What do I know about European Production Studies? Come and find out!
Thanks to students and staff at BA (Hons) Photography, University College, Falmouth for a great few days lecturing and a rally good crit. Incredible potential in the work from some committed students! Terrific audience too, as I spoke on the Monday evening as part of their series of talks. My contribution was some developing thoughts around ‘Delay’, which continues to be an essay in demand. You can see my talk here:
King’s College London; Queen Mary, UoL; Kingston University
September 12, 2012 – September 14, 2012
Film-philosophy continues to grow as an important discipline within the fields of both Film Studies and Philosophy. The Film-Philosophy Conference brings together scholars from all over the world to present their research on a broad range of topics within the subject area.
The 2012 conference will take place September 12-14, and will be jointly hosted by King’s College London, Queen Mary, University of London and Kingston University.
- Bernard Stiegler (Goldsmiths, University of London; University of Technology of Compiègne)
- Francesco Casetti (Yale University)
- Ken McMullen (Director of Ghost Dance)
- Libby Saxton (Queen Mary, University of London)
- Damian Sutton (Middlesex University)
This year’s event will feature a special screening and workshop at the BFI Southbank, to coincide with their Hitchcock Retrospective.
After a long period away from WP and other things, I am finally back in action presenting a version of and work in progress on new ontologies of film and photography:
Queen Mary University of London – Department of Film Studies:
25th January 5pm (Hitchcock Lecture Theatre, Room G.19 Arts Building)
‘Time-Lapse, Time Map: The Photographic Body of San Francisco in David Fincher’s Zodiac’
I’ll be talking about some recent work on Zodiac which featured in the Spanish journal L’Atalante and its relation ship to social science and philosophical approaches to time and production. Hope to see you there!
I thought I would write up some notes on my thoughts before my talk at Yumchaa tomorrow night. If you’re coming along, I’ve also jotted down some associated reading. Last year I was asked to write an essay for an anthology to accompany the main exhibition on time and photography for PHotoEspaña 2010 in Madrid. Rather than lop something out of my recent book (presumably the reason I was asked) I thought I’d write something new and, at the time, something I thought would be rather whimsical fairly I consequential. Now, that essay has been picked up for publication in Sweden and (in translation) in Finland and seems to have a life all of its own. I have to confess, although the talk is entitled “Digital Delay”, it’s hardly about digital photography at all, but more about how changes in technology from analogue to digital offer the opportunity to really understand what photography is. When I was asked to write that first essay, I had on my desktop an article by the geographer (and vice-chancellor of Warwick University) Nigel Thrift – a editorial piece for an academic journal on organizational management. I’m am not exactly sure why, but I think I had been looking for something to read in order to move on from thinking about time in photography from the perspective of the image. Back then, I had been mostly focused on the ways in which time changes for us when we view an image, and how our experience of the photograph’s stillness might not necessarily relate to the passing of time, but more an experience of something coming before or proceeding on, yet captured within the image. Okay so, I wrote a book on that, but after a while I started to become interested in theories of time which were about practices, about production, rather than about representing time. These theories are embedded in social science, geography and anthropology, and of course emerge from economic and political theory (time as a commodity in Marx/Weber for instance). They have started to alter my thinking radically, and even to move me away from the image in photography as a site for discussion. These are theories about how and why we do things, about our experiences of practice as much as the practices themselves – what I mean is, they suggest that there are not only practices of photography, and not only that we think about and reflect upon these practices, but that these practices correspond to larger social patterns even create our common understanding of time. What I liked about Thrift, and especially what I liked in his 2008 book, was his desire to understand experience and practice not by looking at the particular and the special, but by looking at the everyday, the normal, and the repetitive. Okay, this is nothing new in the social sciences but it is quite a radical step in the arts. Instead of looking at the artwork, for example, the suggestion is that we look at its production. But instead of looking at what is unique or characteristic about a particular practice, we should look at what is similar, automatic, mechanic about it. Imagine we looked at Andreas Gursky’s practice not by looking at his images, but by looking at how he actually uses the camera, and never looked at his images at all. The context of the work may not even be about what the photographer is trying to achieve, but about what he repeats in his actions from the work of others, what is controlled or directed by the technology (and thereby the wider visual culture to which camera manufacturers respond). We know this from situations in which we can put together a Gursky ‘look’ (or anyone else’s) by imitating the practice. This something students often learn in the studio, but it’s much more common than you might think. I recently wrote a piece on David Fincher’s Zodiac, and found during my research that Fincher and cinematographer Harris Savides had quite a fractious relationship since Fincher wanted the movie to be shot on digital to look like film, whereas Savides’ argued that they might as well just shoot on film. More to the point, Fincher explicitly wanted a filmic look to be reminiscent of William Eggleston’s photographic work. Another example is Owen McPolin’s work on shows such as Doctor Who (which appears heavily influenced by Gursky, recently). In this sense, a practice is something that has ‘gained enough stability over time, for example, the establishment of corporeal routines and specialized devices, to reproduce themselves,’ as Thrift would say. This sounds overly theoretical but imagine what it might mean for photography studies – it has the capacity to reunite the study of materials and practices (such as in photography history) with the often seemingly remote concepts of ‘theory’ which try to account for larger forces at work in culture, and which seem to get in the way of ideas about practice. It wouldn’t be the first time that media such as photography have been conceived in this way – Marxist media theory is almost explicitly about this – but it does represent a shift if we see it through ‘non-representational’ eyes. That is to say, when we think about what practitioners actually do (what they repeat, as much as how they innovate). This is already being done, I think, by professional or creative photographers whenever they pick up a digital camera (especially a highly automated one) since they are forced to think about what elements of photographic practice are already automatic, already re-defined, already a repetition.