Photographic Mediation as a Mode of Production: Investigating the Agency of Commercial Institutions in Contemporary Vernacular Photography

Bales, Adam. 2021. Photographic Mediation as a Mode of Production: Investigating the Agency of Commercial Institutions in Contemporary Vernacular Photography. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This dissertation argues that to understand what is at stake in contemporary vernacular photography, it is vital to account for the commercial imperatives that are invested in our photographic apparatus. The vernacular is often seen as emerging from the milieu of everyday life, operating outside of institutional constraints. However, commercial institutions have always played a vital role in shaping the meaning and matter of vernacular photography, producing the extended network of devices and protocols through which photographic activity takes place. Vernacular photography should therefore be seen to encapsulate a series of complex negotiations between individual desires and commercial imperatives. Through an examination of three central case studies - Kodak, Snapchat and Ditto Labs - this thesis aims to elucidate how the productive potential of vernacular photography is instrumentalized as a means of generating value. Bringing together approaches from western Marxism with contemporary theories of networked media and photography, the argument is made that photographic mediation can be usefully framed as a mode of production. Photographic mediation, referring to the processual and material dynamics of photography, is employed to investigate the circuits of labour, value and desire that flow through our photographic apparatus. In performing this analysis, the concept of deterritorialization is applied as a way of understanding how photographic mediation has become more productive through destabilizing the boundaries between photography, subjectivity and the everyday. As photography proliferates and disperses into the rhythms and atmospheres that constitute daily life, it is increasingly imbricated into the performance and production of identities, relationships and desires. Under these circumstances, it becomes all the more vital that we recognize the role of commercial actors in shaping not only our photographic apparatus, but also our ways of being in, and relating to, the world.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00030436

Additional Information:

This is an edited version of the thesis, with third-party copyright material removed.

Keywords:

Vernacular Photography, Photographic Mediation, Networked Photography, Artificial Intelligence, Kodak, Snapchat, Marxism, Deleuze

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies

Date:

31 July 2021

Item ID:

30436

Date Deposited:

17 Aug 2021 12:39

Last Modified:

17 Aug 2021 13:37

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/30436

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