Still Searching…

The conditions governing the digital world have led to a radical diversification not only in photography but also in the theory that underpins it and the history that is written about it. Photographic media and forms are incorporated into complex tech technological, capitalist and ideological networks; the experts who are conducting scholarly research into the role of photographic images thus come from very different disciplines. The expansion of the discourse surrounding these images is also reflected in Still Searching…, the blog on photographic theory that was initiated by Fotomuseum Winterthur in 2012 and which subjects all aspects of photography and its role in visual culture to interdisciplinary scrutiny. The bloggers invited to the online format operate at the forefront of research and enhance our awareness of current issues that are relevant to photography.

Blog series: Black Aesthetic Strategy: Images that Move

Rhea Storr | 20.07. – 15.10.2021
Black Aesthetic Strategy: Images that Move

‘When an image speaks, it voices itself to an other, an internal to external relation. Like any voice, the aesthetics of the speaking image give tone and timbre to its language. Aesthetics is the form which gives voice to the content of the image. Images not only speak but move between/against/alongside themselves. The image on the move has agency in the way that it circulates and speaks in relation. An image might have many voices for its differing movements and for each new voice it deploys an aesthetic strategy.

By describing a series of aesthetic strategies, I want to consider how the production of an image influences the way it moves, where aesthetics gives agency over circulation. For good reason, images of Black bodies are often examined at the point of consumption, the point at which an image becomes an object. What I will develop instead is an argument for the centrality and manipulation of form at the point of production.

The aesthetic strategies which will be proposed here – redaction, affect, dislocation, construction and errantry – are by no means exhaustive or prescriptive. They are intended as a guide for making, a means for moving which resists the voicing of images on behalf of Black bodies by treating the Black body like a ventriloquist’s dummy… A strategic approach is particularly important to the representation of Black culture, as the voicing of Black bodies is mired in photographic traditions which seek control or to render them invisible. The aesthetic strategies proposed here offer a lexicon to voice images by Black voices with agency in their representation. Not only are they useful for the Black experimental cinema which will be considered in the coming weeks but can be employed by others with a desire to move similarly; image-makers in diaspora, in minority, under oppression or working counter culturally, etc.

And so we move.


Tuesday, 20.07.2021
<div>Christina Sharpe’s <em>In the Wake</em> describes redaction as ‘seeing and reading otherwise; toward reading and seeing something in excess of what is caught in the frame’. Sharpe describes Black redaction as ‘wake work’ caught in the aftermath of the slave ship, intrinsic to the histories of transatlantic chattel slavery. The wake is an ode to Black life in the face of Black death. </div><div><br><br></div>


Wednesday, 04.08.2021
<div>Edouard Glissant proposes errantry as a non-monolithic formation of identity. Errantry is produced through an engagement with the other on unmeasurable terms. It is a form of wandering which is chosen rather than enforced, a privilege rather than an exile. Errantry cements relation, rather than self-determination or nationalism. </div><div><br><br></div>

Dislocation / Relocation

Tuesday, 31.08.2021
<div>Dislocation/relocation describes diasporic movement. We can understand Black diaspora as a dispersal of peoples brought about by a myriad of factors, not least transatlantic slavery and its subsequent reverberations. In short, the enslavement of Black people is responsible for many Black diaspora movements between Europe, Africa and the Americas. </div>


Wednesday, 22.09.2021
<div>Affect as a Black Aesthetic Strategy can be a way of inducing movement in others. A product of two bodies in relation, visual and sonic material has the power to evoke emotions within us through the cinematic screen. Theorists such as Sianne Ngai have identified the inadequacies of affect theory when applied to racialised bodies. When affect theory is applied to images of Black life, it can easily become charged by a power dynamic predicated on hypervisibility without power, a simultaneous foregrounding and total dismissal of Black life.</div>


Wednesday, 13.10.2021
<div>Construction is not a precise term for a Black Aesthetic Strategy. As I wish to define it here, it simply refers to the way that an image is made. It is not to be confused with constructivism as philosophical theory (although construction as I am defining it, does similarly concern the way that we gather and represent knowledge).</div>