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.
Tanya Sheehan | 06.03. – 30.04.2017
Photography and Migration
The photographic medium has played an important role in the movement of people, objects, identities, and ideas across time and space, especially in the human crossing of geographical and cultural borders. Scholars have shown how cameras documented, enabled, or controlled such forced or voluntary movements, while photographers have attempted to put a face on immigration around the world, making visible its associations with transition, displacement, hardship, and opportunity. In this blog series, Tanya Sheehan reflects on the relationship between photography and migration in the twenty-first century by considering photographs in the global migration crisis as well as within her own local, community interventions. Framing her discussion are keywords in photography and migration studies: diaspora, refugee, (im)mobility, and border.
Sean Cubitt | 05.03.2017 – 22.09.2023
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.
Image + After I: Photography as Print and as Scientific Instrument
T.J. Demos | 01.05. – 15.06.2015
From the beginning of May until June 15, T.J. Demos (professor in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture, and director of the Center for Creative Ecologies, at the University of California, Santa Cruz) is planning to engage with the relation between photography and ecology, specifically thinking about the so-called anthropocene and its limits and problems, and how these are negotiated and positioned photographically.
Against the Anthropocene
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.