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Repetition and Difference: The Dissemination of Photography

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Geoffrey Batchen’s talk will address the effects and implications of photography’s relationship to reproduction. Among other effects, photography’s reproducibility allows photographic images to be widely circulated, but it also gives the same image the capacity to come in many different looks, sizes and formats. It also makes it possible for an image to appear in many places at once and to exist simultaneously at many different points of time. Equally complicated is the way its capacity for reproducibility ties photography to the processes and social implications of capitalist mass production, making any study of its effects an unavoidably political issue. Indeed, a tracing of photography’s dissemination throughout modern culture, as evidenced in particular photographic instances of repetition and difference, reveals the medium to be fraught with its own divided and multiplied identities. By exploring this one crucial issue, Batchen aims to present a way of thinking about photography that can match the extraordinary complexity of the photographic experience.

Professor Geoffrey Batchen teaches art history at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, specializing in the history of photography. His books include Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997), Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (2001), Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance (2004), William Henry Fox Talbot (2008) and Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (2010). He has also edited Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida (2009) and co-edited Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (2012).

This talk is part of the History of Art and Architecture Graduate Seminar Series - Art and Urbanity series.

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