What if the history of photography was ultimately less a history of recorded images than a history of images composed from recorded elements? The rise of assemblages and hybridisation practices in digital cultures prompts us to ask this question. What we today call memes juxtaposes elements that are willingly heterogeneous and whose contrast typically produces satirical effects. In another realm, we notice the proliferation of automatic image generation software that synthesises and combines real or fictional elements with a strong photorealistic charge, sometimes using deep learning technologies. Between these two poles, there’s a need to examine the wide range of practices which overturn the idea of photography as a capture of the real.
These shifts in the notion of photography are not, however, solely due to the rise of digital technology. They draw on a long history of the composite image that we intend to develop in the 7th issue of the journal Transbordeur. Talking about composite images rather than “photomontages” allows us to turn away from a narrative influenced mainly by the twentieth-century avant-gardes (Dadaism, Constructivism, Surrealism), and to broaden our point of view beyond the field of art. The modern Western discourse using the industrial metaphor of the mechanical assemblage of pre-existing elements does not cover all the ranges of photographic manipulation.
For this issue edited by Laura Truxa, Max Bonhomme and Christian Joschke, we are therefore looking for contributions that examine the relevance of the notion of “composite images” for the history and theory of photography, as well as in the wider field of visual and media studies. Particular emphasis will be placed on the tools and practices of the image, so as to question the limits between retouching and editing, including software such as Photoshop, which plays a central role in our contemporary visual culture. Papers may address one of the following themes, though this should not be taken as exhaustive: 1) Gestures, professions and techniques of composite images; 2) Uses of composite images: production of knowledge and prospective representations; 3) Play and satire at the origin of photographic compositions.
The full CFP can be downloaded here.
Abstracts must be sent to Laura Truxa (firstname.lastname@example.org), Max Bonhomme (email@example.com) and Christian Joschke (firstname.lastname@example.org) before September 15th 2021.