore, 2014). He lectures in the history of photography at Edinburgh Napier University while completing a PhD in Art History at St. Andrews University.
Archive, Digitisation, Colonialism, Postcolonial
University of the Arts, London
‘WOW?’ Towards Immanence (as Post-Representation) in Art & Politics by way of Modern Technologies
I would like to take the opportunity of the 21st century photography: art, philosophy, techniques conference to air the long-held but recently coalescing ideas alluded to in my working title above. I have been interested in the conundrum of articulating thoughts on post-representation since the 1990s and encountered the concept of immanence –with a kind of relief- at about the same time. To me immanence is not only opposed to transcendence but to the transcendent status or function of representation.
In this paper I will set out and test this relation between immanence and representation and discuss the way that a history of modern technologies – from the invention and proliferation of photography through, film, ‘live’ and recorded video, to digital imaging and social networks – may have progressed modern societies from an art and a politics which share representation as a central concept towards an art and politics that increasingly –under the influence of technologized images and communications – bring us into proximity with a condition of post-representational immanence.
Beginning with Walter Benjamin championing the politicizing effects of photography and film upon aesthetics I will move through historical examples, referencing Robert Smithson’s use of language and photography and the influence of video technologies on late 20th century artists like Bruce Nauman to then discuss 21st century Big Data-imaging and social networks wherein media, through exponentially increasing speed and ubiquity can be seen as leading us into a post–representational, and therefore immanent condition with potentially profound consequences for established and current ideas concerning the value, qualities and function of both art and politics.
I will briefly cite Martin Heidegger’s writings on technology and uses of the term ‘immanence’ in the thought of Gilles Deleuze. I will also refer to the art of John Gerrard, Jon Rafman, Hito Steyerl, Ryan Trecartin and the Big Data research of Lev Manovich.
Dr Paul O’Kane publishes articles for Art Monthly and Third Text. His practice explores narrativity through a history of still and moving image technologies, a theme pursued in his teaching at UAL and elsewhere.
Immanence, Art, Politics, Technology
University of Oxford
Towards Thinking in Photography
This paper intends to carve the way towards a theory of thinking in photography, that is to say – of thinking photographs. Roland Barthes suggested that photography is most interesting when it is be pensive, when it thinks. Jacque Rancière added that the pensive photograph ‘contains unthought thought’ that resists both creator and spectator. Is this a new way of understanding images, or a natural continuation of existing visual traditions?
The notion of artistic practice as related to thinking is by no means a contemporary one. Within this centuries-old discussion, that has its theoretical roots in the advent of modernity, and that reaches a certain culmination in the philosophic genre of still life, artworks, and particularly paintings, have long been viewed and considered as a form of thought and thinking. Marcel Proust and Maurice Merleau-Ponty are both comfortably inserted into this philosophical trajectory.
Photography’s place within that tradition, however, is not an easy one. Many of the philosophical accounts surrounding thinking in painting focus on the devices through which painting is said to be thinking. Hubert Damisch, for instance, proposes the perspectival paradigm as a formal or expressive apparatus. Yves Bonnefoy focuses, too, on perspectival construction, which for him serve as a device that introduces time and the temporal as a central concern of the painting. A third famous instance is Gilles Deleuze, who addresses colouristic modulation of painted space as a creation of a haptic, somatic sensation that is related to thinking. Are these thinking devices applicable to photography?
Through the discussion of these theories, this paper seeks to map the existing philosophical landscape vis-à-vis artistic forms of thinking. Locating photographic thought within that landscape is the first step towards understanding the peculiarities of photographic thinking.
Anita Paz is an Oxford-Dowding DPhil student in Art Theory at the University of Oxford. Anita’s work was published in peer-reviewed journals and on online platforms.
photography, philosophy, thinking, painting
University of Nicosia and University of Reading
Towards an Understanding of Photography as a Spatial Practice
Ed Ruscha’s photographs of ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations’ have often been described as “deadpan” and the tendency has been to categorize them as typological or topographical recordings of American highway architecture. Recently Professor Margaret Iversen expressed the view that Ruscha’s book should be seen as a form of readymade and that his photographs are ‘performative’ in the sense of the artist performing to self-imposed instructions: ‘record 26 gasoline stations along Route 66’. Contrary to Iversen’s reading I point out that a careful study of these photographs reveals traces of self-reference. I argue that these photographs refer the viewer to the event of photography as a spatial practice that takes place in time and over time. Rather than see Ruscha’s book as a readymade I argue its function in terms of what Brian Masumi had termed as a constructed narrative space of ‘crafted facts of experience’. I further suggest that Ruscha’s gasoline photographs are precursors to a type of contemporary art photography that foregrounds the individual’s unsettled engagement with place. For example Roni Horn’s intensively personal involvement with Iceland has led to a set of publications entitled ‘To Place’. These books, which are mainly photographic, defy normative representational practices and allude to the artist’s concern with being there as an active state of being.
I conclude this presentation by showing a short extract from my own audio-visual research project entitled ‘Traces of Presences’ (work in progress). This is a multi voice project involving different contributors. It is being developed into a visual and audio topological map of the city of Nicosia.
Haris Pellapaisiotis is assistant professor at the University of Nicosia where he lectures on photography and art. He had lived in London where he lectured on photography at Goldsmith’s College. Haris is an exhibiting artist working primarily with photography. He has also worked commercially as a photographer. He is presently involved in PhD research at the University of Reading.
Photography, Space & Place, EdRuscha, Roni Horn.
Manchester Metropolitan University
This paper presents a body of experimental and exploratory practice. The work’s origin lies with an object, a direct positive image of that object and a set of intentions for practical experiments using the two artefacts. The paper aims to present opportunities to discuss new ways of making photographic images and photographic objects and the notion of the photographic copy.
The practice explores productive iterations around the object and its image using both analogue methods and 3D printing to create new images/objects, which progressively feed into a generative creation process.
The starting point for investigation is a sheet of black paper that once wrapped around a package of AGFA Record Rapid darkroom paper keeping it light tight. The remaining sheets were eventually used to make some darkroom prints. At that time I was conscious of the paper being protected by this wrap-around sheet, but it was only when all the paper was used and there was no further purpose to protect the it that any additional significance became apparent.
Performing its protective function, it had traced the form of that paper it surrounded. Operating as an index of the gradually depleted paper stack, a functionless form was realised at the transformative point of the darkroom paper’s total consumption.
This newly created object appearing like a wall relief or casting, serves as both metaphor for the progressive obsolescence of darkroom technologies, whilst simultaneously being productive as an artefact that only come to be as a product of the formers depletion.
Through an engagement with 3D printing and the conceptualisation of this technology as a photographic reproductive process that I have considered the potential of the artefact as a symbol of digital photographic technologies engagement with materiality and the photographic transformation of objects in ways not possible with analogue media.
Dr David Penny is an artist and lecturer. He recently completed a practice based PhD titled Pictures of Things and Things that are Pictures, exploring the materiality of the photographic object, through practices utilising found and constructed objects. Fragments, Monoliths, Portals, accompanying the thesis was published by Source in February 2014.
3D printing, experimentation, index, objects
Curating Photography in Digital Age: New Challenges and Case Study of “Blog Re-blog”
This paper examines how photographic exhibitions can both formally and conceptually reflect the changing face of the photographic landscape, bringing curators into an active discussion on the shifting stability of photographic imagery, through a case study of “Blog Re-blog” project. The sweeping advance with which digital technologies have entered into our daily lives has altered all spheres of photographic production and reception. As theorists have argued (Hand 2012), today photography functions in a profoundly expanded field. The photographic image is ubiquitous; it continuously, and not rarely without consent, enters the field of our vision. The screen-based culture (Dewdney 2013: 95-112) marred with Internet platforms – such as Tumblr, Flickr, and Instagram – offer new ways for the sharing and viewing of photographs. The techniques employed by these websites, such as a continuous scroll, allows for a quick viewing of a large quantities of images and an ease of access. Artists took advantage of new platforms, recognising an opportunity for self- promotion and networking. Through the sharing of their own work, as well as the commenting, “liking” and “re-blogging” of the works uploaded by others, artistic networks are constructed and expanded.
The vastly enlarged functionality, as well as the ubiquity, of a network-empowered art photograph poses a challenge to the traditional notion of curating photographic images. The question arises: how to account for the dramatic change in exhibitions, from a curatorial perspective? Despite the palpably felt fact that the landscape has shifted, the absolute majority of photography exhibitions still rely on a time honoured tradition of wall-hanged prints and the idea of a contemplating viewer looking at them. The networked image challenges the validity of this model. It does so by underlining the gap between the idea of a contemplative spectator looking at isolated artworks and the contemporary condition of viewing art photographs, and foregrounding the increasingly blurred notions of authorship and curatorship. Martin Lister (2013: 8) has argued that the way we, as viewers, pay attention to photographs online is decidedly different and more distracted than a viewer imagined in a traditional gallery-installed prints exhibition. In this context of a marked change, a need for exhibitions that would account for and reflect the new arrangement has arisen.
“Blog Re-Blog” (Austin Center for Photography, 2014; curated by Max Marshall and Paulius Petraitis) was initiated as a response to the challenges to traditional photography posed by the empowered networked digital image. Two hundred projected photographic images were selected in a process that consciously mimics the process of “re-blogging”: two groups of one hundred photographers were randomly paired together and given a task to select an image from each other’s online portfolio to be exhibited. “Blog Re-Blog” deliberately aims to reflect the online culture of post-curatorship, underlining the ways images are circulated, as well as problematizing the notions of authorship, curatorship and crediting in the digital landscape of photography. As exhibitions experiment with breaking away from a strict traditionalist format – gallery hung isolated prints aimed at a concentrated viewer – the ability of a photographic image to function in a network culture can be uncovered in perspectives offered by the curatorial position.
Paulius Petraitis is a curator, photographer, and PhD candidate at Middlesex University, London. His research follows the historical trajectory of Peirce’s index within photography theory. Petraitis’ recent curatorial project “Blog Re-blog” (Austin Center for Photography, 2014) reflects the challenges of curating photography in a network-empowered culture
Digital Photography, Curating, Network Culture, Blogging
Delft University of Technology
The Libidinal Field: Street Photography and Urban Cartography
Street photography is at its best when the photographer combines the set variables of a situation and renounces any order of preference (morality), any organisation in relation to a goal (teleology), any overarching signification (paranoia). By turning obstacles into means, the photographer creates new ways of perceiving, a surplus to that which exists. The photography so conceived is not merely an expression of its environment, but its simultaneous construction through a process of ‘worlding’ (becoming). Contrary to the phenomenological tradition, it is something, rather than of something. The essentialist question of ‘what is it?’ gives way to the question of ‘what it can do?’ According to Guattari, this is an ethical issue, or better, an ethico-aesthetical one. What matters is good and bad encounters. Increases and diminutions of power are, in turn, reciprocally determined by a ‘realm of perception that’, according to Benjamin, ‘changes over time and in accordance with shifts in cultural and intellectual direction.’
Following Spinoza, Deleuze calls ‘affect’ any mode of thought which does not represent anything. The succession of ideas, defined by their representational character, is not to be confused with the regime of variation of the force of existing. In other words, the affect is not reducible to an intellectual comparison of ideas but constituted by the passage from one degree of ‘perfection’ to another. In the process, one’s power of acting is either augmented (joy) or inhibited (sadness). We thus arrive at Spinoza’s most fundamental discovery: we do not know a priori what a body is capable of. To put it simply, things are powers, not forms.
The paper will provide the schizoanalytic cartography of a 2015 photo series ‘Luxembourg à pied’ by the Luxembourg-based Croatian photographer Ivan Radman <https://ivan-radman.squarespace.com>
Andrej Radman is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Architecture Theory Section, TU Delft. His research addresses Gibson’s ecological approach to perception and his unwitting affiliation with Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism. Radman is also a practicing architect and the recipient of the Croatian Architects Association 2002 Annual Award for Housing Architecture.
Spinoza, Deleuze, affect, libidinal field
Reinhuber Elke E.
School of Art, Design and Media / NTU Singapore
Photography and beyond – Scientific imaging as aesthetic practice?
An increasing interest in scientific imaging has been evident in recent years, notably in the production of art and specific exhibitions, but also in the popular media and advertising simultaneously. Images that are captured by machines and allegedly read by machinery, open a new era – not just for a yet not defined aesthetic journey, but also to provide insight into a hidden layer of reality.
By virtue of scientific imaging all those still invisible layers of our world can be accessed and as well assessed. But soon, more and more of these technologies will become commonplace and used presumably in the most trivial manner. Nevertheless, how can we actually value these images?
Based on a selection of examples applying scientific imaging techniques in fine art, advertising and my own artistic practice, this research suggests a new iconography for reading these yet unclassified representations of particular aspects of our life and environment.
In my own artistic practice, so far I researched the means of scientific visualisations for my documentary “3 Tesla”, which was shown in the exhibition “Maschinensehen” in ZKM Karlsruhe and in the Fotomuseum Winterthur. Applying a well established technique of scientific image generation, I created the stage videos for the ballet “Mythos” at Badisches Staatstheater with support of the Fraunhofer Institute.
Elke Reinhuber is a media artist who teaches and explores at ADM/NTU Singapore. In her current artistic research, Reinhuber investigates the correlation between decisions and emotions and explores different strategies of visualisation and presentation, working with immersive environments, augmented reality and imaging technologies.
Scientific Imaging, Iconography, Expanded Photography, Thermography
The Cass faculty of Art, Architecture and Design
The Non-discursive Imago
I would like to discuss the therapeutic usefulness of the artefact, specifically the self-portrait photograph. More specifically the artists’ therapeutic relationship with the artefact in practice. This place where the artist addresses not the ‘real person’ — as perhaps a representation presented in a reflection in a mirror — ‘but instead addresses the “Other” of his dreams, his fantasies, his imaginings’ (Roustang 1996:53). What is the nature of this discourse with this unconscious idealised mental image. This imago.
I present ‘Self-Portrait XVIII – Ibid. (2014)’ by way of illustrating the artists’ attempt at constructing a whole person. A regrouping of symbols through practice that offers an opportunity for (re)construction. As a place of reflection outside of self and engage in conversation, because ‘he is in many ways a stranger to himself, he is susceptible to seeing himself in an image that, until now, has been fabricated by other people or other facts’ (ibid. p.10).
As in psychoanalysis — a regular discourse of the ‘Imago’ with ‘anOther’ — these photographs become an interface and can be used as a form of photo-therapy. In collaboration with two practicing psychoanalytic psychotherapists and over a two-year period, twenty-four self-portrait images were analysed —images exchanged for language — in an intersubjective process that I call Pathography.
An artist might implicitly have a sense of what is communicated, but can this tacit knowledge be deduced as the artist refines the work alongside interpretation, by which this process can be seen as a therapeutic tool and a form of pathography?
Spencer Rowell is an artist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist with a practice in Soho, London. He also lectures in photography and is in the process of completing his research project entitled:
Psychoanalysis, Self-portrait Photography, Pathography
Senior Lecturer, Deputy Director Centre for Research Architecture, Senior Lecturer, Deputy Director Centre for Research Architecture
Debates are currently taking place amongst scientists as to whether we have entered a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – to reflect humanity’s considerable impact upon earth. Yet it is not enough to understand these transformations purely in terms of their radical geological reorganization, we must also confront their violence as fundamentally imagistic. Anthropogenic matter is relentlessly visual in throwing disturbing images back at us: extreme pictures of radically warped landscapes and polluted atmospheres from which we should recoil in horror were we not now also part of their same metabolic arrangement. I forward the proposition that we have, by extension, also entered a new geo-photo-graphic era in which contaminated environments have been transformed into vast photosensitive arrays that are registering and recording the transformations induced by modern industrialization and their contaminating practices. From the photonic properties of hydrocarbon oil films exemplified by the Deepwater Horizon spill off the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the spectral gamma rays emitted by the radioactive fallout at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011, to the light-filtering effects of urban smog and black carbon deposits that are altering the refractive properties of Arctic snow, a comprehensive image-archive of material wrongs has emerged. The paper highlights key aspects of my on-going research investigations, which are drawn from these aforementioned areas – irradiated zones, oil spills, dark snow, and smog scapes and suggests that they offer paradigmatic case studies for exploring the agency of toxic materiality as a form of non-human photography. Why? Because of the unique manner in which industrial practices and environmental systems combine to produce photographic-like events, sharing many of the same optical properties and chemical processes identified with the lens-based technologies of photography and film.
Dr Susan Schuppli is an artist and writer whose research practice examines media artefacts that emerge of sites of contemporary conflict and state violence to ask questions about the ways in which media are enabling or limiting the possibility of transformative politics. She is Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths.
ecology, pollution, photography, anthropocene
Liquify, Blur and Merge: Photographic and Surgical Adventures of 21st Century Korean Women.
This paper examines how the reality recreates itself after the manipulation of the photographic image through digital and medical technologies. By technologies, I refer to digital retouching and surgical reshaping that recurs one after another. In this cycle, the simulated image comes first and the reality follows it as Jean Baudrillard suggests. This Baudrillardian cycle deviates from the existing discourse around digital photography that is highly concerned with the medium’s factual credibility.
I am particularly interested in portraits of young South Korean women in their teens and twenties, who photoshop and post their photographs on the Web to earn Internet stardom. These images are interesting not only because they are photoshopped to the extent that the girls in them look unreal—and even identical to one another—but also because the sitters’ artificial appearances are realized through plastic surgery. Going through this cycle repeatedly, women become Harawaian “cyborgs,” combinations of “condensed image of both imagination and material reality.” They trespass the boundaries between the fiction and the social reality and create alternative spaces—on the Internet and on their own bodies—where they experiment different potentials. By analysing the particular tools and attributes most frequently used in Adobe Photoshop (liquify, blur, and layer) in analogy to surgical practices, this paper proposes a new relationship that the interplay between the real and the photographic images generate with different technologies in the digital age.
Seungyeon Gabrielle Jung is a PhD student in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She is also a graphic designer specialized in advertisement, branding, and editorial design. Her academic interests include globalization and Westernization, feminism, consumer culture, design as/and media, and East Asian popular culture.
Photoshop; plastic surgery; photographic manipulation; cyborg feminism.
Central Saint Martins
Fissures in the image of thought
Copy of A copy of A copy of A copy of A copy of.. Trent Reznor’s formula sounds so much more exciting and seductive than two millennia old formula of representation and identity also known as A = A. Oversubscribed to central perspective, concerned with clarity and distinctness, too content with the content of the image and strongly bonded with its apparatus, photography of the past century repeatedly failed to see the invisible and recognise itself as copy of a copy, acting (in a sense of an actor learning a role to play needed by authority) as a copy of some ideal original. With new technologies of image production and dissemination, four pillars of the image of thought begin to crack, with identity and recognition losing the centre stage to difference and repetition. Through the emergence of the ability to photograph everywhere, automated camera and ubiquitous digital dissemination of images, photography is suddenly revealed as the medium of copy, with the uncountable recurrences of the same, with all its subject and the objects becoming simulacra, rendering only difference as real and originary. This text will not provide an answer to how to create in form of a cook book recipe, where three cups of tradition and a cup of chaos will do. It is a mediation, a theme repeated with its variations and improvisations, a theme itself a variation on, to paraphrase Trent again, all what photography can be.
Dario Srbic lives and works in London, UK and Berlin, Germany. Currently he studies MA Photography at Central Saint Martins investigating photographic image in context of obsession, difference and repetition. He is recipient of the Photographic Angle Award Bursary in 2014.
photography, difference, simulacra, copy
University of the Arts London
Chemical Projections: Anachronism and Contingency in Basim Magdy’s Slide-Based Works
In Investigating the Color Spectrum of a Post-Apocalyptic Future Landscape (2013), Basim Magdy compiles a sequence of eighty slides showing desolate scenery in Lanzarote. The colour effect is produced through an experimental process of exposing the film to industrial chemicals in an enclosed environment over a period of time, to which the artist refers to as ‘pickling’. Unlike the previous slide-based work, A 240 Second Analysis of Failure and Hopefulness (with Coke, Vinegar and other Tear Gas Remedies) (2012), in which the same experimental method was applied as a reflection on the chemically contaminated present of a specific time-space in Egypt, Magdy shifts the focus on a possible future scenario, simulating in the sequence a seemingly immanent catastrophe as it was envisioned repeatedly in the past by science fiction writers and filmmakers.
With Kodak’s decision to discontinue its manufacture of slide projectors in 2004, the technology used in both of the works is in the process of becoming extinct. This paper proposes that their effect is therefore largely based on a particular anachronistic treatment of analogue photography. Such anachronism, it argues, is also implied in the deliberate referencing of science fiction, as the genre, according to Jean Baudrillard at least, is similarly becoming obsolete in digitally enframed reality.
No matter how closely monitored, the ‘pickling’ process incorporates an element of contingency, a chance occurrence in the working of chemicals that reveals itself during the processing of the film. The paper thus also argues that Magdy’s slide-based works are not without agency, but enact the transgressive character of chance in order to open up the viewing experience to multiple associative projections and possible interpretations. This openness is additionally accentuated in durational sequencing of the slides, equally inconclusive about the narrative connections between the individual still images.
Dr Jelena Stojkovic is an art historian, writer and curator based in London. Jelena completed her PhD at the University of Westminster, she was a Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo, and is an Associate Lecturer in Photography at the London College of Communication and the Camberwell College of Art, University of the Arts London.
slide projection, science-fiction, anachronism, contingency
University of the Arts London
FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS – BEYOND REPRESENTATION AND TOWARDS AFFECT AND BECOMING
In recent sociological studies there has been a move away from viewing images as mere representations of a pre-existing world towards one of seeing them as triggers of affect, emotions and events experienced in the real world. In representational thinking, reality is mediated through representations that can only be understood through language as we have no other, direct, access to reality, and the reading of images as representational texts has overtly focused on externally-encoded ideological messages with underlying power structures. Whilst this remains important in understanding the meaning of images, these discursive practices have been granted too much power as they do not account for what images do and how they are experienced in real life. Images express potentiality and how this is lived out in the present can be understood through affect, or Barthes’ punctum, meaning that images are felt and acted upon. This is not to say, however, that representational thinking and affect are two different ways of understanding images as, in fact, they are entangled, with the former having a strong impact on the latter.
With reference to family photos, representational thinking helps to understand that what may appear as neutral records of happy special events of a family are in fact images that conform to the pictorial and institutional codes of the archetypal family. Family photos depict highly selected happy moments recorded either at home or at leisure with people welcomed in the images, thus ‘construct[ing] the world of the family as a utopia and reinforcing the myth of a cohesive, together, and happy family. The actually lived experience of family itself, including trauma, illness and struggle, is papered over, and the fake representations and exclusion of the lived experience can trigger affect and events that have an intensity which is felt through the body. Representational thinking evades the notion that representations interact with reality and bring certain realities into being, and ignores the human experience and non-discursive practices of affect, emotions and agents in enacting realities and transforming the future. Bodies are not Foucauldian static social constructs but rather Deleuzian agents in their becoming and assemblage, and affect plays a crucial role in this becoming, as Jo Spence and Rosy Martin have clearly demonstrated in their Phototherapy sessions. The visual absence of their daily struggles based on class, gender and institutional power, the punctum of inscribed falsehood, pricked and bruised Spence and Martin and led them to visually deconstruct themselves, turning their selves into processes that were constantly being reworked in order ‘to come to terms with [their] fragmented selves constructed out of the needs…of others’. As Spence said when reinventing her family album, the self is ‘a constant reworking process…I am a process’. Therefore, representation and reality are not two separate entities but are closely entangled in the assemblage of our identities, and the way this relationship can be understood is through affect.
Anita Strasser is an urban photographer currently doing a Master’s in Photography and Urban Cultures in the Sociology department at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She also has a background in Applied Linguistics and works as an Academic English Tutor at the University of the Arts London.
representation, affect, images, family
Cyprus University of Technology
The Photograph as a Visual Embodiment of Experience
Most research concerning vernacular photography focuses on representation (what photographs show), meaning (what photographs mean) and distribution (where and how photographs circulate). The proposed presentation focuses on a fourth, almost invisible, aspect of vernacular photography that is largely understudied: that of the photographic process—the act of taking a photograph and its relationship to experience. To investigate the relationship between photography, reproduction and experience, I conducted a research project that examined how visitors use their photographic cameras, smart phones and tablets in an art museum.
The research project in discussion was executed in 2014 as part of a Smithsonian Institute Fellowship in Museum Practice. The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (in collaboration with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access) was used as a research site. Observation, in-depth interviews with visitors and photo-elicitation were used to examine the relationship between art experience and photography. Emphasis was placed not only on the reported potential uses of museum photography, but also on the participants’ movements, interactions, feelings and thoughts during the photographic process.
The data of the research suggest that the use of photography has an effect on the actual museum experience. Despite the fact that a few participants rejected the use of cameras in art museums as an additional, unnecessary and damaging lens to the museum experience, the majority of participants had positive attitudes regarding museum photography. Most visitors/ photographers admitted that photography could not possibly capture the “essence” of an artwork or an aesthetic experience, but talked instead of using photography for visually capturing an “embodied” experience with a museum object. They saw photography as a way to better engage with the museum environment and visually represent a personal, physical, sensory and mental connection with an artwork, museum object or person.
Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert has published widely on photography and museum studies. She is the editor of Photography and Cyprus (2014), Museums and Visitor Photography (forth. 2015) and Museums and Photography: Displaying Death (forth. 2016). She is currently an assistant professor at the Cyprus University of Technology, the director of its Visual Sociology and Museum Studies Lab and the president of the International Association of Photography and Theory.
museums, visitors, visual embodiment, vernacular
University of Sydney
Why Be a Photographic Image?
By their very name, imaging technologies seem to refer to the production of images. Yet a striking feature of many imaging technologies today is that their output does not need to be in the form of an image. This is certainly the case with many astronomical images (such as those from NASA’s Hubble telescope), law enforcement images and medical images (such as MRIs and fMRIs). The raw data used to create images in these technologies is captured numerically – that is, without using any optical apparatus. We could even say that the only thing ‘optical’ about these images is that, once in existence, they are transmitted as optical signals through optical communication networks.
By default, such technologies offer a choice between various data display formats. Furthermore, the data itself is completely indifferent towards its content or towards the ‘sensory field’ within which it will later appear. An important question then deserves to be asked. Why are images the exclusive output form of imaging technologies? Why not have acoustics, cryptography or simply numerical chains as the output for MRI scans and astronomical ‘observation’ instruments?
Perhaps the beauty of images is, in some cases, an end in itself. After all, the visual spectacle in images of distant galaxies and nebulas is undeniable. And who can resist the urge to ‘see’ an unborn baby in an ultrasound ‘photograph’? But are we biased towards images to the extent that we feel that certain data clusters just cannot be anything else? Clearly visual representations (including not just images but also diagrams, maps, etc.) supply us with large amounts of complex information in ways that are more easily comprehensible to our human processing capabilities than just raw data. Nevertheless, this still does not explain another conundrum – why do such images so often appear as photographic images?
Yanai Toister (BFA Bezalel, MFA CalArts) is an artist, writer and curator. His work has been included in solo and group exhibitions and published in art journals and catalogues. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Sydney (dissertation title: ‘Photography from the Turin Shroud to the Turing Machine’).
Imaging, Representation, Data, Interface
Central Saint Martins
This presentation takes as its site of reference the southern foreshore of the river Thames at Greenwich in order to develop a series of reflections upon the transformative potential of ‘waste’ material artefacts (bone) associated with the site. These artefacts, rather than being framed within a traditional archaeological methodology which reiterates a divided subject/object representational relation, are considered as part of a dynamic of forces and flows constituting a relational assemblage. Such an approach can re-fuse (as in re-ignite or re-generate) the break between animate and inanimate matter, inside and outside and past and present. Materials originating in a past can then be understood not as a repository of secrets to be unearthed, but as material energies finding their way into the present, and participating in a gathering which is also a porous ‘meeting place’. Rather than representational object, the ‘image’ as an assemblage of elements can then be considered as the figurative in Ranciere’s terms, ‘the intertwining of several regimes of expression and the work of several arts and several media’. The figurative here becomes the sum of performative powers as a durational practice of place. This is a question both of aesthetics (the image as temporary holding relation) and ethics, a question of how we are situated with regard to the production of the past, and also immersed in the production of an on-going present.
Susan Trangmar is Reader in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. She is an artist who works with lens, sound and text based media to explore the material and spatial constructions of landscape, site and place which produce particular practices of place and understandings of temporality.
Relational materiality, cultural phenomenology, practice of place
Edinburgh College of Art / University of Edinburgh
NOT TWO: Strategies in the Photographic Exploration of Nonduality
Through an illustrated presentation of aspects of my own practice, this paper looks at various photographic strategies undertaken to explore the notion of Nonduality. These include typology, seriality, composite image juxtaposition and constructed lyrical narrative.
Nonduality is a concept that ‘attempts to describe the reality that there is only oneness arising as everything and that there is no separation’. (1) This simple definition, although helpful in its directness can only hint at the profound implications of Nonduality as it relates to notions of space, time, self and agency.
I am especially intrigued by evolving synergies between traditional Eastern Nondual philosophy and developments in contemporary physics and neuroscience. For example, the latter’s recent discoveries in the area of free will lend increasing substance to the tenets of Nonduality and provide a fascinating platform for debate in a variety of contexts such as philosophy and ethics.
My presentation includes images from a range of projects some of which were undertaken in Japan at a variety of Buddhist temple sites. This work employs strategies such as ‘typology’ and ‘seriality’. I explain why such methodological tools are especially appropriate as means of alluding to non-separation and in undermining the aforementioned dualistic notions of space, time, self and agency.
My paper also includes examples from more recent projects which employ composite image juxtaposition and constructed lyrical narrative, again within a Nondual context.
Overall, my practice functions as part of the growing engagement of contemporary art across all disciplines with Nonduality. In common with like-minded practitioners I seek through my work to undermine apparent dualities and point to the ineffable resonance of a pivotal assertion contained in the ancient Buddhist text, The Heart Sutra: ‘form is emptiness; emptiness is form’.
David Williams is Reader in Photography at Edinburgh College of Art and was Photography Programme Director there from 1991-2014. His work has been extensively exhibited and published and he is the recipient of a number of awards including the BBC 150 Years of Photography Prize.
Nonduality, typology, seriality, self
Wilson Anne Scott
Motion and stillness: a bodily approach to photography
My paper will address both Duration and temporality of the ‘still’ image and Sensorial and bodily experience of photography through a discussion of a recent body of work Fly Rhythm, a series of photographs and video works exhibited in a gallery context.
By acknowledging the inter-relationship between the body and the camera my project seeks to challenge a perceived separation between performance and photography. Fly Rhythm was conceived through a performative somatic process. Through using a custom made camera I was able to negotiate time and space to create a visual drawing of movement and stillness together in photography. The resultant images are discussed as a notation of body movement –of corporeal history enabled through a self imposed discipline of learning to read light.
I constructed a human size camera to observe light making analogue prints and I was inspired to customize a digital camera that enabled long exposures. Fly Rhythm imagery was made by intuiting light’s erratic changes through the landscape on Bruny Island Tasmania and industrial sites in Melbourne. I will discuss these prints in context with the idea that light is a conduit through which past and present fuse together in a bodily act of photographing and processing images.
I will explore durational aspects of photography by discussing light’s relative motion while taking photographs without using the viewfinder or composing images in a traditional way. With the camera at the end of my arm I initiate movement by how I read light– a kind of body signature. My practice enables a new the way of seeing, as I spontaneously move to capture digital pinhole images. By analysing process my paper will consider how the body together with analogue and 21st century digital technology combine visual art, performance and photographic disciplines.
Anne Scott Wilson is working in video and photography with a strong performance background. Her oeuvre is an exploration into memory, motion and imagination. Drawing on anachronistic ballet training she uses her own body as an experimental site. Her practice considers the relationship between death and embodiment, light and motion and the yearning for something more.
Motion, body, stillness, image
Royal College of Art Royal College of Art email@example.com
The Iconography of Disruptive Bodies: Social Media and the Post-human
My artwork is concerned with photographic representations of the female body in popular culture. I examine how photographs discipline the individuals’ relationship to their own body and their place in society. Working on the premise that the idealization of certain bodies has led to a reduced visual language of expression for the body, I explore ways of expanding this iconography using the gestures of disruptive bodies.
As a historical backdrop to this study I will discuss photographs created in la Salpêtrière hospital in the nineteenth-century. During this time the women who best performed the contorted shapes of hysteria were photographed for the iconographie. They became celebrities and, it is suggested, subsequent hysterics unconsciously used the images as blueprints for their own hysterical attacks. According to Charcot, looking was the key to understanding hysterical illness, and he invited the populace to look with him. His lectures were open to the public; writers, artists and actors frequently visited the hospital and the photographs were widely disseminated in the ‘Iconographie Photographique de la Salpêtrière’. Film stars began to imitate the women in the photographs and the gestures of hysteria transformed popular expressions of passion and despair. The hysterical bodies were both confessional and idealized; through their aberrant gestures they reduced the language of the emotions to a short hand of facial expressions and poses.
In contemporary culture our relationships are mediated, and often dominated by online social networks. We present our post-human selves to others in a series of 2-dimensional images, inviting them to gain knowledge solely through the act of looking. In the virtual realm the role of photography could be viewed negatively because it fixes the individual, creating a permanent record of a self that can be judged using the quantifiable system of likes and favourites. But the “selfie” is also creative; it offers unlimited possibilities of performance and self-expression. This paper will ask, is there a space for dissent between the performativity of the “selfie”, the predominance of idealized body types and a perceived reduction in gestural poses?
Dawn Woolley’s practice encompasses photography, video, installation and performance. She is undertaking PhD research in photography at the Royal College of Art. Recent exhibitions have included “”Basically. Forever” Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and solo exhibitions in Hippolyte Photography Gallery, Helsinki, Finland (2013); Vilniaus Fotografijos Galerija, Lithuania (2012) and Ffotogallery in Cardiff (2011).
Hysteria, selfie, photography, performance
Tel Aviv University
Innervation and Reverberation: The Political Performance of Photography
My philosophical reflections on the current role and value of photography will evolve from two photographically-induced performances. The first is a fictional one, depicted in Don Delillo’s 2007 novel Falling Man, in which an obscure performance artist re-enacts in various places the posture captured in Richard Drew’s by-now iconic photograph of a man falling from one of the World Trade Centre towers on September 11, 2001. Delillo’s literary conceit offers, in my view, a poignant perspective on the ontological and epistemological capacity of photography and on the political and ethical potency of spectatorship, deserving a thorough theoretical analysis. To this thought-provoking fictional proposal I will add an actual and recent work of art that both resonates with it and complicates it in intriguing ways: the Israeli choreographer and dancer Arkadi Zaides’ projects Capture Practice (2014), a two-screen video installation, and Archive (2014), a live performance on stage. These are two related works in which Zaides incorporates into his own dance moves the gestures and actions of Israelis caught on camera by Palestinians in the occupied territories.
In my paper I will venture to present a conceptual framework in which the implications of these “photo-performances” can be fully appreciated. Drawing on a wide array of scholarly thinking about the current status of photography, my discussion will mainly be inspired by the works of Walter Benjamin, Susan Buck-Morss and Gilles Deleuze. Both performances, I argue, in their relaying of gestures captured in still photographic images, highlight photography’s vital capacity to render visible, and operable, what Benjamin dubbed the “optical unconscious”, enabling the formation of productive relations to human realities that otherwise might go unnoticed. The relation that these specific performances propose is a somatic one, or, in Buck-Morss’ terminology, a “synaesthetic” one, invoking a political or ethical responsivity in which a pulse of the reality of one human being is pulsated and innervated in the body of another. In using the body to echo a photographed being’s condition and assume their actions, these performances can be seen as a veritable “politicisation of art”.
They can also be seen as vivid examples of a “rhizomatic becoming”, in Deleuze’s terms, which defies representational logic and chronological temporality in favour of an “eternal return” triggered by a photograph – or rather by a photographic event. In fact, by lingering on the stillness of the photograph – especially in Archive, in which Zaides relates to moving images but starts methodologically by freezing some frames and acting upon them – these performances rupture the flow of time and invoke a surface effect, a visual event, which can then be further attended to and embodied. Perhaps this already happens by mere spectatorship, where mirror neurons innervate the viewed acts, making the image reverberate in the spectators’ bodies.
To conclude, by defying the rather restrictive logic of representation and testimony, and by challenging the somewhat alienating notion of mere simulation, these performances invite us to place photography within an ontologically robust and politically fruitful paradigm of pulsation and reverberation.
Dr Ohad Zehavi received his Ph.D. from the School of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. He teaches in the Photography Studies programme at the Art History Department, Tel Aviv University. His main research interests are Deleuze and schizoanalysis, the philosophy of children, and imagery and spectatorship in a post-9/11 era.
Photography, Performance, Falling Man, September 11