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 – 29.05.2024
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: Institutions and the Production of ‘Photographs’

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? 

More on Categories

Monday, 03.10.2016
<p>This week I want to pick up on the question of categories which has resonated through my last two posts on institutions, hierarchies and non-collections. The extent to which the categories of disciplinary landscapes and languages shape research was brought home to me forcibly when last year I contributed to an ‘at the print’ class for art history students. We were in Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, a major and politically savvy anthropology collection. We pulled from the collection Julia Margaret Cameron’s famous portrait of Charles Darwin. Despite having ‘done’ a Cameron class some weeks before, the students seemed unable to recognise it in any way.</p>

The Spectre of the Digital

Thursday, 20.10.2016
<p>I finished my last post thinking about shifting notions of ‘importance’ and ‘relevance’. This has, in part, been driven by digital technologies and the financial, socio-political and ethical pressures on institutions to give access to their collections, and in ways that connect to contemporary users. Likewise the massive and ever-increasing swirl of images in circulation is, of course, digitally-based, raising very real questions about the very nature of ‘photography’.</p>
Blog series: The Status of the Image in Digital Culture

Ingrid Hoelzl, Rémi Marie | 01.03. – 30.04.2016
The Status of the Image in Digital Culture

The current blog series are co-written by image theorists Ingrid Hoelzl and Rémi Marie. Until the end of April, they will reflect on the status of the image in digital culture. They will examine the shift from the humanist to the posthumanist programme of the image, in line with the shift from the geometric paradigm of the image (based on the linear perspective) to the algorithmic paradigm (introduced with digitalization). Hoelzl and Marie will discuss the central idea of their book Softimage (2015), the image as a software, and reflect on the status of the image in the age of autonomous machines – the postimage.

On the Invisible (Image and Algorithm)

Friday, 18.03.2016
<p>First we want to specify a point concerning the last sentence of our <a href="http://www.fotomuseum.ch/en/explore/still-searching/articles/27021_image_and_programme">first post</a>. In his “Postscript on the Societies of Control”, published in French in 1990 (that is, a few years before the launch of the first public web browser), Deleuze opposes the old disciplinary societies as analyzed by Foucault to the present societies of control. He writes: </p>

Softimage and Hardimage

Monday, 04.04.2016
<p>PS to our previous blog, <a href="http://www.fotomuseum.ch/en/explore/still-searching/articles/27022_on_the_invisible_image_and_algorithm" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“On the Invisible (Image and Algorithm)”</a>.  As a friend suggested, we should have imagined Paglen’s photo of a secret military base in the so-called top-secret lab run by Sergey Brin “in an undisclosed Bay Area location”: here is the place for thinking about secrecy. In fact, Google seems intentionally to be creating an atmosphere of mystery around “a pair of otherwise ordinary two-story red-brick buildings about a half-mile from Google’s main campus” <span class="frzfn fn"><span class="marker">1</span><span class="text">Brad Stone, “Inside Google’s Secret Lab, Google X’s Silicon Valley Nerd Heaven – America’s Last Great Corporate Research Lab”, <em>Bloomberg.com/news</em>, 29 May 2013, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-05-22/inside-googles-secret-lab">http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-05-22/inside-googles-secret-lab</a></span></span>. It is impossible to find much information on Google (sic!) apart from two journal articles. In the one published in <em>The New York Times</em> in 2011 we can read: “It’s a place where your refrigerator could be connected to the Internet, so it could order groceries when they ran low. Your dinner plate could post to a social network what you’re eating. Your robot could go to the office while you stay home in your pajamas. And you could, perhaps, take an elevator to outer space.” <span class="frzfn"><span class="marker">2</span><span class="text">Claire Cain Miller and Nick Biltonnov, “Google’s Lab of Wildest Dreams”, <em>The New York Times</em>, 13 November 2011.</span></span></p>
Blog series: Is Photography Over?

Trevor Paglen | 01.03. – 15.04.2014
Is Photography Over?

Starting on March 1, 2014, the American artist, Trevor Paglen, will write about the world of “seeing machines” – from iPhones to facial recognition algorithms to automated military targeting systems – and what they mean in terms of 21st century photography.

Scripts

Monday, 24.03.2014
<div>In the last post, I proposed that 21st Century “photography” has come to encompass so many different kinds of technologies, imaging apparatuses, and practices that the kinds of things we easily recognize as photography (cameras, film, prints, etc.) now actually constitute an exception to the rule. I proposed a much broader definition – <em>seeing machines</em>. <br><br></div>