Photography Off the Scale
FAMU in Prague, 9–10th November 2018
We have become accustomed to speaking of photography in terms of deluge, flow, overload, multiplicity, multitude or excess; using liquid metaphors, projections of exponential growth and various gargantuan measures that exceed not only singular images but also their series, archives or databases. The photographic gesture seems to be no longer one of pressing the shutter but rather the instantaneous uploading, searching, tagging, sharing, networking and filtering of masses of images. At the same time, the images don’t seem to represent or mediate anymore but rather operate, track, activate, oversee, control, detect and identify. Most contemporary accounts seem to suggest some kind of Hegelian phase transition – a becoming-other of photography, its breaking off and a leap from quantitative into qualitative alteration.
“Around sixty billion photographs are taken every year,” claimed Julian Stallabrass in 1996; Joan Fontcuberta updated the figures recently: “800 million images are uploaded to Snapchat every day, together with 350 million to Facebook and 80 million to Instagram.” “This year, people will take about a trillion photos, and for many of us, that means a digital photo gallery filled with images that we won’t actually look at,” claims Josh Lovejoy at the presentation of Google Clips, a hands-free AI-powered camera, which automatically recognizes and captures memorable moments without human intervention.
What kind of entity is “about a trillion photos”? What kind of perceiver does it presuppose? Do such vertiginous quantifications imply something about the changing nature of photography and, if so, in what sense? What happens to images when the displays are turned off? Are we producing streams of redundant images just to train machines to see?
The conference “Photography Off the Scale” seeks to address the ever-growing number of cameras and images and the techniques and approaches, both artistic and scholarly, of coping with the large-scale, gigantic and incalculable in photography.
Abstract of 500 words for 30-minute presentations accompanied by a short bio, including name and affiliation of author(s) should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31st May 2018. Notification of selected proposals will be sent back by 15th June.
Tomas Dvorak, FAMU in Prague