Archive for the ‘Essays’ Category

Kember, Sarah; Zylinska, Joanna. ‘Remediating Creativity: Performance, Invention, Critique’, Life After New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2012) pp.173-200 p.175 In the context of the previous arguments, it may seem risky or even impudent to reclaim creativity as a viable strategy for thinking about the media differently. p.176 Indeed, creativity is inevitably tied […]

Jean-Claude Gautrand, Publicités Kodak: 1910-1939 (Paris: Contre-jour, 1983). p.2 The advertised image is no less ephemeral than the newspaper, the magazine or the poster that conveys it. The need to continually  repeat the commercial message, to reassess its visual impact and to avoid visual boredom leads to making a series of images that follow one another, […]

Lorey, Isabell. ‘Becoming Common: Precarization as Political Constituting’ e-flux journal #17 (June-August 2010) 1-10 [] p.1 In the past decade, conversations concerning both the (partly subversive) knowledge of the precarious, and a search for commons (in order to constitute the political), has conspicuously taken place more often in art institutions than in social, political, or even […]

Bishop, Claire. “The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents” in Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (London: Verso, 2012) pp. 11-40 p.11 [on Debord] Given the market’s near total saturation of our image repertoire, so the argument goes, artistic practice can no longer revolve around the construction of objects to be consumed by […]

Benjamin, Walter, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction translated by J. A. Underwood (London, Penguin Books, 2008) 1-50 p.3 In principle, the work of art has always been reproducible. What man has made, man has always been able to make again. […]

Flusser, Vilem. ‘Exile and Creativity’ Writings translated by Andreas Ströhl (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002) 104-109 [1984] p.104 In exile, everything is unusual. Exile is an ocean of chaotic information. In it the lack of redundancy does not allow the flood of information to be received as meaningful messages. Because it is unusual, exile is unlivable. One […]

Tactile Looking


Olin, Margaret. ‘Tactile Looking’ Touching Photographs (London: University of Chicago Press, 2012) 1-21 p.1 Photographs are visible, but photography is not only a “visual” practice. p.2 There is a tension between looking and touching; the two activities seem to alternate like a blinking eye, as though we cannot do both at the same time. Many of us […]

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 p.32 [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 […]

Lomax, Yve. ‘Future Politics/The Line in the Middle’ Writing the Image (London: I.B.Tauris, 2000) 39-53 p.39 I, like many others, have searched for a point of certainty. yes, I hoped to find it and I was innocent or arrogant enough to think that I could find it, but I could never have found it. But still I […]



Agamben, Giorgio. ‘Desiring’ Profanations translated by Jeff Fort (New York: Zone Books, 2010) 53-54 p.53 We are unable to put our desires in language because we have imagined them. In reality the crypt contains only images, like a picture book for children who do not yet know how to read, like the Imagerie l’Epinal of […]

Judgement Day


Agamben, Giorgio. ‘Judgement Day’ Profanations translated by Jeff Fort (New York: Zone Books, 2010) 23-27 p.23 What quality fascinates and entrances me in the photographs I love? I believe it is this: for me, photography in some way captures the Last Judgement; it represents the world as it appears on the last day. the Day […]

Flusser, Vilem. ‘The Codified World’ Writings translated by Andreas Ströhl (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002) 35-41 [originally published in 1978] p.35 If we compare our situation with the one that existed before the Second World War, we are impressed by the relative colorlessness of the time before the war. Our environment is filled with color, which, day […]

Flusser, Vilem. ‘Photography and History’ Writings translated by Andreas Ströhl (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002) 126-131 [originally published in 1989] p.126 We should differentiate between prehistoric, historical, and posthistorical images, and we should consider the photograph to be the first posthistorical image. Prehistoric images are those that were produced before the invention of linear writing. Historical images […]

Flusser, Vilem. ‘Line and Surface’ Writings translated by Andreas Ströhl (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002) 21-34 [originally published in 1973] p.21 Surfaces are becoming ever more important in our surroundings. For instance, TV screens, posters, the pages of illustrated magazines. Photographs, paintings, carpets, vitreaux, cave paintings surrounded men in the past, but these surfaces did not offer themselves […]

Flusser, Vilem. ‘The Future of Writing’ Writings translated by Andreas Ströhl (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002) 63-69 [originally written, 1983-4] p.63 Writing is an important gesture, because it both articulates and produces that state of mind which is called “historical consciousness.” History began with the invention of writing,not for the banal reason often advanced that written texts […]

Kotz, Liz. ‘Language Between Performance and Photography’ October. Winter 2005, Issue 111, 3-21. p.3 Although there is a tendency to see language as something like the “signature style” of Conceptual work, it is important to remember that the turn to language as an artistic material occurs earlier, with the profusion of text-based scores, instructions, and performance notations that […]

Batchen, Geoffrey. ‘Photogrammatology: Writing/Photography’ Art Document, Winter (1994), 3-6 p.3 By projecting photography as a system of representation, each individual photograph becomes an historical, and therefore mutable, artefact of meaning. This view of photography directly opposes  the one propagated since the late 1960’s by formalist scholars, such as John Szarkowski. This Kantian historiography therefore entails a continual search for “concepts […]

Flusser, Vilém. ‘The Gesture of Writing’ 1991 Accessible online here. p.1 To write means, of course, to perform an action by which a material, (for instance chalk, or ink), is put on a surface, (for instance a blackboard or a leaf of paper), to form a specific pattern, (for instance letters). And the tools used […]

Snyder, Joel. ‘Picturing Vision’ Poetics of Space: A Critical Photographic Anthology ed. by Steve Yates (Albequerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995) 157-171 p.158 Our willingness to accept photographs as natural and mechanical records of what we see underscores the power of our belief that certain kinds of pictures achieve significance because they are “natural” – meaning […]

Savedoff, Barbara E. ‘Transformation in Photography’ Transforming Images: How Photography Complicates the Picture (New York: Cornell University Press, 2000) 47-128 p.48 Photography’s special significance lies in its documentary quality, in the fact that the photographer does not have the painter’s freedom to create and control. But if this is true, we can only evaluate photographs […]