Photographic History Research Centre Postgraduate Symposium

Analogue Photography in the New Media Age
One-day postgraduate symposium to be held on 22 April 2014 in the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University, Leicester (UK)

Plenary lecture: Professor David Frohlich (University of Surrey)

Deadline for paper proposals:
Monday, 27 January 2014

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Analogue Photography in the New Media Age will explore the social and aesthetic appeal of resuscitating analogue photographic practices in a digital world. Recent decades have seen the emergence of photographic practices and technologies that have resuscitated either historical image-making techniques or merely the visual properties of analogue photographs. Some of these practices make use of actual analogue processes as alternatives to the digital means of photographic production readily available at present. Others utilise the digital technologies and platforms designed to support the production of photographic imagery whose appearance connotes the aesthetics of analogue photographs. Either way, a tendency to recreate or replicate the visual and physical characteristics of analogue photographs appears to be prevalent amongst amateur and professional practitioners alike.

While scholarly literature on this subject appears scanty, eclectic popular sources provide a number of possible reasons to explain the increasing number of analogue and analogue-looking photographs produced in the new media age. Some believe it is a nostalgic reaction to the rapid transformation of photographs into virtual ephemeral images,that are hyperrealistic and thereby removed from reality itself. Others claim it is the product of digital natives’ curiosity about what they interpret as obsolete technologies and the aesthetics of past times. According to another view, the tangibility of analogue processes and the ability to modify realistic representations by digital means make users feel in control of the mechanical and digital means of photographic production, as well as involved in the materialisation of photographic images and objects. In line with this perception, it is suggested that digital natives understand the physicality of analogue processes as the difference between amateur and professional practice.

It would seem that, in fact, this return to the analogue defines digital photography, its benefits, conventional uses and also its limits and limitations. The one-day postgraduate symposium will foster an interdisciplinary approach to the investigation of the current trend of returning to or reinterpreting analogue photography. It aims to address a diverse range of environments in which photographs are produced, disseminated or displayed to include, for example, social media, art galleries and museums, educational activities, photographic societies, camera clubs, and others.

We welcome proposals for papers that use interdisciplinary research methods to investigate the utilisation of photographic analogue techniques or aesthetics in relation to the period stretching from the creation of digital photographic technologies in the 1950s to the present day. We are in particular interested in papers that present an empirically grounded analysis of such practices, obtained either through oral histories, ethnographies, systematic observation and analysis, methodical investigations of marketing materials, or any other methodologies.

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Abstracts should be sent via email to Dr Gil Pasternak gpasternak@dmu.ac.uk by Monday, 27th of January 2014. Submissions should be of 300 words in Microsoft Word or PDF format, and include your name, title, email address, academic position and affiliation. Successful applications will be allotted 25 minutes to present their papers and another 20 minutes to take questions and open up their research to broader discussions. While we accept proposals from scholars of any academic level, postgraduate students and practitioners are in particular encouraged to apply. Applicants must propose new and original research; selected contributors may be given the opportunity to extend their papers, and prepare them for academic publication.

Plenary lecture:
Re-inventing the family album
Prof David Frohlich
Director, Digital World Research Centre
School of Arts, University of Surrey, UK

Abstract: Photographic practice has changed radically in recent years with the digitization of image capture and sharing technologies. One consequence of this has been a decline in the materiality of photographs, as experienced through loose prints and photograph albums. In this talk, I draw on a new history of analogue and digital photography to illustrate the birth and possible death of the family album, alongside recent technology developments that could re-invent the album in various ways (Sarvas & Frohlich 2011). These include networked photo displays for dynamic image collections, digital scrapbooking and media crafting systems, and augmented paper.

[Sarvas R. & Frohlich D.M. (2011) From snapshots to social media: The changing picture of domestic photography. Springer]

David Frohlich is Director of Digital World Research Centre at the University of Surrey and Professor of Interaction Design. He joined the Centre in January 2005 to establish a new research agenda on user-centred innovation in digital media technology. Prior to joining Digital World, David worked for 14 years as a senior research scientist at HP Labs, conducting user studies to identify requirements and test new concepts for mobile, domestic and photographic products. David has a PhD in psychology from the University of Sheffield and post-doctoral training in Conversation Analysis from the University of York. He has also held visiting positions at the Royal College of Art, Universities of York and Manchester and is founding editor of the international journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing.

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