Kember, Sarah, ed. 2008. Editorial, Photographies, 1(2). 1754-0763 [Edited Journal]

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Sarah Kember's contribution, which is part theory, part practice (the practice of fiction), seeks to offer an understanding of photography and photographs beyond that provided by the humanities (and by humanist discourse of both the art‐historical and the “visual cultural” kind). In the first part (“The Virtual Life of Photography”) she turns to Bergson to reinterpret Barthes's ontological enquiry in Cameras Lucida, and to the study of new media and science and technology studies (STS) to theorise photography's contemporary condition. Kember places photography firmly within its (new) media ecology: an ecology in which no medium stands alone, hard‐walled and untouched by others; this is an ecology in which convergence has taken place, not only between media, but also between technology, information, and the biological sciences, a condition within which photography is now entangled. Yet, she argues, we do not know what photography is (although she suggests how we might get closer to knowing) not only because of the limits of the theories seen as legitimate to address the question but also, following Bergson, because of a dominance of intellect and an atrophy of intuition as a method of enquiry. This, she suggests, is a situation that disables our ability to grasp an ontology of “becoming”, the very kind to which she sees photography belonging. In the second part (“Of Murder and Metamorphosis”) Kember proceeds to explore the kind of account that her analysis of photography's ontology and condition might generate. She considers a fictional report of (as she presents it) an invisible event – a photograph of a man being struck by lightening. In a mode that is itself a hybrid of academic research and fiction, Kember reflects upon how such an event might be understood when media studies, physics, biology, mythology, and medicine, as well as an address to photography as culture, are used to investigate processes that are always both natural and cultural, social and technological, material and metaphorical.

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Edited Journal

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

22 Oct 2015 14:59

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 14:29



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