Ere the Substance Fade


Batchen, Geoffrey. ‘Ere the Substance Fade: Photography and hair jewellery’ Photographs Objects Histories: On the materiality of images ed. by Elizabeth Edwards and Janice Hart (London: Routledge, 2004) 32-46


[On a photo-locket]

Designed to be touched, this object touches back, casually grazing the pores of my skin with its textured surfaces. In this mutual stroking of the flesh, object and image come together as one; I behold the thingness of the visual, the tooth of its grain, even as I encounter the visuality of the tactile, the piercing force of its perception.

Organised around a canon of presumed masters and masterworks, with originality, uniqueness and aesthetic innovation as its principle tropes, photography’s art history has tended to ignore ordinary, commercial photographic practices, of which photo-jewellery is certainly one.


[…] it is tempting […] to abandon the discipline of photo-history altogether and adopt in its place the methods and concerns of material culture, a mode of analysis that exlicitly addresses itself to the social meanings of artefacts.

[Batchen wants] to resist this temptation, however, and instead keep working towards changing photography’s history from within. Otherwise the genre of photographic jewellery will continue to be left out of photographic histories, finding itself confined to the relative ghettos of social history or cultural anthropology, or lost in a vast continuum of related, but non-photographic, representational practices. I want, in contrast, to concentrate on the particularities of my locket’s ‘photographicness’.

No Responses Yet to “Ere the Substance Fade”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s