Tag, practice
01.03.–15.04.2014
3. Scripts

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 – seeing machines. The point of having such an expanded definition is to help us notice and recognize the myriad ways in which imaging systems (including traditional cameras), and the images they produce, are both ubiquitous, and actively sculpting the world in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. Moreover, I proposed that classical photo theory is of little use, and may indeed actually hinder, a broad understating of contemporary imaging systems. more

Published: 24.03.2014
2 comments
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. Is Photography Over?

A few years ago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art held a conference about photography – for a photo conference, it had the odd title “Is Photography Over?.” Curators Sandra Phillips and Dominic Wilsdon posed the question as a challenge to panelists, audience members and the world at large. The two-day symposium was an attempt to shake up conventional institutionalized discourses about photography and to be an opportunity to think about what, if anything, has “changed” about photography over the last decade or so.

From my point of view, the fact that the world’s leading photo-curators would even pose such a question turned out to be more illuminating than most of the symposium’s content. Wilsdon and Phillips’ provocation reflects a deep-seated uneasiness among photo-theorists and practitioners about the state of their field. more

Published: 03.03.2014
16 comments
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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
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01.11.–15.12.2012
6. Reflections on the Effect of Photography on the Sciences

In this last blog I want to turn the conversation toward something that has lately occupied me in my writing and thinking about photography and photographic practice. Many of the arguments put forward in the previous posts are deeply informed by the notion that photography is not passive. more

Published: 13.12.2012
2 comments
5. Experiment

Experiments have traditionally been set in opposition to observation, although more recent scholarship has begun to seriously question that neat categorization. If photographic observations, the subject of the last blog, are messy, then experiments seem to be even more so. more

Published: 10.12.2012
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4. Observation

The next two blogs will deal with the often conjoined activities of observation and experiment, as they pertain to photography and science. They are significant in thinking about photography because they are so very bound up in the arguments about photography’s supposedly prickly relationship with art. more

Published: 05.12.2012
1 comments
3. Photographic Practice and Photography

Since we are following a trajectory in this blog of asking what it might be like to explore photographic history from a look at particular photographic practices, I want to address one of the comments in the last blog here in a whole new thread. In the last blog, Ulla Fischer-Westhauser rightly brought up Marietta Blau and nuclear emulsions. more

Published: 22.11.2012
1 comments
2. Photography and the Invisible

For many years, an oft-repeated theme in relation to science photographs has been the revelatory concept of making invisible things visible. Reiterated in exhibition and book titles, the concept has become commonplace without ever submitting to significant scrutiny. It needs scrutiny, however, since scholarship by Edwards, Tucker, Kelsey, Daston, Galison and others have made it very clear that there is much more to photography’'s role in science than as a simple, passive conduit, translating the invisible ‘out there’ to the visible ‘here and now’. more

Published: 13.11.2012
10 comments
1. Image and Practice

On 24 February 1839, Jean Baptiste Biot suggested in a letter to William Henry Fox Talbot that the fixation of exact photographic tonality, the fine shades, (and depending on how you read it, even the fixation of images themselves), was largely a matter for art. Physics, he continued, was more concerned with the use of the instrument – in this case, photogenic drawing paper. Scientists’ comments about photography, like this one from Biot, illuminate historiographical roads not taken, holding out the possibility of adding new strands to the history of photography. more

Published: 31.10.2012
2 comments
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15.09.–31.10.2012
5. A Subject for, a History about, Photography

My previous posts have explored the various ramifications of photography’s reproducibility, pursuing the way this attribute disseminates the photograph, securing, dispersing and dissipating its identity in about equal measure. I have suggested that this pursuit considerably complicates the traditional representation of photography’s history, undermining any narrative based on single artists or single prints or indeed on chronology or purity of medium—undermining, in other words, much of the traditional infrastructure of published histories of photography. more

Published: 17.10.2012
6 comments
3. Still Searching: “the dark, repressed side”

My previous post briefly mentioned the negative as one crucial component of the identity of many photographs. It is, nevertheless, an aspect of that identity often ignored by histories of photography, where negatives are rarely reproduced or discussed at any length. Negatives, it seems, are truly the repressed, dark side of photography’s history. True, there is a conference (could it be the first?) on the negative being planned for Munich in February. But my interest is not in reviving the study of the negative as an object unto itself (although photographers in the nineteenth century did often exhibit their negatives, to display their technical prowess) but in pursuing the consequences of the reproductive economy that photographic negatives represent. more

Published: 01.10.2012
22 comments
1. Dissemination

The theme of my contribution to Still Searching is inspired by Walter Benjamin’s famous essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility’ (1935-36). Or, rather, it is inspired by the striking absence of discussions of reproduction and its effects in the literature about photography since this essay first appeared. So I guess I am searching, in the first instance, for the reasons for this absence, given that Benjamin’s essay has been made compulsory reading for a generation of students and is one of the most cited in serious texts about the photographic experience. more

Published: 15.09.2012
10 comments
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15.01.–29.02.2012
4. Practice

Up until now photography has perhaps been conceived too much in terms of images, and its social function has been neglected. But ultimately it is the way photography is used that affirms or negates its realism. In talking about photographic realism, one should not talk about the images but about photographic practices. Practical application decides the function of photography and defines its epistemic fields of reference. It decides about good and evil, conviction and rejection, images and their meaning. more

Published: 05.02.2012
9 comments