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Photography Network 2021 Virtual Symposium
The Material and the Virtual in Photographic Histories

The First Symposium of the Photography Network will be held virtually, jointly hosted by the Photography Network and Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen.

Over the last twenty years, the study of photography’s history has been characterized by, among other things, two opposing strands: a concentration on the photograph’s status as an object and a concern with the decidedly virtual quality of its images and practices. The 2019 FAIC conference “Material Immaterial: Photographs in the 21sst Century” considered these two directions in photographic conservation, asking if the physical photograph still matters today as a source of teaching, learning, and scholarship when the intangibles of code now direct the production and archiving of images. Now, from a methodological direction, this Photography Network symposium seeks to inquire further into the historical implications of the increasing distance between photography’s status as an object and its life as what could be called the intangible “photographic.”

Given this consistent cleavage, the symposium asks; Where do the object-based and the virtual meet in photography’s histories? How can these two strands in photo studies be brought together and harnessed to reconsider existing problems or launch new investigations?
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