Lecture by David Bate

David Bate: The Optics of the Data Flow
16 May, 18:00
European University in St.Petersburg

We are happy to announce that the conference After Post-Photography 4 (APP 4) will be opened with keynote lecture by David Bate. Renown as an artist, theorist and Professor at the University of Westminster (London, UK), Bate is the author of “Photography: Key Concepts” and “Photography and Surrealism: Sexuality, Colonialism and Social Dissent”. In his talk at APP4, David will discuss the role the forms, processes and aesthetics of analogue photography play under the conditions of digital photography. He also suggests that with the dominance of wide angle lenses in smartphones, the “retinal ideology of realism” depend on a new normal.

See the full program of Conference

David Bate is a photo-artist and theorist based in London, UK. His many writings include the books Photography: Key Concepts, second edition (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), Art Photography (London: Tate, 2015) and Photography and Surrealism: Sexuality, Colonialism and Social Dissent (I. B. Tauris, 2004). His photographic artworks have been exhibited internationally in solo and group exhibitions, in the UK, Ireland, Europe and North America. His photographic work Zone, set in Estonia and based on Tarkovskiy’s film Stalker was published as a photobook in 2012 (Artwords Press London). He is also a co-founding editor of Photographies journal (Routledge) and currently Professor of Photography at the University of Westminster, London, UK.

The widespread use of smart phone cameras and their associated automated processes and uploading of images online have not only intervened in how we see the world, they have also changed how we see the older forms of analogue photography. On the one hand, this disruption triggers nostalgia for a format that some have never used, whilst on the other, those same new forms provide a new format for the visioning of everyday life. What are the effects of these technologies and their shifting platforms on the human body?

As the old photographic industries (e.g. advertising, family, fashion, journalism, police surveillance, tourism and travel, and perhaps art) replicate themselves within the new digital formats and platforms they also mutate their forms and aesthetics in the process. What are the effects of these new forms and formats? How do the new formats affect the perception of what we call the world and its ideological valuation?

Framed within these contexts, this paper looks at the relation between optical technologies and human experience. Drawing on camera phone lens optics, which typically use a wide-angle lens, the paper examines the significance of this often overlooked shift towards wider-angle viewpoint as ‘normal’. In what might be called the retinal ideology of realism, the paper questions the relation of these optics to the data-flows of images. Digital camera optics, adapted from the space of monocular perspective inherited so long ago from the Renaissance and later optical theories, are interrogated as a metaphor of the changing ideological values instituted, developed and organised by human societies within digital culture.

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