Anatomy of Photography: Extracts 1982-2004

In the first publication of this work celebrated writer and critic Julian Stallabrass shows extracted text and images, taken from a much longer project intended to make sense of a photographer’s relation to the world. The piece was originally conceived as a book but has also been shown as a projection of photographs with a voice-over.

Anatomy of Photography: Extracts 1982-2004

The latent image that formed the basis for these words was first imprinted on my mind at a time of illness. Running a high fever for weeks, the heat of the blood had scrambled memories, dreams, thoughts and imaginings so that they became present all at once, like images etched on overlapping panes of glass.

Still Life

How much is the fascination with photography caused by qualities which closely mirror the play of persistent illusions under capitalism? If people are treated like things, and things take on the liveliness and character of people, if people’s liveliness is constantly sacrificed to the production of things, then the action of photography is an ever-present metaphor for this process. Similarly, in lives governed by the invisible (by the rise and fall of stock, for example, where, to put it at its most material, the flow of electrons governs the ability of bodies to sustain themselves), photography’s equation of shade and substance seems fitting. So often in pictures people appear as zombies, unaware of each other, each driven by some single, basic principle to feed or shop. Whatever moves in photographs is pinned down within their frames, and what of its own accord can never move looks as if it might. Dancers are seized with instant rigor mortis but wooden tables may at any second begin to caper.

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Published in Photoworks Issue 4, 2005 – Anatomy of Photography: Extracts 1982-2004
Commissioned by Photoworks

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