Still Searching…

Von 2012 bis 2023 beschäftigte sich der Diskurs-Blog des Fotomuseum Winterthur interdisziplinär mit allen Aspekten der Fotografie und ihrer Rolle in der visuellen Kultur. Die insgesamt fast 50 eingeladenen Blogger_innen von Still Searching…  diskutierten fotografische Medien und Formen als Bestandteil komplexer technologischer, kapitalistischer und ideologischer Netzwerke und verhandelten aktuellste und relevante Fragestellungen rund um die Fotografie.

Blog series: Institutions and the Production of ‘Photographs’

Elizabeth Edwards | 15.09. – 31.10.2016
Institutions and the Production of ‘Photographs’

In her blog series, visual and historical anthropologist Elizabeth Edwards will scrutinize the processes and mechanisms of institutional collecting. Why and how are photographs acquired by institutions and what are the implications for the photographs that get curated? And what happens when non-collections are brought into the remit of ‘history of photography’? Edwards will discuss assumptions, categories of description and hierarchies of values that shape the management of collections and look at how the new historiography of photography is being articulated in museums and galleries. Finally, she will consider the impact of digital technologies on the way in which photographs are constituted as both historical objects and ‘collections’. What are the effects on institutional assumptions and practices, and what does this do to a history of photography and its articulation in public space? 

Patterns of Collecting, Institutional Mind-Sets and the Problem of Hierarchies

Donnerstag, 15.09.2016
<p>A few years ago I was talking to a curator of social history in a major British public museum service which I knew held substantial collections of photographs of the local region going back to the 1850s. I asked him how he thought about these photographs in his care, and how they related to the museum’s ethos and activities. To this he responded “well I don’t really – they are just there”. I have been thinking about the ‘just there’ quality of photographic collections ever since. How is it that a body of material, maybe 35,000 glass plates, of substantial importance in regional history can be ‘just there’? How are the tensions of specialness and ubiquity negotiated through institutional practices?</p>

The Presence of Non-Collections and the Challenge of Photographic Ecosystems

Freitag, 23.09.2016
<p>I recently attended a leaving party for a museum photographer of some 30 years service. The usual orations were accompanied by a digital slide show of his work over those last 30 years during which he had excelled in a range of museum demands. He made bundles of sticks look exciting and provided photographs of masks, chests or totem of such technical precision and virtuosic lighting that First Nations carvers in Canada could reconstitute the haptics of their traditional carving practices – retracing chisel marks. It was also a slide show of how a museum sees itself and how it performs its objects. Yet these photographs were, until that moment, invisible as a photographic practice, and above all, they are not understood as part of the photograph collection at that institution. They are non-collections, ‘just there’, everywhere and nowhere.</p>

More on Categories

Montag, 03.10.2016
<p>This week I want to pick up on the question of categories which has resonated through my last two posts on institutions, hierarchies and non-collections. The extent to which the categories of disciplinary landscapes and languages shape research was brought home to me forcibly when last year I contributed to an ‘at the print’ class for art history students. We were in Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, a major and politically savvy anthropology collection. We pulled from the collection Julia Margaret Cameron’s famous portrait of Charles Darwin. Despite having ‘done’ a Cameron class some weeks before, the students seemed unable to recognise it in any way.</p>

Exhibiting the New Historiographies

Donnerstag, 13.10.2016
<p>Which history of photography is told in museums? We are familiar with the usual parade of nineteenth-century photography such as Linnaeus Tripe, Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron, and then that of the great masters of the modernist canon who repeatedly adorn our gallery walls in some shape or other. These of course have their interest and their merits and such exhibitions have done much to raise the public sense that ‘photography is important.’ But what of the social history of photography, the photography that worked within people’s lives – those millions of humble and unremarkable photographs which mattered to people and which constitute the majority of photographs?</p>

The Spectre of the Digital

Donnerstag, 20.10.2016
<p>I finished my last post thinking about shifting notions of ‘importance’ and ‘relevance’. This has, in part, been driven by digital technologies and the financial, socio-political and ethical pressures on institutions to give access to their collections, and in ways that connect to contemporary users. Likewise the massive and ever-increasing swirl of images in circulation is, of course, digitally-based, raising very real questions about the very nature of ‘photography’.</p>
Blog series: Photography versus Contemporary Art

Ekaterina Degot | 01.11. – 15.12.2014
Photography versus Contemporary Art

Until December 15 the curator, writer and professor Ekaterina Degot will explore some of the paradoxes inherent to the complex relations between photography and so-called contemporary art.

Photography versus Contemporary Art: What’s Next?

Dienstag, 16.12.2014
<p>We have reviewed several aspects of the highly competitive—even love/hate—relationship between contemporary art and photography. Is there anything left to say? Perhaps something about the future of both. They will hardly be able to avoid each other.</p>
Blog series: Photographic Relationality

George Baker | 01.06. – 15.07.2013
Photographic Relationality

George Baker will write around the idea of thinking or theorizing “photographic relationality.” We think of photography, so often, in terms of what Rosalind Krauss called a “theory of gaps”: the photograph as an operation of visual isolation, framing, cropping, freezing an object as a motionless specimen. But the vaunted “doubling” in which photography has been involved is also the creation of a relationship; the photograph’s “indexical” tie to the world a bond or affective tie more than a simple technical effect, and one that still needs further thought and description. Touching upon specific photographs and photographers, pushing forward from the implications of select contemporary artistic practices engaged with photography, I want to think about the relational status and potential of photography over its longer history. I want to write a set of speculative entries on the photograph as an image-couple more than the photograph as image-double – theorizing photographic linkage over technological reproducibility as the central promise of photography today. A set of entries imagining an affective theory of photography, building upon thoughts on photography and love from Roland Barthes to Eduardo Cadava.

The Relational Field of Photography

Freitag, 31.05.2013
<div>At the end of last summer, during one of my trips from Los Angeles to New York, I was lucky enough to be able to visit the artist Zoe Leonard’s first exhibition at the gallery Murray Guy.<br><br><br></div>

The Philosophers

Dienstag, 11.06.2013
<div><em>And I ask: How did the beauty of that hair,</em><br><em>those eyes, beguile our forebears?</em><br><em>How did that mouth kiss, to which desire</em><br><em>curls up senseless as smoke without fire?<br></em><br></div><div><br></div>
Blog series: Exceptional Position of Photography within the (Art) World

Walead Beshty | 15.04. – 31.05.2012
Exceptional Position of Photography within the (Art) World

Walead Beshty, the internationally known photographer, professor and writer who lives and works in Los Angeles, will be blogging for us until the end of May 2012. Beshty’s concern is the exceptional position of photography within the (art) world today. Why is it “that a medium that was born less than two hundred years ago, in the midst of the industrial revolution, would be the primary contemporary vehicle of the western pictorial tradition?” In his blog series Beshty will “sketch out this theoretical problem, and reexamine the assumptions associated with that loose collection of practices and theories that we call the photographic, and attempt to propose broader, and perhaps more dynamic tools through which to understand it. This process seems best begun with a discussion of the functional construction of the category of photography.”

Toward a Museum of Convention

Samstag, 19.05.2012
<p>Last week’s post concerned itself with the academy as a mode of distribution for aesthetic discourse and how the inclusion of art within higher education has the potential to shift the understanding of intellectual research and debate, specifically by forcing intellectual discourse to come to terms with its own monetization. Before going further, I think I should address what I mean by the use of the phrase “aesthetic discourse.” I mean not only that which is written or spoken about aesthetics (this is really secondary, and significant only when it shifts the conditions of aesthetic production). But primarily I mean communications or debates that happen through aesthetics.</p>