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Seductions and flirtations: photographs, histories, theories

Di Bello, Patrizia (2008) Seductions and flirtations: photographs, histories, theories. Photographies 1 (2), pp. 143-155. ISSN 1754-0763.

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Despite much having been written on the subject, a stable theorization of photographic meaning seems as elusive as ever. Can - and should - theory be useful to explain photographs and to understand photography? Taking the concept of the index as one example, this paper proposes a model in which theories, as much as photographs, are situated in the specific historic circumstances of their being made, used, reproduced and circulated within a culture. In this model, the relationship between photography and theory can be understood as reciprocal; one in which actual photographs can inform and transform theories as much as being explained by them. This is only possible, however, if we attend to photographs in their material circumstances, embedded in social and bodily practices that themselves can be understood as a way to “theorize” photography. This is not to suggest that the processes of signification can thus be fixed or reduced to a main one, but that, rather than being seduced by theory, we should embrace the flirtatiousness of photographs, never yielding to one conclusive and stable meaning; and learn to flirt back.

Item Type: Article
School: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Arts > History of Art
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2010 15:50
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 09:43

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