Labors of Likeness: Photography and Labor in Marx’s “Capital.”

Daniel A. Novak, 2007. Labors of Likeness: Photography and Labor in Marx’s “Capital.” Criticism 49, 125–150.


This essay provides a new technological and discursive context for Karl Marx’s
theory of the laboring body and reproduction, and in doing so, seeks to change
the way we read Marx’s relationship to visuality, photographic reproduction, and
mechanical realism.

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Review of Gisèle Freund’s La Photographie en France au dix-neuvième siècle: Essai de sociologie et d’esthétique

Walter Benjamin, ‘Review of Gisèle Freund’s La Photographie en France au dix-neuvième siècle: Essai de sociologie et d’esthétique’, 1938

Benjamin, W., Leslie, E., 2016. On photography. Reaktion Books, London.

Research into the history of photography began about eight to ten years ago.

Gisèle Freund’s study represents the rise of photography as conditional on the rise of the bourgeoisie and is successful in making this conditionality comprehensible in relation to the history of the portrait.

Setting out from the portrait technique that was most widespread during the ancien régime, the costly ivory miniature, the author illustrates the various procedures which around 1780 – that is, 60 years before the invention of photography – pushed for acceleration and price reduction and, thereby, a wider diffusion of the demand for portraits.

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Philippe Dubois’s L’Acte photographique

Roger Cardinal. 1992. Philippe Dubois’s L’ Acte photographique. History of Photography 16, 176–177.


[…] roughly speaking, Dubois suggests, the nineteenth century emphasized the documentary sobriety of the camera, while the twentieth century has foregrounded its transfigurative or abstractive propensities – the author points to a third position based upon the tenet that ‘one cannot theorize about photography except in terms of its referential inscription and its pragmatic efficacy.

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Trace-Image to Fiction-Image

Dubois, P., 2016. Trace-Image to Fiction-Image: The unfolding of Theories of Photography from the ’80s to the Present. October 158, 155–166.


After the incredible impact of the posthumous publication of Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida in 1980, we saw, throughout the decade, a great number of more or less theoretical books, of special issues of journals (as well as new journals), of French translations of important texts, and countless colloquia on this theme, all of which bear witness to the extraordinary moment of vitality of this period at the end of the Structuralist years, a period that opened onto essentialist, phenomenological, and even ontological questions.

It was, we could say, a period of invention of “photography as theoretical object.”

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Photography as Industrial Occupation for Women

Jabez Hughes, ‘Photography as Industrial Occupation for Women’, 1873, in:

Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin, vol. 4 (1873), pp.162-166; originally published in the London Photo. News.

and pp.29-36, in:

Palmquist, P.E., 1989. Camera Fiends & Kodak Girls: 50 selections by and about women in photography, 1840-1930. Midmarch Arts Press, New York.


A little army of of workers were sudden//ly called forth to put it in practice, and now that it has definitely taken its place as one of the art industries, the question may fittingly be asked, by those interested in spreading the domain of female labor, whether this art offers a fresh outlet for women’s energies – whether this supplies to them a new field of legitimate, honorable and remunerative labor.

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A Short History of Photography in Dark Times

Ariella Azoulay, ‘A Short History of Photography in Dark Times’, pp.22-xx, in:

Azoulay, A., Haran, T., 2014. Aïm Deüelle Lüski and horizontal photography, Lieven Gevaert Series. Leuven University Press, Leuven (Belgium).


Turning the camera obscura into museum display object was at least part of the effort to reduce the conditions that enabled this impractical dimension to shape the practice of photography. The camera appeared as a utilitarian device facilitating the production of referential pictures whose object is identifiable and detectable, while enabling the photographer to part with them and still remain their sovereign author.

Deülle Lüski’s cameras project is a junction of phenomenological, epistemological, material, conceptual and political questions.

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Seeing Subjectivity: Erotic Photography and the Optics of Desire

Evans, J.V., 2013. Seeing Subjectivity: Erotic Photography and the Optics of Desire. The American Historical Review 118, 430–462.


Although intimacy, pleasure, and desire are fundamental elements of experience and personhood, they remain overlooked in most historical analyses. This is particularly true when it comes to erotic images.

Of course, getting at an embodied history of desire is no simple task, especially since the function and resonance of photographic sources is hardly self-evident.

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Labors of love: netporn, Web 2.0 and the meanings of amateurism

Paasonen, S., 2010. Labors of love: netporn, Web 2.0 and the meanings of amateurism. New Media & Society 12, 1297–1312.


Such transformations [in the production and consumption of pornography] are connected to shifts in the technologies of producing, distributing and consuming pornography.


All this calls for a rethinking of pornography as a popular media genre and the ways in which its boundaries have become stretched – and perhaps even redrawn – with the introduction of digital media tools.

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Redundant Photographs: Cameras, Software and Human Obsolescence

Daniel Palmer, ‘Redundant Photographs: Cameras, Software and Human Obsolescence’, pp.47-65, in:

Rubenstein, D., Golding, J., Fisher, A., 2013. On the verge of photography: imaging beyond representation. Article Press, Birmingham, UK.


The history of photography is also a history of automation.


Needless to say, the primary aim of automation is to reduce human labour time (related to a secondary aim of removing human error). Indeed, certain kinds of cameras today – such as those designed to identify car number plates – need no regular human operator at all.

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The Photograph as Post-Industrial Object

Vilém Flusser. ‘The Photograph as Post-Industrial Object: An Essay on the Ontological Standing of Photographs’ Leonardo, 19:4, 329-332, 1986


The Latin term ‘objectum’ and its Greek equivalent ‘problema’ mean ‘thrown against’, which implies that there is something against which the object is thrown: a ‘subject’. As subjects, we face a universe of objects, of problems, which are somehow hurled against us. This opposition is dynamic. The objects approach the subject, they come from the future into the subject’s presence.

The shock between subject and object occurs over the abyss of alienation which separates the two. The present tendency is to relegate this shock from human subjects to automatic apparatus. Automatic cameras may serve as an example.

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