Still Searching…

From 2012 to 2023, the discursive blog format of Fotomuseum Winterthur subjected all aspects of photography and its role in visual culture to interdisciplinary scrutiny. The approximately 50 bloggers that contributed to Still Searching… discussed photographic media and forms within their complex technological, capitalist and ideological networks and negotiated some of the most pressing and relevant questions surrounding photography.

Blog series: Processing

Sean Cubitt | 05.03.2017 – 28.02.2024
Processing

The photographic image introduced a radical new proposition about representation. Drawing, painting and printmaking required prolonged contemplation of subjects. The long exposures of early photography seemed to parallel that durational encounter. But the appearance of the snapshot changed that. The photogram was an isolated moment singled out that provided a new aesthetic and a new ethical quandary about the instant seized abruptly from the flow of time. The moving image may be seen as an attempt to heal this trauma in the flux of time, but one that created new modes of temporal alienation. Digital imaging, still and moving, alters the conditions of the photogram, bringing it closer to the processing of scientific instruments. In his blog series, thinking ahead of a proposed new avenue of research into the aesthetic politics of truth, Sean Cubitt draws on thinkers from Flusser to Badiou to consider the changing nature and function of time from the decisive moment to data visualisation.

The Image Withheld

Wednesday, 15.02.2017
<p>All that distinguishes a photo as image and a photo as component of the mass image is the simple act of attention. Among all the billion images uploaded, stashed or discarded, only a tiny few secure even a few moments of active contemplation.</p>
Blog series: Images without Viewers

Jodi Dean | 05.01. – 29.02.2016
Images without Viewers

2016 kicks off with a new blog series by political theorist Jodi Dean, “Images without viewers“. Until the end of February, Dean will reflect on the repetition and circulation of images in communicative capitalism. In today’s digitally networked communication practices, photographs and images are incorporated and blended together with speech and writing, a process designated by Dean as “secondary visuality” (akin to Walter Ong’s “secondary orality”). How do mass personalized media involve “secondary visuality,” and what are the political repercussions? What does it mean when images are less for view than they are for circulation?

Images without Viewers: Emoji

Monday, 18.01.2016
<p>A smiley face streaming tears of joy was the <a href="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/11/word-of-the-year-2015-emoji/">Oxford Dictionaries’ 2015 word of the year</a>. That an emoji is not a word didn’t matter. Or, better, it is what actually did matter. “Face with tears of joy” was chosen to mark the fact that images are taking the place of linguistic expression of feelings and ideas. They are blending into, merging with, and displacing words and sentences in digitized personal communication. Visuals accompany and absorb text just as physical gestures augment oral communication. Multiple, repeatable, and generic images are less “of” than they are “for”– for circulation in the rich media networks of communicative capitalism.</p>

Images without Viewers: Selfie Communism

Monday, 01.02.2016
<p>Selfies are a communist form of expression.</p><p>The critical reflex is to dismiss selfies as yet another indication of a pervasive culture of narcissism. I disagree. The narcissism critique approaches the selfie as if it were analyzing a single photograph. It views the person in that photograph as the photograph’s subject. Selfies, though, should be understood as a common form, a form that, insofar as it is inseparable from the practice of sharing selfies, has a collective subject. The subject is the many participating in the common practice, the many imitating each other. The figure in the photo is incidental.</p>

Images without Viewers: Imitation, Repetition, Circulation

Wednesday, 10.02.2016
<p>My posts have been exploring secondary visuality as a key attribute of communicative capitalism. Secondary visuality names the primacy of the image in technologically mediated mass personal communication. Rather than the privilege of top-down communication (broadcast media, advertising) or a means of expression confined to artists and professionals, visual communication is part of everyday communication in digital networks.</p>

Images in Common

Tuesday, 23.02.2016
<p>In communicative capitalism, we communicate with words and images – what I’ve been referring to as “secondary visuality.” Communicative utterances that might have once been speech acts – like talking on the phone or sending a letter to the editor – now mix words and images: a text with emojis, an animated gif inserted into a comment thread, a meme. New kinds of visual conversations make stories out of photos and short videos (Snapchat). As interactions that flow across our screens, multiple images envelop us in a montage of humor, horror, the mundane, and the bizarre. Words and images are equivalent. One does not replace or subordinate the other. They intermix, mash, and mingle such that neither alone can be said to be the repository of truth.</p>
Blog series: Ideas about the Contemporary Role of Photography within Digital Culture and Artistic Practice

Melanie Bühler | 16.03. – 30.04.2015
Ideas about the Contemporary Role of Photography within Digital Culture and Artistic Practice

From mid-March till the end of April, Melanie Bühler’s blog series will address a number of ideas about the contemporary role of photography within digital culture and artistic practice. She will also examine the role of digital photography within the context of photography as both an artistic medium and a specialized discipline and explore how networked photographic practices are reflected in the work of contemporary artists.

What I Talk about When I Talk about Photography

Monday, 30.03.2015
<div>If one thinks about photography in medium-specific terms, digitization actually hasn’t introduced any significant challenges to the essence of the photographic moment. Cameras and iPhones that produce digital photographs still contain optical lenses that record light from which an image is generated.<br><br></div>

Online Image Behavior, Where Photographs Live Today

Wednesday, 08.04.2015
<div>Whereas the relation between reality and representation was a key concern of classical photography, now, as photography has become digital, the focus has shifted from this single relation to a multiplicity of relations that extend from a photograph. Value is no longer primarily derived from the special relation between the object in front of the lens and the way it is depicted in the photograph, but it is generated by the multiplicities of image visualizations and variations branching off from the initial moment of capture.<br><br></div>

Remnants of the Index: Hanging on to Photographic Values – The Selfie

Monday, 20.04.2015
<p>My last two blog posts, entitled Remnants of the Index: Hanging on to Photographic Values, will each focus on the legacy and the importance of iconic photographic values. The first does so through a discussion of the selfie, while the second considers the installation shot.</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?

Tuesday, 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: Marvin Heiferman

Marvin Heiferman | 01.11. – 15.12.2013
Marvin Heiferman

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. 

Here's Looking at Me

Wednesday, 13.11.2013
<div>In a defining moment of Nan Goldin’s 1980s slideshow, <em>The Ballad of Sexual Dependency</em>, the lyrics to the Velvet Underground’s classic 1967 song—<em>I’ll be your mirror/Reflect what you are, in case you don't know…'Cause I see you</em>—are heard as slides of women looking at their reflections in mirrors are projected, one after another, every four seconds. Mirrors, a much-used device in Goldin’s <em>magnum opus</em>, serve as constant reminders of our attempts to see ourselves clearly in reflective surfaces, through the eyes of others and, of course, through photography.<br><br></div>
Blog series: What Remains of the Photographic beyond Photography

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.”

The Opacity of Photography

Thursday, 21.03.2013
<div>One of my students recently declared she believed there was nothing to learn from Flusser’s writings on photography. For her, digital technology expanded the possibilities of photography well beyond what Flusser described as the pre-defined program contained within the camera apparatus. The same went for the idea of the impenetrability of the “black box,” which seemed ludicrous in today’s context of widely shared technical astuteness and the infinite possibilities offered by photo-editing software.<br><br></div>