British photographic history

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Seminar: History and Theory of Photography Research Centre / Spring 2018

In 1968, less than a year after it first became possible to produce holograms of people, Bruce Nauman began to work on two series of holographic self-portraits. Nauman made these luminous, intangible, three-dimensional images of his body during a period in art’s history that is closely associated with the notion of dematerialisation. This paper uses Nauman’s holograms to interrogate the significance of materiality and tangibility in Anglo-American sculptural aesthetics at the end of the 1960s. Although the holograms can be aligned with the apparent move towards the dematerialisation of the sculptural object, this paper shows how their subsequent reception has been shaped by their particular materiality. Ultimately, it argues that Nauman’s holograms hold in suspension a commitment to both the values of modern sculpture and a negation of sculptural corporeality.

6 February 2018, 6:00-7:30pm

Keynes Library (room 114)

Elizabeth Johnson (Associate Research Fellow, Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology, Birkbeck)

The Touch of Light: Bruce Nauman’s Holograms.

Image: Bruce Nauman, ‘hologram a’, from the series Making Faces, 1968.

History and Theory of Photography Research Centre

All events free and open to all, at 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD



9 March – 28 April 2018 

Peltz Gallery

Cultural Sniping: Photographic Collaborations in the Jo Spence Memorial Library Archive

An exhibition curated by Patrizia Di Bello and Frances Hatherley, with Christie Johnson, Hazal Özdemir, Leanne Petersen, Lucy Purcell, Linda Robins da Silva, Manohari Saravanamuttu, Elka Smith, Helen Walker and Chloe Wood

This exhibition showcases important materials from the archive of the late Jo Spence, British photographer, writer, and self-described 'cultural sniper', tracing links and collaborations in activist art, radical publications, community photography and phototherapy from the 1970s and 1980s. Consistent with Spence's ethos of radical pedagogy, this exhibition focuses on her collaborative working methods. It opens up the archive to provide insights into Spence's practices and the culture, politics and activism informing them.

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