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.
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: The Case of the Lecture Performance
Markus Hartmann | 15.09. – 31.10.2014
Past, Present and Future of the Photo Book
Until October 31 Markus Hartmann, the former publishing director of Hatje Cantz will be thinking about the past, present and future of the photo book:
“Making and selling books was (and still is) a commercial venture, similar to the gallery business. I mention this because a lot of people from the inner circles of the art world do not have the same understanding and see their work or other works and exhibitions from a more idealistic point of view. I was accustomed to thinking about money and budgets when publishing books, and seldom had the opportunity to make books without such constraints. This is one reason why my contributions to this blog will focus more on the business side of making photo books than contributions from historians, researchers, curators, etc.”
What Works in the Photo Book World Today and What no Longer Works?
Distribution and Money, the Frankfurt Book Fair and the PhotoBookMuseum, Cologne
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
Marvin Heiferman | 01.11. – 15.12.2013
In his blog series, Marvin Heiferman will take a broad look at the medium as it is changing and being redefined, and consider the issues in and around the medium that are provocative. Rather than understanding photography as a medium in crisis, as some people seem so eager to suggest, Heiferman sees photography in the midst of being re-imagined – this is will be his starting point to look at and talk about over the course of his blogging period. He will use news reports and stories about topical images, events, and issues in visual culture as the basis for taking a weekly look at how photography and our relationship to it are changing. He will link to stories, write about the issues that they raise, and invite readers to take an active role in the discussion.
Photography, She Said, Makes Me Nervous
Claire Bishop | 15.09. – 31.10.2013
Claire Bishop is blogging about ‘modernist revisitations’ – or, in her own words: “Sometimes it feels as if every art magazine I open, and every exhibition I visit, features at least one artist whose work earnestly addresses ‘failed utopias’, who is fascinated by ‘Modernist movements and collectives’, who is committed to ‘the re-enactment of historic high Modernist principles’, or who is drawn to ‘forgotten Modernist constructions that have crumbled over time’. Why this incessant retrospectivity? Are these revisitations in any way political, a response to the limitations of postmodern eclecticism? Or should they be viewed more critically, as an avoidance of contemporary politics by escaping into nostalgia celebration of the past? My blog hopes to raise some questions about the ubiquitous genre of modernist utopias in contemporary art.”
Kelley Wilder | 01.11. – 15.12.2012
Photography and Science
Kelley Wilder will blog on the topic of photography and science:
“What I hope to do over the course of this blog is to turn the conversation away from the art world and toward an area where photographic practices abound. The rich and intertwined histories of photography and science give us access to the voices and opinions of photographic insiders who have been written of as outsiders. The remainder of this blog will continue to look at the confluences and interdependences of photography and science in order to shed light on what some of these shifts might mean for studying and writing about photography.”
Photographic Practice and 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.”
"Form is henceforth divorced from matter."
Photography and Authorship
Hilde Van Gelder | 01.06. – 14.07.2012
What Can Photography Do?
In her blog series What Can Photography Do, the current blogger Hilde van Gelder will examine art photography’s mobilizing potential in contemporary reality. She will investigate why artists use photographs in order to engage in critical debates about urgent political, economic and ecological issues for today’s society. On a more proactive level, the blog series wants to contribute to understanding how photography as art ― including the moving image ― performs as a constructive actor to rethink and reinvent human solidarity. Several concrete examples of photographic art works are used in order to provide a theoretical framework. The various consequences that artistic choices entail for the world views encapsulated within the proposed images, are carefully scrutinized. The blog series thus aims to raise collective discussion about the profound insights that photographs offer for both visualizing and imagining a renewed understanding of the concept of humanity. As such, this blog series is actively committed to thinking the multiple humanities of the future.
What Has Photography Done?
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.”