01 Nov - 20 Dec 2017

Re-thinking the Image: Contemporary Photography Theory

Wednesdays 01 Nov - 20 Dec 18.30 – 20.00 

“Brilliant Value”

“Varied and Stimulating”

“Challenging and contemporary”

“Thought provoking”

This popular eight-week course, focused on the range and resonance of photographic theory returns this Autumn.  

Led by art critic, editor and occasional curator Jonathan P. Watts each session aims to develop the scope of subject matter and theoretical horizons informing the discipline of photography today.

Drawing across disciplines from computing to media archaeology, as well as artists’ writings, this course reorients ideas concerning the production, distribution and interpretation of photographic-based imagery today. Explore emerging phenomena in current theory concerning ‘machinic’ gazes, virality, software materiality, surveillance technologies and spam.

The course pays tribute to key texts from writers and thinkers such as Susan Sontag, John Berger and Roland Barthes whilst advancing ideas put forward by contemporary critics, particularly Daniel Rubinstein and Katrina Sluis in their influential essay ‘A Life More Photographic’ (2008).  Central to their proposal is that today, ‘a scholar of photography must be highly informed about industries and institutions that traditionally have had little to do with the study of photography’.

Course Outline

Week 1: Photography’s Institutions: Or, How To Teach Photography Theory and What Should a Photography Gallery or Museum Do?

Week 2: Post-photographic: The ‘Medium’, The Archive and The Museum

Week 3: The Image Quantified and Networked: (In)attention, Arousal, Virality

Week 4: Being There: Presence Mediated by Screens and Frames

Week 5: Towards a Materiality of Interface and Software

Week 6: (Selfie) Surveillance Technologies and Practices

Week 7: Queer Photographies

Week 8: Photography and Waste in the Age of the Anthropocene

This course is open to students of all levels and will gather the most exciting material from across disciplines to explore emerging phenomena in contemporary photography theory.

Each session begins with a contextual lecture that will establish key themes and questions for a group discussion of set texts. Expect to address the writings of Elizabeth Edwards, Jens Schröter, Louise Wolthers, Lev Manovich, Hito Steyerl, Jodi Dean, Jussi Parikka, and Esther Leslie and more.

Jonathan P. Watts is Associate Lecturer in Photography at Nottingham Trent University and Lecturer in Critical and Historical Studies at the Royal College of Art, London. With seven friends he co-edits A-or-ist, a journal of new critical writing on contemporary art.

£220/£200 members & concessions

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