2/2022: Community (in) photography

(CFP: February 1–28, 2022)

Photography as a socio-cultural practice has long been the subject of analyses and studies conducted from many research perspectives. One of the frequently discussed aspects is its sociopetal – taking responsibility for the construction, reconstruction and defence of a group or community identity. In principle, any type of photography can carry this value. To use Bruno Latour’s term, photography is an actant acting on other actors in the multi-layer network of what constitutes reality. Connecting not only photographers, it inspires the formation of communities of photography enthusiasts, organisers of photo festivals, reviews, conferences, as well as editorial teams and research groups dedicated specifically to this medium. Contemporary photography lovers are pursuing their passions online, organising virtual exhibitions, commenting, and evaluating their works. Professional photographers are establishing popular collectives that give rise to various communities. How are the social mechanisms of associating through the medium of photography changing? What purposes do they serve, and what are their results? How important is photography and what is its role as a tool of social mobilisation and creator of knowledge communities? Let us take a closer look at photographs and their authors, both through the prism of the past and the most recent experiences related, for example, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

3/2022: The form-building aspects of phonography

(CFP: April 1–29, 2022)

David Bowie said that, once freed from the physical medium, music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. Twenty years later, in the era of streaming services, the artist’s vision is becoming reality. Nevertheless, tapes and records are still in the game, with increasing sales attesting to the revival of old media. Physicality has been an unquestioned feature of phonography for decades. According to Werner Faulstich, the era of medium-bound music and music storage media that have changed the functioning of music in culture started with the phonograph. The media that have come ever since, Marshall McLuhan argues, have transformed the music itself while also being influenced by it. Innovation as much as the limitations of sound storage devices have themselves become factors in the creative process, particularly in popular music. The latter relies on artistic gestures and specific media used for their specific features such as: reverse playback, shifting the disc or tape rotation speed, parallel grooves, hidden tracks, the use of recorded content in playback devices, picture discs, etc. The multi-code character of the current media (material, packaging, descriptions, graphic content) is crucial for conveying the artistic message, enriching this area of research. The physicality of music storage devices attracts both listeners and researchers. Despite its limitations, it offers a quality that cannot be found in music released and played through other media than traditional.

 

4/2022: Cultural landscapes of the post-pandemic

(CFP: July 1–29, 2022)

The pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of human life. Looking forward to its passing, can we envision the post-pandemic and virus-free world, both biologically and culturally? Multiple studies and reports are available that discuss the pandemic condition of various areas of social and individual life, including culture. From the point of view of collective life, the question about the upcoming post-pandemic landscape seems particularly interesting. ‘Post-pandemic’ is emerging as yet another concept with the prefix ‘post-‘, highlighting its, as Rosalind Krauss would say, ‘performative ambiguity’. While indicating the will to move beyond the pandemic perspective, the term still refers to it dialectically. It prompts questions whether it is still possible to come back to the pre-pandemic reality or, on the contrary, our world is changing irreversibly, and we are involuntary witnesses of this change? Isolation and distance in all aspects of human life, with virtual interactions serving as a substitute for direct contact, are increasingly recognised as key features of our times; however, inquiries into their deeper consequences for the past-pandemic life are less frequent. The very distinction between the pandemic and the post-pandemic time seems to deserve an in-depth humanistic analysis. The previous dualisms, culture – nature, tangible – intangible, private – public, real – virtual, online – offline, have been replaced by new hybrids. To what extent will our awareness of the pandemic, its course and consequences prompt the redefinition of the key world-organising concepts? Are we witnessing the emergence of a specific post-pandemic culture, with new forms of understanding what is cultural, or is it the beginning of a new chapter in the history of humankind?

 

1/2023: Excluded images

(CFP: September 1–30, 2022)

The status of excluded images and images of exclusion, originating from the parameterisation practices and strategies of the 19th and early 20th centuries and thus principally associated with the anthropometric paradigm, is nowadays increasingly affected by the (largely politicised) participation of machines. Digital cameras and mobile phones have become widespread along with new photo sharing platforms such as social media and applications. Mikko Villi argues that photographs, which can be uploaded and deleted instantly, have become an important element of personal interactions. José van Dijck highlights that the ‘visual language’ of social media has developed its own poetics, making certain images more privileged while others remain peripheral. What are the relationships between various forms of users’ communication exclusion and their social practices? Other fascinating areas related to algorithmic identity imaging include biometric identification techniques which lead to racial, ethnic and gender (features determining affective individuality) exclusion in images as well as machine imaging and its emancipatory potential. The indicated areas of research prompt questions about the specificity of visual poetics in machine imaging in terms of methods of image generating, (re)constructing and archiving: algorithmic procedures, the operation of image reconstruction software, the functionality of digital interfaces, and the material components of image storage devices.