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.
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?
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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.”
George Baker | 01.06. – 15.07.2013
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.
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.”