Nicht nur die Fotografie, sondern auch ihre Theorie und Geschichtsschreibung erfahren unter digitalen Bedingungen eine radikale Erweiterung. Fotografische Medien und Formen sind in komplexe technologische, kapitalistische und ideologische Netzwerke eingebunden; Expert_innen, die die Rolle fotografischer Bilder wissenschaftlich untersuchen, kommen entsprechend aus ganz unterschiedlichen Disziplinen. Die Erweiterung des Diskurses um fotografische Bilder bildet sich auch auf dem Theorie-Blog Still Searching… des Fotomuseum Winterthur ab, der sich seit 2012 interdisziplinär mit allen Aspekten der Fotografie und ihrer Rolle in der visuellen Kultur beschäftigt. Eingeladene Blogger_innen des Online- Formats bewegen sich an vorderster Front der Forschung und schärfen unseren Blick für die aktuellen und relevanten Fragestellungen rund um die Fotografie.
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
The Presence of Non-Collections and the Challenge of Photographic Ecosystems
David Cunningham | 15.05. – 14.09.2016
Photography and the Language of Things
Until the end of June, David Cunningham will reflect on some current debates around photography and what Hito Steyerl terms “the language of things in the realm of the documentary form”. The blog will examine what seems in such debates a widespread desire to withdraw from representation altogether, whereby the image becomes (to borrow Steyerl’s own citation of Benjamin) “without expression”, not a representation of reality but “a fragment of the real world”, a “thing just like any other”. Engaging with the history of a certain avant-garde that lies behind this, the blog will then pose some questions concerning the political as well as ‘aesthetic’ implications of such a thought of the photographic image.
The Return of the Real (Again)
Fahim Amir | 16.06. – 31.07.2015
From Cows in French Banlieues to Pigeons in Popular Culture
From June 16 until the end of July, Fahim Amir will write about the photographic depiction of unruly animals in the context of urban panic. He will engage with an exploration of animal spirits in the films La Haine and Ghost Dog: from cows in French banlieues to pigeons in popular culture.
Here are Lions
Anne McCauley | 01.02. – 15.03.2015
Politics and Artistic Expression: Paul Strand
Until March 15, Professor Anne McCauley will discuss the difficulty of reconciling politics and artistic expression, with a particular emphasis on the career of Paul Strand.
Reading Strand’s New York Photographs: City Hall Park
Jorge Ribalta | 01.06. – 15.07.2014
Centrist Liberalism Triumphant: Postwar Humanist Reframing of Documentary
Jorge Ribalta’s blog series draws inspiration from the title of the fourth volume of Immanuel Wallerstein’s landmark series on the modern world-system. Rather than a theoretical or philosophical discussion on the nature of documentary photography, the blog series proposes a historical understanding of documentary practices in photography, and specifically during the Cold War. Ribalta’s point is that the rise of documentary rhetoric and discourses in the prewar era reflected the need to provide a visual tool for the representation of the working class and its new agency in mass democracy. But histories of photographic modernism, mostly a postwar construction largely determined by Newhall’s contribution, offered specific “liberal” versions of the emergence of the documentary discourse that had long-lasting effects. For example, the hegemony of the FSA documentary overshadowed the rest of the 1930s documentary experiences, particularly that of the Worker Photography Movement. In the 1950s, the large shadow of the monumental The Family of Man invisibilized or re-signified other documentary experiments, like Italian Neorealism or Paul Strand’s photo book projects, just to mention two examples. In both cases, prewar and postwar, centrist liberalism is triumphant. In other words, liberal humanism seemed to be an unsurpassable discursive and ideological horizon in postwar photographic avant-gardes and its historical narratives. The blog series brings to discussion some ideas and intuitions dealing with the humanist condition of postwar documentary photography and its problems.
Heart of Darkness
Abigail Solomon-Godeau | 16.04. – 31.05.2014
Starting on April 15, 2014, the American art critic and professor emerita Abigail Solomon-Godea, will reflect on a selection of the exhibitions (i.e., the particular) viewed in the past couple of weeks and try to distill, or extract, something that might count as some valid generalities about photographic practice and photographic discourse in their current manifestations.
Boundary Problems: Addressing History in the Image
A Tale of Two Mapplethorpes
Sophie Berrebi | 01.03. – 14.04.2013
What Remains of the Photographic beyond Photography
Sophie Berrebi will be looking for what remains of the photographic beyond photography. Or in her own words: „This is what I would like to explore in the next few weeks: What remains when photography transforms itself? How does technological modification trigger ontological change – if at all – and how does this translate into the way we apprehend pictures as producers, sitters, and viewers? In short, what interests me is how photography has taught us to look and what remains of the photographic beyond photography.“
Geoffrey Batchen | 15.09. – 31.10.2012
Photography and Dissemination
Photo thinker Geoffrey Batchen will write about photography and dissemination:
„The theme of my contribution to Still Searching is inspired by Walter Benjamin’s famous essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility’ (1935-36). Or, rather, it is inspired by the striking absence of discussions of reproduction and its effects in the literature about photography since this essay first appeared. So I guess I am searching, in the first instance, for the reasons for this absence, given that Benjamin’s essay has been made compulsory reading for a generation of students and is one of the most cited in serious texts about the photographic experience. But I am also interested in beginning to explore the ramifications of photography’s relationship to reproducibility for our understanding of this medium’s history. How has reproducibility manifested itself in photographic practice and experience? What have been the effects of these manifestations? What kind of history would have to be written to encompass these questions? The invention of this history—of a mode of representation capable of doing justice to these questions–is ultimately what I am ‘still searching’ for.“