Creation and Control in the Photographic Process: iPhones and the Emerging Fifth Moment of Photography
Photographies 5(2): 203-221 (2012), DOI:10.1080/17540763.2012.702123
16 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2020
Date Written: August 14, 2012
Our approach in this paper is to understand photography not as representation, technology, or object, but as the agency that takes place when a set of technologies, meanings, uses and practices align. The photographic object, in this sense, is nothing but the materialization of a series of assemblages, and the photographic object also enables or constrains other assemblages with its use and distribution. We propose therefore, to understand photography as a socio-technical network.
In this article, we will underline some aspects that relate, on the one side, to the technological devices necessary for image production and their “social meanings” and, on the other, the kind of practices that shape and are shaped by those devices. We will discuss how the relationship between production technologies and meanings have shaped different visual regimes. To do this, the article starts with a brief historical description focusing on the production of photos as a three-step process: 1) Infrastructural elements of image production (cameras, film, memory cards, etc.); 2) technologies of processing images (labs, chemicals, computers, software, expertise, etc.); and 3) distribution/showing of images. Finally, we will discuss the latest socio-technological practices, and we propose that the iPhone and similar devices which will almost surely follow are possibly opening a new stage in visual technologies. Finally, we end with some reflections on the current controversies surrounding photography.
Keywords: photography, iphone, socio-technical interaction networks
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