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Christy Lee Rogers, “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” (2012), from “Reckless Unbound” (all images courtesy Laurence King Publishing)

Photography as medium is not dead, but you can argue it is in a contemporary state of flux. In his new book Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera, released last month by Laurence King Publishing, Robert Shore amasses 300 works by artists who are using photography in an altered state, whether it’s staged, found imagery, or claiming the digital as their own.

Cover of “Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera” (courtesy Laurence King Publishing)

“Post-photography is a moment, not a movement,” Shore writes. The book claims to be the first publication to look specifically at these artists who are now experimenting intensely with the found and distorted in the visuals of photography. Shore sets the current scene in an introductory essay:

Given the abundance of pre-existing visual material in our hyper-documented world, it’s unsurprising that an increasing amount of photographic art begins with someone else’s pictures. There’s nothing new about appropriating found imagery for fine-art purposes. But the sources, methods, and goals are fast-evolving. If digital culture has transformed photographic practice — that is, how pictures are taken and displayed — it has had no less profound an impact on how found materials are sought and then manipulated.

Each artist in the large book with its cardboard cover is given space to discuss how and why they work in a “post-photography” mode. There’s Julia Borissova delicately collaging petals on vintage photographs from the St. Petersburg flea market, along with Steffi Klenz concocting volatile chemicals on negatives of furniture she stacks on the verge of collapse. Others create their own bridges between fiction and reality, like Cristina de Middel documenting the 1960s Zambian plan to send astronauts to the moon, giving imagery to a story that lacks it. The augmentation of reality by digital means is on heavy view, especially in appropriation like Clement Valla’s Postcards from Google Earth that show highways bending at unnatural angles, revealing how the layered system of topography and aerial imagery actually works.

Photographs of paintings with their museum glares by Jorma Puranen (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Cristina De Middel, “Iko Iko” from “The Afronauts” (2011)

Cristina De Middel, “Bongo” from “The Afronauts” (2011)

Yet there are all also artists actively working outside of digital manipulation, such as Christy Lee Rogers whose photographs in the water at night of people swirled in colored clothes resemble Old Masters paintings. “My intention is to create something magical that could exist, not something that I feel people will think is fake or false,” she explains.

Back in 2011, as Shore points out in Post-Photography, the World Press Photo awards caused quite a stir when Michael Wolf got an honorable mention for his A Series of Unfortunate Events Google Street View photographs. The continued break down and manipulation of photography as it stretches beyond its definitions is likely just beginning its cascade as more and more we view the world through the digital.

Work by Brendan Flower in “Post-Photography” (photograph of the book by the author for Hyperallergic)

Nicole Belle, “Untitled,” from “Rev Sanchez” (2008)

Michael Wolf, “Tokyo Compression 17” (2010), a series on commuters on the train

Richard Mosse, “Rebel Rebel” (2010), from “Infra,” taken with Aerochrome infrared film

Benjamin Lowy, “Perspectives II: Nightvision” (2003-08), from “Iraq” taken with night-vision goggles issued by the US military

Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera by Robert Shore is available from Laurence King Publishing.

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...

13 replies on “The Camera as an Afterthought: Defining Post-Photography”

  1. The opening paragraph of this article is fraught with unnecessary modifiers and wrongly posits the artists as the amassers of 300 works rather than the book’s author, poor Robert, who actually did all the hard work of amassing. Additionally, the article on the whole is strewn with a lackadaisical passive voice, which offers no criticality (or adulation for that matter) of the art works in the book or the book itself.

    I don’t know if it’s the poor report on it or the concept itself, but “post-photography” doesn’t even seem plausible as a thing—moment, movement, or otherwise. It sounds suspiciously like contemporary photography, i.e. photographers working today using the medium in new and effective ways.

    1. I definitely didn’t want to disrespect Robert’s work. Apologies if it came across that way.

    2. Thanks for pointing out the grammatical misstep in opening—that’s been amended. As for the post, it’s not a review, more of a preview/overview about the book, hence the lack of criticality. If you’re interested in reading the book and tackling its premise in a review, let us know.

    3. “Post-photography” does seem indefinite. Maybe “Photography’s Expanded Field” is a more critically accurate term. Not new either. See George Baker, 2005: “http://www.nancydavenport.com/v2/pdfs/Photography_Expanded.pdf

  2. Also you should mention how all these works have already been connected in various exhibitions. Just because someone came up & made a book out of it plz don’t disregard all the work curators who assembled these works and exhibited them publicly before Robert Shore came along decided to make a book out of it.

  3. Thank you for this new line of photographic thought… personally, I found it very stimulating.

  4. Perhaps an additional term could be post screen/viewfinder. The new htc RE camera that resembles a tiny periscope has no viewfinder or screen, taking photos and video without being ‘in the way’. We can have our moment and photograph it, too. No more fumbling and/or self-consciousness need interrupt the rhythm of recording. I’m not saying it’s a great camera or that similar contraptions have not been invented before but this “focus on the moment, not your camera” will tweak aesthetics, histories and souls.

  5. When digital photography came into existence, I was against it. I dismissed it before I gave it a chance. Now that I use it, it aids me in my collage work where I enjoy ripping out pages from magazines I do not collect and re-presenting them as aspects of the Doodles. I know I would not have been able to afford this with film. The costs of shooting assemblages over and over as I modify them would be cost prohibitive. The experiments are the experiences.

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