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Photography Theory in Historical Perspective

ISBN: 978-1-4051-9197-5
278 pages
April 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Photography Theory in Historical Perspective (140519197X) cover image


Photography Theory in Historical Perspective: Case Studies from Contemporary Art aims to contribute to the understanding of the multifaceted and complex character of the photographic medium by dealing with various case studies selected from photographic practices in contemporary art, discussed in the context of views and theories of photography from its inception.
  • uses case studies to explain photographic practices in contemporary art and place them in the context of theory
  • presents current debates on theory of photography through comparisons to research of other visual media
  • applicable to vernacular and documentary photography as well as art photography
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Table of Contents



Structure of the Book

What is a "Medium"?

Framing the Focus of the Book.

Analog Versus Digital.

The Overlap of Themes.

1 Representation in Photography: The Competition with Painting.

Photography, Objectivity, and Representation.

Straight and Composed Photography: The Impact of the Digital.

Photographs as Iconic Index of the Reality Represented.

Aura, Authenticity, and Reproducibility in Photography.

Painting-like Photographs Versus Photo-like Paintings as Multimediating Pictures: The Question of Color.

Sharp and Blurred Photographs: Transparency and Hypermediacy.

2 Time in Photography: The Rivalry with Time-Based Arts.

Barthes's That-has-Been and Punctum.

Time Exposure and Instantaneity in Photographs.

Serial Documentation and the Decisive Moment.

Presence and Absence in Photography: Replaced Images Versus Objects of Contemplation.

3 Place and Space in Photography: Positioning Toward Virtual Places and Spatial Objects.

Constructed Places in Relation to Places That Exist(ed).

Monocular Perspective Investigated Through Divergent and Poly-ocular Perspectives.

Spatial Photographs as Extension of the Photo as Two-dimensional Image.

4 Photography's Social Function: The Documentary Legacy.

"Photography Against the Grain".

Photography, Text, and Context.

(Post-)Documentary Photographs as Art. Color, and the Politics of (Re)Presentation.

Critical Approaches of Advertising and Fashion Photography.

5 Self-reflective Photography.

Photography as Record of the Reflection of Light.

Reflections on Taking Photographs: Photograph–Camera–Photographer.

The Photograph as Product of a Process of Reflection.

Psychoanalytic Theories Projected in Photography.

From Self-reflective Digital Photography Back to Classical Mirror Mythologies.



Credits and sources.


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Author Information

Hilde Van Gelder is editor of the Lieven Gevaert Series. She has co-edited several books inthe series, including Photography Between Poetry and Politics: The Critical Position of the Photographic Medium in Contemporary Art (2008).

Helen Westgeest is editor and one of the authors of Take Place: Photography and Place from Multiple Perspectives (2009).

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"Van Gelder and Westgeest offer an important, dense, and advanced study of the complex character of the photographic medium as it has been understood over time...Using what the authors call case studies, this volume examines specific pictures by carefully selected photographic artists...various analyses quote numerous authors and establish their theoretical positions...This book challenges or elaborates upon accepted notions of what constitutes a photography, and discusses photography's role in the practice of contemporary art...Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty." P.C. Bunnell, emeritus, Princeton University (Choice, November 2011)
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