Photography is ostensibly a visual medium; to suggest otherwise would seem counterintuitive, nonsensical, downright perverse. After all, we are so acquainted with seeing the photograph as a mimetic visual representation of that which it pictures—the archetypical icon— that we think about precisely its spectral nature, nor ponder on the value of this visual clone, assess the economics of the circulation and distribution of images, question photography’s nature as a medium beyond the surface of the image.
In this seminar, we will follow four strands in the photographic:
firstly we will consider the early history of photographic image making, and see how key features of photography which we take to be contemporary were always already at the heart of the medium. In a second path, we will look at the high period of modernist photography, which pictured the world as already made for the photograph, in a counter- point this development we will see how especially concrete photography makes the medium as such the message; in a third phase we will see how photography really unleashed itself from the constraints of representation; this then leads on to considering photography as non-representational in a fourth phase.
The seminar will thus engage with theoretical and critical texts, and with a wide range of practices and producers, from vernacular everyday photography, through the modernists, such as Paul Strand, Man Ray, or Tina Moddotti, to concrete work such as that of Paul Fuss, and then to contemporary photography such as Stephen Gill. Of course, there will also be the opportunity for participants to address the kind of images they are particularly interested in, including their own work, too.