Lecture 5: Photography in the Expanded Field

During this lecture, we were questioning what the medium photography is in the wake of digitisation. Is there an expansion of traditional notions of photography?

It was also to show us how you can take a body of work and analyse it when thinking of our dissertations.

The main theory we looked at was expanded field by George Baker. Baker refers to photography as an art medium.

Rosalind Krauss is also discussed in relation to medium specificity and her theory that it has been ‘abandoned’ and ‘spells the death of serious art.’ (Krauss, 2010).

Rosalind Krauss, Perpetual Inventory, Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010, pp.xiii-xiv.

George Baker –

  • ‘Everywhere one looks today in the world of contemporary art, the photographic object seems to be an object in crisis, or at least in severe transformation’
  • George Baker, ‘Photography’s Expanded Field’, October, 114, Fall 2005, p.121.

There is not just a shift, but photography is in crisis and that there is a new importance in art.

The first photographer mentioned is Sherrie Levine and After Walker Evans no.4, 1981.

  • Work shows a shift away from artist as maker, rather representing work/copying. Playing with the idea of authorship.

Next we explored different photographers that have used an expansion to photography.

References to Andy Warhol, 5 Deaths, 1963  and Jean-Luc Godard, Weekend, 1967.

Ingrid Hölzl

‘With digital image processing, post-production has become the principal site of photographic image production, where recorded and calculated images are merged into what I will call augmented documents. The augmented document emphasises not only the hybrid temporality of contemporary society but also the hybrid temporality of its representation, displaying a possible present where different space–times coexist’.

Ingrid Hölzl ‘Blast-off Photography’, History of Photography, Feb 2011.

  • Need to expand what photography is.

Nancy Davenport, WORKERS (Leaving the Factory), 2005-8.

Allan Sekula, Fish Story, 1996.

  • Same subject (globalisation) but staying with traditional documentary.
  • Artists able to work with subjects without using major production.


Andreas Gursky, Montparnasse, 1993.

  • Embracing post production.


Philip-Lorca diCorcia, New York, 1993.

  • Recoded with cinema technology. Tableau but street not cinema.


David Claerbout, Vietnam 1967, near Duc Pho (reconstruction after Hiromishi Mine), 2001. Single channel video projection.

  • Large tableau, are prjections with slight movement.


Based on C-7 Caribou aircraft hit by friendly fire, Vietnam, August 1967.


  • Hybrid. Gives a sense of time.

Sharon Lockhart, Goshogaoka, 1997. (details)


  • Looks like sport. Shot against black background.
  • Staged but looks spontaneous.
  • Combining sport and art.
  • Lighting style comes from paintings.

Gabriel Orozco, Yielding Stone, 1992.

  • Images and object (plasticine) history of object.
  • Asterisms, 2012.
  • Collect waste objects washed up from New York and Mexico. Embodiment, tactile and seeing. Expansion of photography. Relationship between USA and Mexico.
Gabriel Orozco, Yielding Stone, 1992.
Gabriel Orozco, Asterisms, 2012

Rachel Harrison, Valid like Salad, 2012. Mixed media.

  • Photography and sculpture. What we mean by medium and expanding. Image incorporated into it.


Thomas Demand, Control Room, 2011.

  • Sculpture, destroys it after photograph. Final photograph is all that’s left of the sculpture. Expand in term of space. Materiality.

Erin Shirreff, Signatures, 2011.

  • 3D quality due to the light. Coming from different media.


Erin Shirreff, Lake, 2012.


Erin Shirreff, UN, 2010.

Kelly Richardson, The Erudition, 2011 (video installation)

Heather and Ivan Morison: Dark Star, 2009.

  • Moving image and still image.
  • Made at a travelers site – new age.
  • Related to alien abductions UFO sightings.
  • http://vimeo.com/52501604


Shannon Ebner, USA, 2003, from the series ‘Dead Democracy Letters’, 2002-6.

  • Interested in the relationship between image and language. Makes political statements.
  • Abuse of American Dream.
  • Inserted into LA, iconic landscapes, cinema sets.



Robert Frank, from the series The Americans, 1959.

  • Iconic take on American commercial and consumerist culture. Decline of American Dream.



  • Backwards Hollywood sign and sunset. Clique image.

Essential Reading:
Baker, George, ‘Photography’s Expanded Field’, October 114, Fall 2005, pp.120-140.


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