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2. Like Totally

Let’s take a step back here from the conceptually thrilling if psychologically chilling conclusion of the my last post that stated that the POTUS-Twitter cyborg was at once AI, a programmed image and a programmable image. Let me add that this sci-fi sounding conclusion is not my “belief,” it is derived from where the concepts lead. more

Published: 17.05.2017
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1. The Camera as Vast Automaton

As the process of photography becomes generalized, and blends with social, financial, semiotic, political, ontological, computational functions and more, our understanding of photography shifts. Is photography a medium or is it now “media?” more

Published: 05.05.2017
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From the series
The Programmable Image
01.05.–30.06.2017

Photography, the writing with light, has had at least as profound an impact on planetary life as linear writing. Arguably, photography creates a crisis for linear writing and its affordances including linear thinking and linear time. Today the photographic image has become inseparable from politics, semiotics, sociality, finance, the security state, and computation. Indeed actually existing planetary life presupposes photography, and one could say that globality consists of the complex interactivity that constitutes photography. Recently I have proposed the notion of the programmable image as a way of rethinking the geo-political relation between photography, computation, sociality, and political economy. Over the coming weeks I will endeavor to further develop and test this concept.

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5. Border

An edge, boundary, or line of demarcation. Few concepts feel as critical to the contemporary discourse on migration as border, for every migrating subject must navigate a physical, political, or conceptual divide. Especially thick structures govern my own country’s national borders, whose markings, surveillance, and protection are the subjects of current debate. Soon they may be fortified at high costs, as US President Donald Trump has issued executive orders proposing the construction of a new border wall between the US and Mexico. more

Published: 20.04.2017
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4. (Im)mobility

Mobility implies the ability – some say the essential human right – to move freely. But the global migration crisis reminds the world that not every subject can exercise that freedom due to their race, gender, sexuality, class, political persuasions, or national identity. Hence certain citizens of a country enter it with minimal restriction, while others and non-citizens are impeded or halted altogether. In the United States, press coverage of restrictions on mobility has increased in the wake of the executive orders in 2017 targeting people from certain predominantly Muslim countries. more

Published: 10.04.2017
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3. Diaspora

To speak of diaspora is to speak of a dispersion or scattering of people. It assumes forced or voluntary movement from a homeland – a geographical or cultural point of origin. It further assumes that people around the world who claim a common origin may share other points of similarity, such as a race, language, or set of beliefs. But as cultural theorist Stuart Hall has written of the black diaspora, diasporic communities are by no means homogenous entities. Rather, they are continuously taking shape through myriad migrations, political conditions, and local forces. more

Published: 27.03.2017
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2. Refugee

The first keyword of this series – refugee – pervades the global discourse on migration, and yet its meaning is not always understood. So let us begin with a definition. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which supports displaced people: A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. more

Published: 15.03.2017
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1. Photography and Migration: Keywords

To consume international news today is to experience one facet of photography’s relationship to human migration. Daily we confront photographs of overcrowded boats and trains; life preservers and backpacks, with or without their human users; fences, tents, and other spaces of containment or restriction; outstretched feet and hands; young children in the arms of parents or strangers; anguished, angry, vacant faces; and countless bodies arranged in lines, standing still or moving forward. more

Published: 06.03.2017
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06.03.–30.04.2017

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.

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