Geoffrey Batchen - Double Displacement: The Dissemination of the Photographic Image
Created: 17. 3. 2016 from Vysoká škola uměleckoprůmyslová v Praze

Academy of Art, Architecture & Design in Prague presents


Geoffrey Batchen (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

Double Displacement: The Dissemination of the Photographic Image



5. 4. 2016 lecture at 6.30 p.m.

Academy of Art, Architecture & Design in Prague
nám. Jana Palacha 80, Prague 1
2nd floor, room 115



In the context of both the dematerialisation of the digital image and a refugee crisis in Europe and elsewhere, this paper will trace an early history for the photographic image as an entity continually being displaced from any given origin point. Focusing on the establishment of photography as a business in the 1840s, and in particular on the distribution of the work of Antoine Claudet in London and Douglas Kilburn in Melbourne, I will examine the manner by which their daguerreotype images were widely disseminated in the form of engravings and lithographs, both in the illustrated press and as stand-alone pictures. Such an examination makes possible a better understanding of the commercial activities of photography studios in this period, and of how photographic images actually reached their multiple audiences. But it also allows some reflection on the nature of the photographic image itself, as a kind of immaterial, ghostly presence made possible only by a double displacement, first from the world and then from the photograph. This paper will therefore be a contribution to a study of the lived experience of the processes of reproduction, as theorised by Walter Benjamin, and dissemination, as articulated by Jacques Derrida, and may even constitute a kind of ‘migration theory’ for photography as a medium of representation.


Professor Geoffrey Batchen teaches art history at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, specializing in the history of photography. His books include Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997), Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (2001), Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance (2004), William Henry Fox Talbot (2008), What of Shoes? Van Gogh and Art History (2009), Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (2010) and More Wild Ideas (forthcoming in Chinese, 2015). He has also edited Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida (2009) and co-edited Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (2012). In April 2016, his exhibition, Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph, will open at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand. A book with the same title will be published by Prestel.

Opening remarks by Karel Císař