Nonhuman Photography: Dispatches from the End of the World – Lecture by Joanna Zylinska
Today, in the age of CCTV, drone media, and satellite imaging, photography is increasingly decoupled from human agency and human vision. It can also literally see the end of the world. The conception of “nonhuman photography” proposed in the talk will thus expand the human-centric idea of photography to embrace imaging practices from which the human is absent: from the contemporary high-tech examples provided by traffic control cameras, space photography, and Google Earth, through to deep-time impression-making processes such as fossilization. The Anthropocene, understood as a global ecological-economic crisis in which the human is said to have become a geological agent, will frame the analysis to highlight the interweaving of the photographic medium with chemistry, minerals, fossil fuels, and the sun—but also with us humans. By examining a number of visual projects, including some from Joanna Zylinska’s own practice, she will argue that the Anthropocene becomes visible to us through altered light, and through the particulate matter reflected in it. She will also suggest that photography can allow us humans to “unsee” ourselves from our own narcissistic parochialism, and to imagine a more ecological vision of selfhood.