A two-day conference at the University of West London supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council

The fields of photography theory and history have in recent years moved away from the assumption of a break between the analogue and digital image to a more nuanced understanding of both past and contemporary photographic practices, images, and technologies. Increasingly photography is discussed in relation to other media, to industry and markets and to climate and the environment. At the same time questions of aesthetics and interpretation are recast and understood in terms of sensual, haptic, embodied and everyday encounters with material images. This conference will examine photography as simultaneously material and immaterial, addressing not only the tangible properties of photographic objects, but also the ecosystems in which they circulate. We live in and through the photographic, in its physical presence in the world, and in our thought. The conference thus also invites considerations of the ways in which a mode of philosophical thinking can be conceived as photographic or vice versa.

We welcome abstracts from colleagues in film or cinema studies working on the physical and chemical aspects of film (celluloid and light for example) and questions of aesthetic/sensual experience; and from colleagues in media, literature, history and philosophy whose work addresses the photographic in its various manifestations and forms. Artists whose work engages with the conference themes are welcome to submit a proposal.

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Ecologies of photography: atmospherics (clouds, fogging, aerialism, climate), energetics  
  • Photography and the ineffable: material/immaterial, apparitions, image/imagination
  • Science and technology: maintenance, glitches, wet and dry photography, chemistry, apparatus
  • Visibility and illumination: enlightenment and luminescence, flash, phosphorescence
  • Transience: ephemerality, obsolescence, wear and tear
  • Materiality: from celluloid to coltan, gelatine and silver, tactility, gesture, embodiment and thingliness

Abstract Submission:  Please send abstracts (300 words max.) for a 20 minute paper with your name, title, affiliation (where appropriate) and a short bio (up to 200 words) by 5th of June 2019 to the conference organizers: Dr. Michelle Henning, Professor of Photography and Cultural History, University of West London [email protected]; and Dr. Junko Theresa Mikuriya, Senior Lecturer in Photography, University of West London, [email protected]