Photography’s ubiquity means that it touches all realms of life. Indeed, it has arguably taken on a new and fundamental characteristic as the way that things emerge in heavily technologized societies. Violence is undoubtedly a determining category of this mode of society. Is violence, then, photographic? If so, is this a contingent fact or a necessary condition? The generality of these claims and questions means that answering them cannot be limited to one or other form or idea of the visual representation of violence. Nor can this endeavour be exhausted by reinterpreting existing photographic practices and their engagement with violence. Whilst critical approaches to representation and appeals to exemplary historical practices continue to be important, the question remains: do the debates and critical applications that have grown around them prove limited in the face of this new twist in the relationship between violence and the photographic?
What of the often made claim that photography is per se necessarily violent, insofar as it is interruptive and generally entails the assertion of one viewpoint over another? With the growing ubiquity and effectiveness of autonomous imaging apparatuses and operations, plus the networked condition of the contemporary image, the sheer scale, scope and reach of today’s photographies place all of the terms in such diagnoses into question. Do we not, at the very least, need to reassess our concrete, imaginative, historical and philosophical antecedents?
But what, in this context, is one to make of the historical force of the photographic image as a prime disruptor of inherited cultures and as a counter to imposed political order? What of the disorderly image, the iconoclastic or self-consciously violent image, not to mention historical moments of violence done to images in the name of political resistance and social critique. Can recalling such interruptive precedents help? Might it suggest that our projection of a newly refigured relationship between photography and violence harbours possibilities and promises, and not just threats? Might it open onto the imagination of newly disruptive image-entities that enable transvaluation of existing norms and offer insight into the generalised conditions of violence that face us all to a greater or lesser extent?
What would it be to take the ubiquity, scale and reach of contemporary photography seriously in, through and as violence? What does it mean to understand the photographic as co-formative of a world shaped by violence? Can rethinking photography in these terms help us to understand a violent world that we suppose ourselves to share but cannot really grasp as such? If so, how might we have to refigure existing approaches to understanding both photography and violence? And how, crucially, might one address these questions without denaturing actual violence or further co-opting its experience?
Contributions might be in the form of articles, reviews, critical commentaries on particular events or images, proposals for roundtable discussions, artworks or other kinds of intervention. We actively encourage submissions from a wide range of academic contexts and critical methodologies. We warmly welcome photographic and other artistic contributions.
The special issue will appear in Autumn 2022. The deadline for submissions is Sunday July 30th.
If you have any questions about this call for contributions, would like to discuss a possible submission or to make a proposal, please contact the editors as early as possible at: email@example.com.
More information on the journal, the journal style guide and the journal submissions portal can be found at: www.intellectbooks.com/philosophy-of-photography