Back from the Future – Panel Discussion 29.09.2018 – 15.04.2024 | C/O Berlin


The Past is Unpredictable: The starting point for this panel discussion is the observation that the past encompasses something open-ended and indeterminate for contemporary photography. With the advent of the digital age, we can no longer be certain of whether a photographic image points to something in the past. In this age of digital acceleration, smart environments and preemptive control, the future has a bigger impact than the past. Our behaviour is influenced by the way we envisage a future portrayed in images of simulated environmental change and ecological catastrophe. City maps and architectural surveillance visualised by google street view influence our movements. War and crime are pre-emptively regulated in ways that determine our view of the other, while the blurring of image manipulation and plastic surgery changes the way how we look at ourselves.

The panel addresses how photographic temporality can join forces with the future and how it can counter technocratic fantasies of controlling our future through images. Are there progressive ‘preemptive’ images? How can we bring them from the future into the present day in order to gain political agency? And how can we embrace the promise of an open past presented to us in an image that comes back from the future?

Panelists: Armen Avanessian (philosopher), Anke Hennig (author & researcher), Mario Pfeifer (artist); chaired by: Doris Gassert (Fotomuseum).

A cooperation with C/O Berlin as part of the European Month of Photography.