British photographic history

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cfp: edited collection: Before Representation: The Camera as Actor

The photograph as a byproduct of intention does not begin with its publication. Although photographs are uniquely powerful because of their reproducibility, the specific camera equipment and its use also needs to be considered for a fuller understanding of the image. Research that focuses on camera technology will help us understand how and in what ways imaging technology impacts and forms the representation out of which we make knowledge, base our judgments, and ultimately act.

Before Representation: The Camera as Actor is an edited collection that aims to lead this conversation by bringing together scholars from various backgrounds and fields who study photographic technology in different time periods. By focusing on the camera, this edited volume builds on current literature to demonstrate the ways in which various types of imaging technology informs, elicits, and produces specific ways of seeing. Considering the photograph as a materialization resulting from a type of technology is often overlooked when thinking about the power of a photograph’s meaning. But photographs are the result of specific instruments that create powerful image extractions. A critical examination of camera technology will demonstrate the ways in which intention and imaginaries are married into facts through the potent inscription device called the camera.

Of particular interest are papers that take the camera as the object of inquiry with specific case studies about how photography has been, or is being, variously implemented and the impact it has on both social and scientific knowledge. From missile tracking to disease mapping, developing camera technology is being applied widely and variously to produce and render new and varied forms of photographic representations. Examining the types of changes that have occurred between older analogue forms and newer digital ones offers a comparative analysis about the ways in which camera choice does not simply influence the way a photograph looks, but determines which views and ideas are desired and potentially made possible.

Some questions authors might address include:

  1. How have the camera and scientific research been related? Can the instrument be separated from its evidence?
  2. Are affective qualities of the image created or enhanced through specific technologies?
  3. What knowledge has been realized specifically through camera technology? What has been foreclosed?
  4. What information has been asked from the photographic instrument?
  5. What emerging photographic technologies exist and how are they being utilized?
  6. Have changes in photographic technology ushered in new possibilities for the social?
  7. Does new photographic technology impact identity, representation or sociality in ways that vary from earlier photographic technology? If so, in what ways?

Please email Amy Cox Hall ( by October 1, 2017 with an extended abstract and brief bio for consideration. 

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