Lecture 6: The Editor as Author

What to do in a world full of images (philosophical question). Photographer, curator, art director, graphic designer, all different kinds of practices.

David Campany, Rich and Strange, Chopped Liver Press, 2012 (edition of 100 copies)
Photographer Unknown, Press agency print, London, 1932

  • Details of one photograph
  • Anonymous photographer who took the image.
  • Has Alfred Hitchcock in it.
  • Found at a market.
  • Has lots of information.

Gasoline published by MACK, 2013

  • 1979 waiting for gas, relation to work politics.
  • First half images, last half backs of the images previously shown.
  • Image used for ad campaign for movie streaming sight.

‘…in a world in which we are entertained from cradle to grave, whether we like it or not, the ability to rework image and dialogue … may be the key to both psychic and political health.’

Colin MacCabe, Godard: a portrait of the artist at 70, 2004

  • Philosophical montage
  • Copied movie clips – no copyright for video at the time.

Marcel Duchamp – urinal placed as object and titled it Fountain called it an example of his ‘Readymades’.
Art selection/nomination – challenged idea of craft (first artist to be unoriginal)
Ontological question – “what is art?”
First one has been lost. Alfred Steiglitz photographed it, the photograph appeared in the journal ‘Blind Man’.

Can a photograph be ‘Readymade’ in the same way?

Jeff Wall essays – thinks not. Depiction, Object, Event, 2006.
Thinks that photography is artwork to begin with, believes it can’t be readymade.

Duchamp described his 1919 altered reproduction of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as an ‘assisted readymade’.
– Reproduction and adds to it.
– Wall didn’t think it’s an assisted readymade, believes a readymade is physically moving something from one place to another.

Ed Ruscha, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1962

Ruscha framed them simply, in the middle distance. It was perfunctory subject matter, recorded perfunctorily. Some have called it ‘deadpan’ or ‘de- skilled’. Ruscha saw his pictures as “an extension of Marcel Duchamp’s Readymade in photographic form”. Their style, or anti-style made them look as if they might have been real estate photos or snapshots found and reused. No poetry, no expression, no comment, just plain visual statements. “The photography by itself doesn’t mean anything to me; it’s the gas

station that’s the important thing”


  • Snapshots, anonymous and boring as the gasoline stations themselves.
  • “Extension of readymade”

Mike Mandel & Larry Sultan, Evidence (book 1977, reissued 2003)
The artists looked through 1.5 million images in police, medical, scientific, industrial and fire department archives. 59 were stripped of any accompanying text and arranged in a classic-looking photo book (one to a spread, no text).

  • Number two in Source Magazines list of best photography books.

1981 Sherrie Levine After Walker Evans. Photographs already famous in art history.
No alterations, best reproduction she can find.
Walker Evans First and Last, 1978. Evans labelled as modern master – among many white men taking images of poverty. Commissioned, four portraits of Allie Mae Burroughs. One belongs to Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. USA.
All versions in circulation.

1938, Walker Evans, American Photographs
– Need to be read in sequence – has a specific arrangement.
– One image per spread. Representation of representation. World full of images. Artless, documentation – straight forward.
– Installation in 1938, locked himself in the gallery to change the arrangement of the images as they were done wrong.

Doug Rickard, A New American Picture.
– Title reference to Robert Frank, etc.
– In relation to Mishka Henner’s No Man’s Land, around the same time.
– Addition of 100
– Interested in the history of photography.
– Google Street View selections as ‘street photography.
– Not in control of timing – not ‘decisive moment’.
– Can choose framing and place.
– 35mm shot of flat screen computer. See dots, sense how it was made.
– One image to a page.

Found Photos in Detroit by Arianna Arcara and Luca Santese, Cesura Publishing, 2012.

“We found these photos on the streets of Detroit. We took them and started to sift between the thousands of Polaroids, letters, prints of photographic evidence, police documents, mugshots and family albums. This is a selection of the archive Found photos in Detroit 2009-2010. “

  • City of ruins.
  • Images found in Police Stations – been shut down.
  • Frames made individually for each set of images when exhibited.

The Significant Savages book by Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine

“The book exploits an arbitrary selection of Facebook profile images in which alternative artefacts are represented instead of the person: seascapes, forests; dogs and horses and cats; cars, bikes or fancy boats; cities, socks and shells, galaxies.”

(publisher’s website blurb. RVB Books)

  • Peoples Facebook profile pictures, but not of themselves.

Album Pacifica book by Mohini Chandra, 2002.

  • Gathered photographs from family albums from all around the world.
  • Back of the pictures.
  • Printed actual size.
  • Exhibited in two different ways. 1. Cloud, domestic frames, feels withholding. 2. Large prints, scanned and blown up.

Killed by William E. Jones

a book of censored photographs from the Farm Security Administration archive (1930s). Roy Stryker, director of the FSA photography project had many negatives ‘killed’ with a hole punch. But not destroyed.They remain in the archive. Jones publishes these images for the first time.The project began as a search for signs of gay culture in 1930s America but soon expanded.

  • What was he objecting to? Not destroyed entirely.
  • Scanned at high resolution, team scanned them all.

Holy Bible by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, MACK Book, 2013

“Right from the start, almost every appearance he made was catastrophic… Catastrophe is his means of operation, and his central instrument of governance.’
Adi Ophir, ‘Divine Violence’ (included in the back of the book)

  • Bible re-written several times. Downloaded PDF of Bible. Images over the text.
  • Cambridge University owns the rights.
  • Violence of text, archive of modern conflict.
  • Printed the book to look like the Bible.
  • Lots of interviews on it.

Essential reading:

Blake Stimson, The Pivot of the World (MIT Press, 2007). See especially Stimson’s introduction (on Blackboard) as well as the chapter on Robert Frank’s book The Americans.


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