Photography between Invisibility and the Unseen

Photography between Invisibility and the Unseen's image
Created: 2016-11-08 10:57
Institution: Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities
Description: The promise of mechanical and digital visual technologies is often assumed to originate in their ability to render the invisible visible, hence contributing to the wider de-mystification constitutive of modernity. This Seminar will approach a key technology in this respect, photography, from an angle that seeks to explore the extent to which it (and by extension other similar technologies) is also involved in a far more nuanced and complex epistemological and ontological operation of transforming the invisible into the "unseen", in the sense of deepened marking of human consciousness by the felt consequential and unsettling presence of something out of view. Recent literature on photographic techniques and practices, ranging from visual studies, history, anthropology, and science and technology studies have illuminated ways in which the symbolic and epistemic efficacy of photography derives not simply from its power of revealing what is hidden in the world, but equally from configuring a series of phenomena, events or forms as lying "at the edge of sight" (Smith 2013). Hence, at the same time as it stabilizes vision by showing what was hitherto imperceptible, photography also amplifies the experience of "imperceptibility" itself, by revealing human interaction with the world to be structured around irreducible visual blind spots. The Seminar will bring together scholars from diverse disciplines who are in various ways exploring this dialectic of the simultaneous stabilization of vision and expansion of the unseen, and who are documenting how photography's generative suspension between invisibility and the unseen shapes different "fields of vision" in the contemporary world. Focused on aesthetic, affective, semantic, evidential, and political aspects of the topic and their entanglements, the Seminar will foster critical, interdisciplinary approaches and dialogue on a key theoretical area of photography studies today.

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