Since our 2012 inaugural issue STREULICHT – Magazine for Photography and Related Matters has devoted itself to addressing the fringes of photography – we think these deserve more attention because they are very often the source of the most exciting and thrilling impulses.
We are less concerned, in our sixth and final issue of this publication series, with glancing speculatively into the future of photography – a future we are living at this very moment.
In past issues we prospectively outlined themes that offered a critical perspective and versatile vocabulary for an awareness and revaluation of processes that are already in progress. The paradigm shift in image production techniques continue to be incomplete, and thus comparisons and analogies continue to exist because of its simultaneity. To see and to photograph has become a (daily) ritual, a gesture, and has simultaneously constituted and undermined new forms of cultural commemoration and memory. The exchangeability and rapid circulation of these images has furthermore raised doubts – how do we handle these images, to what do they refer? What do they rule out? Be they selfies, streams, or street views, photography and its various perceptions are subject to a different form of technical nature, by virtue of the fact that the customary original analog "communicability" of the photographic material – the print, the camera, the light – has been replaced by a new immediacy and synchronicity: New digital techniques have facilitated the production of images that can be communicated and shared within a few seconds; images that are seen, mounted, shared and decayed. At the same time, the use of filters and apps on these images oftentimes reference older photographic techniques or otherwise estrange the images from their original states by virtue of ever declining image quality, or through becoming what Hito Steyerl calls "poor images." Photography becomes an image of itself, referring to nothing and standing on its own as a subject, an act, incomplete, fragmented and fragile. Yet it is still the "power of images," the "image wars and storms" that elucidates the efficacy of the visual, which appears to be unbroken in this time of visual capitalism. And thus the question "what are (photographic) images?" transforms to who they actually are. 1
What consequences will transpire from the inflationary use of photography? Perhaps photography is so ubiquitous and encompassing that it no longer holds up as an aesthetic category. What social and psychological implications does the act of photographing activate? How does the availability of photography-related media alter our memory, our commemoration,, and our quotidian life? How do our contemporary typologies define all that has past in what Michel Frizot describes as a "retroactive" perspective? What consequences do pictures without mediums hold, pictures whose independent existence is detached from a finite material? What does it mean for pictures to be dependent on an external source of power? How is the photographic act transposed onto other areas of art? Who defines our present time, in which post-photography is indeed a point of discussion, but interpreted as a direction or a movement rather than as a new school? How do interior images intermingle with exterior images? In does this stand to the kind of hybrids that attempt to visualize our desires primarily through new media and its design capabilities? What lies beyond photography?
Today, STREULICHT N°6 Photography – Beyond Photography. A Preview Glance into the Present Day will discuss fow and where these new horizons have already manifested themselves.
1 W. J. T. Mitchell's book Picture Theory (University of Chicago Press, 1995) offers a thorough discussion of this differentiation in the analysis on visual discourses.