Unthinking Photography is an online resource that explores photography's increasingly automated, networked life.

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A cold draught in a hot medium

February 2019

"Images now published on social media are valorised in terms of distribution and quantifiable interactions, particularly when triangulated with data about a user’s online purchases or social media behaviour. This process shapes visual representations of human identities into ‘data images’ outside the control of the person the data originates from. These identity images, or profiles, are bought and sold without our knowing, and provide more insight into our behaviour and motivations than we perhaps have ourselves"...

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The Windshield and the Screen

February 2019

"A Google Street View car in Los Angeles once captured a picture of Leonard Cohen. It happened a couple of years before he died. He was sitting with an acquaintance on lawn chairs outside his modest home in the Mid-Wilshire neighbourhood. The driver was an accidental paparazzi. Cohen didn’t even notice him. (...) Google Street View isn’t photography as aesthetic representation, but the production of leftovers that happen to be images. These images are the husk — the dead skin of a surveillance charade. This archive can be fascinating and even useful to spectators—the users of it. But this data created and cleaned at scale is a source of Google’s power"...

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Nonhuman Photography: An Interview with Joanna Zylinska [PART II]

February 2019

In this second excerpt of her interview with Andrew Dewdney, Joanna Zylinska talks about representation and post-photography while she reflects on archival as well as institutional practices in the age of the Anthropocene. As she mentions: "I am trying to develop sets of relations between images and practices across time, across species, across technologies, and identify certain old tropes that are returning today. I would like to think that my mode of looking, which involves placing images along those deep-historical lines, is also a way of showing why photography matters".

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Nonhuman Photography: An Interview with Joanna Zylinska [PART I]

February 2019

Andrew Dewdney interviews Joanna Zylinska for Unthinking Photography, on the occasion of her recent publication ‘Nonhuman Photography’ (MIT Press, 2017). We are publishing here two excerpts from the conversation while the full interview is available to download as a pdf. In this first part, the discussion unpacks the notion of the nonhuman in image culture.

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Generative Representation

December 2018

For the past six years Heather Dewey-Hagborg has been researching, writing and producing artwork engaging the methodology of ‘forensic DNA phenotyping’. In this essay, she explores a different aspect of this technology and questions: is forensic DNA phenotyping a photographic process?

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First as Snapshot, then as Decentralised Digital Asset

October 2018

In the age of ubiquitous connectivity and seemingly limitless cloud-based storage capabilities, all photographers, whether as amateurs, artists, or professionals, face new and difficult questions regarding their work’s afterlife, which have continued to gain in importance over the last years: what becomes of digital photographs once they begin to circulate online, how can the rights of their creators be protected, and how should the constant churn of online photographs be controlled? In early 2018, Eastman Kodak Company announced that it was about to provide a solution to these difficult issues.

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Biomedical Astronomy

October 2018

At the northern end of London’s Tottenham Court Road, a state of the art proton beam therapy centre is being built by University College London Hospitals. The hoardings around the site feature familiar images of patients and medical staff; but this most intimate and molecular life-saving technology itself is represented by a graphic of a glowing orb shot through with the kind of blue plasma that wouldn’t look out of place in Star Wars. Danny Birchall questions, has the sublime returned from technology to nature, through technology’s ability to show us what cannot otherwise be seen inside ourselves?

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Cat Photographers (or the desire to see through animal eyes)

January 2018

..In recent years, thanks to inexpensive, lightweight digital cameras that can be fastened to a collar and programmed to take photographs at regular intervals, a number of ‘photographer cats’ have even attained minor-celebrity status. Two of the most famous, Cooper, an American Shorthair living in Seattle, and Nancy Bean, a three-legged puss from Devon, have held successful exhibitions of their work in art galleries and attracted significant mainstream media attention.

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The War and Peace of LOLcats

January 2018

LOLcats here are the digital people’s fairy tales on the subject of animals, and, more precisely, cats, following a formulaic structure in their making. LOLcats, as natively digitally born aesthetic, acts exhibit features that are shaped in their succinct coherence by their processes of coming into being, by the ways in which LOLcats emerge and live on the networks.

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Somebody else's cat: A study in the protohistory of the internet cat meme

January 2018

"Like many viral phenomena, the Somebody else's cat group began by accident in the context of a specific online community, the image hosting site Flickr". This text by Dr Loplop explores the emergence of the internet cat meme and the influence of online communities in the development of this protohistory.

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