What is an apparatus?

Georgio Agamben, ‘What is an apparatus?’, pp.1-24, in:
Agamben, G., 2009. “What is an apparatus?” and other essays. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif.

p.13

I wish to propose to you nothing less than a general and massive partitioning of being into two large groups or classes: on the one hand, living beings (or substances), and on the other, apparatuses in which living beings are incessantly captured. On one side, then, to return to the terminology of the theologians, lighting ontology of creatures, and on the other side, the oikonomia of apparatuses that seek to govern and guide them towards the good.

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On the Invention of Photographic Meaning

Allan Sekula, ‘On the Invention of Photographic Meaning’, pp.84-109, in:
Burgin, V. Ed. 1982. Thinking Photography. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

p.84

The meaning of a photograph, like that of any other entity, in inevitably subject to cultural definition. The task here is to define and engage critically something we might call the ‘photographic discourse’.

A discourse is defined as an arena of exchange, that is, a system of relations between parties engaged in communicative activity.

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The One-Eyed Man and the One-Armed Man: Camera, Culture, and the State

John Tagg, ‘The One-Eyed Man and the One-Armed Man: Camera, Culture, and the State’, pp.1-49, in:
Tagg, J., 2009. The disciplinary frame: photographic truths and the capture of meaning. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

p.1

This carefully constructed room has an old name. It is a camera. A room, but a room with a purpose: the training of light, graphing it—quite literally, photo-graphing, subjecting light to the punctual rule of the room’s inbuilt geometrical law.

The camera is, then, a place to isolate and discipline light, like a room in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. And, like that room in the Panopticon, the cell of the camera has its utility both as a training machine and as a device for producing and preserving text.

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Fingers

Vilém Flusser, ‘Fingers’, pp.57-63, in:
Flusser, V., Zielinski, S., Baitello, N., Novaes, R.M., 2013 [1979]. Natural:mind. Univocal, Minneapolis, MN.

p.57

I am sitting on a chair. The chair is a product of Western civilization and if it were to be analysed it would reveal the history of the West.

The juxtaposition “chair – desk” is a characteristic structure of particular situations of my culture.

p.58

This is a slight paleo-technological writing instrument (a product of the beginning of the 20th century). The machine has keys inscribed with letters of the Latin alphabet.

My fingers hit the keys in a particular order. This order is therefore determined by the specific order of such a language.

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Photography, Vision and Representation

Joel Snyder & Neil Walsh Allen, ‘Photography, Vision, and Representation’, pp.143-169 in:
Critical Inquiry, Vol.2, Autumn 1975.

p.143

Is there anything peculiarly “photographic” about photography – something which sets it apart from all other ways of making pictures?

[…] for most of this century the majority of critics and laymen alike have tended to answer these questions in the same way: that photographs and paintings differ in an important way and require different methods in interpretation precisely because photographs and paintings come into being in different ways.

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Picturing Vision

Joel Snyder, ‘Picturing Vision’, pp.157-171, in:
Yates, Steve. ed. Poetics of Space: A Critical Photographic Anthology. University of New Mexico Press, Albequerque.

p.158

Our willingness to accept photographs as natural and mechanical records of what we see underscores the power of our belief that certain kinds of pictures achieve significance because they are “natural” – meaning that such pictures are related to what they depict in exactly (or roughly) the same way vision is related to what we see.

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The Traffic in Photographs

Allan Sekula, The Traffic in Photographs, pp. 15-25, in:
Art Journal, Vol. 41, No. 1, Photography and the Scholar/Critic (Spring, 1981)

p.15

The discourse that surrounds photography speaks paradoxically of discipline and freedom, vigorous truth and unleashed pleasures. Here then, at least by virtue of the need to contain the tensions inherent in this paradox, is the site of a certain shell game, a certain dance, even certain politics. In effect, we are invited to dance between photographic truth and photographic pleasures with very little awareness of the floorboards and muscles than make this seemingly effortless movement possible.

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Photography: history and theory

Jae Emerling, ‘Preface’ and ‘Introduction’, pp.xii-xiii and pp.1-16, in:

Emerling, J., 2012. Photography: history and theory. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY.

Preface

p.xii

Every book on photography is always marked by the same limitation: the absence of all the photographs discussed within the text.

In other words, every historical and theoretical text on photography has blind spots, photographs that are missing, absent, untranslatable. Rather than see this as a shortcoming, perhaps it is better to reckon with these blind spots as openings, as disjunctive syntheses.

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Technology is Society made Durable

Bruno Latour, ‘Technology is Society made Durable’, pp.103-130 in:

Law, J. (Ed.), 1991. A sociology of monsters: essays on power, technology, and domination. Routledge, London New York.

p.103

In this paper I argue that in order to understand domination we have to turn away from an exclusive concern with social relations and weave them into a fabric that includes non-human actants, actants that offer the possibility of holding society together as a durable whole.

To be sure, the distinction between material infrastructure and symbolic superstructure has been useful to remind social theory of the importance of non-humans, but it is a very inaccurate portrayal of their mobilisation and engagement inside the social links. This paper aims to explore another repertoire for studying this process of mobilisation.

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Something about Photography Theory

Victor Burgin, ‘Something about Photography Theory’, pp.61-66, in:

Screen, Jan/Feb 84, 25:1

p.61

We’re here to talk about theory. Many people are against it. Theory gets in the way of spontaneity. Theory is a realm of bloodless abstractions which have nothing to do with the cut-and-thrust of practice. For us, however, there is no state of Edenic innocence outside of theories.

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