Tag, film
4. From the Kino-Eye to the Postimage

In this last post, we want to explore the relation between vision, image and machine. With film, or already with photography, a new age has started: that of machine vision, of machines that see (for us). The logical consequence is that at some point, these machines will no longer need us to function (we’ve already come a long way from hand-cranked cameras to webcams) or to look at their images (think of automated CCTV surveillance or assembly robots). They may still see for us, but will do so without our involvement, as with self-driving cars for instance. What is at stake then in the age of machine vision is not only the status and concept of the image (what does “seeing” mean for a robot equipped with various sensors, among them visual ones?), it is also the status and concept of the human as the producer and consumer of images. more

Published: 26.04.2016
0 comments
...
5. Godfeathers and Ghetto Doves

In my previous blog post, it was a pigeon fancier that exonerated the innocent ex-convict Leon Tate, and a bite that exposed the wannabe music producer Malik “King” Harris as the wanted sexual predator who used the New York rooftops as his hunting grounds. The narrative dreamwork of this episode of Law & Order: SVU shows an even deeper bite mark of reality if we follow the zootropes at play even further – they lead to another “Malik”: Malik Abdul Aziz, the legendary box champion and pigeon fancier better known as Mike Tyson. Tyson, a former undisputed heavyweight world champion, was disqualified in 1997 for biting his opponent Evander Holyfield on both ears. Five years before that, Tyson was sentenced for the rape of Desiree Washington in one of the most publicized U.S. court cases of the 1980s and 1990s. 1 more

Published: 04.08.2015
0 comments
2. Towards a Theory of the Zoopolitical Unconscious

There are utopian spaces knitted into the fabric of the seemingly pessimistic film La Haine.1 One famous scene in La Haine condenses this “fleeting utopia”2 more then any other moment in the film: Hubert packages and smokes weed in his bedroom, listening to “That Loving Feeling,” sung by Isaac Hayes, and looks outside the window of his “rabbit hutch” (cage à lapins – as the identical flats of the cité are called). His gaze falls onto the inhabitants of the banlieue below. While the sound of a police helicopter immerses the social landscape in a tense mode of being watched by unfriendly eyes, Hubert’s gaze arrives at another window. Here we see a DJ, Cut Killer, positioning the loudspeakers by the window to sound outwards into the space between the buildings. The non-admission of young migrant men into discotheques is a recurring theme in banlieue films3 and also later in La Haine; here, the loudspeakers transform the open space of the banlieue into a grand dance floor.4Cut Killer stages an ingenious mix with samples of U.S. hip-hop artist KRS-One’s “Sound of the Police,” French rap formation Supreme NTM’s “Nique La Police” and Edith Piaf’s notorious “Je ne regrette rien.” more

Published: 27.06.2015
0 comments
1. Last Night, During the Riot, I Ran Into a Cow

Without cows and their appetite there would be no photography as we know it, argues Nicole Shukin in Animal Capital.1 The scientists at Kodak’s research laboratory had a problem at the beginning of the 20th century: The gelatin used by Kodak to bind light-sensitive agents to a base had produced results of poor quality. Only after mustard seeds had been added to the cows’ feed were satisfactory photographic results achieved. If cows hadn’t accepted their new diet, the photographic and cinematic history of the world would probably have been quite different.2 more

Published: 15.06.2015
0 comments
...
1. The Problematic Politics of Paul Strand

The recent retrospective exhibition of Paul Strand’s photographs, organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art to celebrate its purchase of more than 3000 prints and lantern slides from the Paul Strand Archive at the Aperture Foundation and coming to the Fotomuseum Winterthur in March, provides an ideal moment to think about Strand’s contribution and how he has been fashioned as a master of “modernist” photography (if not the slippery status of not-for-profit institutions that sell donated works to raise funds, perhaps the subject of another blog). More particularly, my interest derives from the ongoing debates about Strand’s politics and its importance to his work. At the heart of these debates, I would argue, are critical assumptions not only about what “political photography” looks like, but about how we have defined the winners and losers in our efforts to write a history of avant-garde, twentieth-century photography. more

Published: 01.02.2015
1 comments
...
3. Photography versus Contemporary Art: The Case of the Lecture Performance

There is less and less photography (and photographers) in contemporary art exhibitions, but more and more photographs. The photograph is a lens through which we see the contemporary world, which comes to us always already reproduced. Almost every static image we see these days is technically a photograph, since even art critics rarely cross paths with original paintings. In a contemporary art context, photographs abound in “research installations” and archival displays of all sorts; they are shown as a sequence of slides; they appear as stills in films. But recently, they have even begun to star in performances—for instance, in the increasingly popular genre of “lecture performance.” more

Published: 28.11.2014
3 comments
...
01.03.–15.04.2014
2. Seeing Machines

In my last blog post, I sketched out some of the ways that traditional photography theory and practice seems to be at a standstill. Contemporary revolutions in photography, from omnipresent digital picture-taking to the advent of hundred-billion image repositories have prompted some practitioners, theorists, and critics to ask whether “photography” (at least as it was once understood) “is over.” I noted that the question has arrived at an ironic time – how could photography be “over” at the exact moment in history that it has achieved an unprecedented ubiquity? more

Published: 13.03.2014
4 comments
...
1. Platinum Blondes and a Bearded Lady

“The grammar of cinema is a grammar uniquely its own.”

Jean Epstein

I remember once being fascinated at the discovery that the silky, almost-white, blond hair of many Hollywood stars from the Golden Age was only an illusion, – a contraption developed for the silver screen. The ability of platinum blond to reflect light endowed actresses clad in shimmering gowns with a radiant halo, bestowing upon them an enticing inaccessibility. more

Published: 01.03.2013
4 comments
...
5. A Look Forward

In my last post, I want to have a look at the challenges that may arise from the increasing use of both still and moving images by photographers. The first is, of course, whether photographer is still an apt term to describe these practitioners, or whether “digital camera artist” and “digital camera art” would not be more adequate terms – thus signaling a certain discontinuity and a distance to those who wish to artificially preserve  a certain type of photographic traditionalism and all of its attendant trappings. more

Published: 19.02.2013
4 comments
4. A Look Back (Part II)

In my post from two weeks ago, I pointed out that, despite their shared characteristics, film has been traditionally associated with artifice and fiction, whereas photography was supposed to have a preferred access to reality. This is, of course, due to the fact that in mainstream cinema film is used to create primarily narrative works, i.e. it defined the temporality of film as essentially narrative. This has shaped the relation of the two media. It sometimes seems that photography is haunted by its very limited narrative capacity in comparison with film. more

Published: 12.02.2013
3 comments
3. A Visit at Plat(t)form 2013

Instead of continuing my last post, I will allow myself a digression. Last week, I attended the annual Plat(t)form event at Fotomuseum Winterthur, where young photographers from all over Europe showcase their work. And indeed one could observe, as befits the topic of my blog posts that young photographers are increasingly beginning to take advantage of the fact that their cameras can record both still and moving images. more

Published: 05.02.2013
2 comments
2. A Look Back (Part I)

If one wants to gauge how the relation of still and moving images is shifting, it is useful to look back at the relation of film and photography in the analogue age.  Both media relied on the same optical apparatuses and photochemical processes – they produced images by exposing a photosensitive surface to light refracted by a lens. The images they produced were essentially indexical, and yet this indexicality has played a very different role in the reflection of the two media. more

Published: 28.01.2013
2 comments
1. The Shifting Relations of Still and Moving Photographic Images

The debates on the advent on digital photography in recent years have largely focused on the question whether the digital turn has essentially altered the nature of photography, and whether digital photography could indeed, strictly speaking, still be considered photography at all. Inherent in these queries was naturally the question of the respective validity, superiority, or inferiority, of digital and analogue photography. more

Published: 14.01.2013
3 comments