Depth of Field: Practices in Contemporary Photography

WHEN: Wednesday February 6, 2pm-7pm

WHERE: Stanford Perrott Lecture Theatre (ACAD)

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Before Digital: Post 1970 Photography in Alberta, this symposium will feature presentations and panel discussions with artists participating in the exhibition as well as regional artists utilizing photography in their practice. 

2pm – 3:35pm
Continuity and Change within Photography
moderated by Mitch Kern
Over two centuries the medium of photography has endured continuous change. You could say that when it comes to photography, continuity is change. At the same time, some things about photography have remained the same. This panel explores the territory between continuity and change within photography. In particular, what is the impact of recent change upon contemporary photography practice? Has social media and 24/7 connectivity significantly altered what it means to be a photographer in the early 21st century? What about the near future? Are we on the doorstep of something new? In the midst of a revolution? A crisis?


3:50pm – 5:10pm
Capturing Subjects, Exposing Community
moderated by Ashley Scarlett
In her canonical text, On Photography, Susan Sontag asserts that “photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we’re shown a photograph of it” (1973:3). While Sontag concerns herself primarily with photography’s indexical documentation of the visible world, photographic images also have the capacity to render the invisible intelligible, lending photographic certainty to the seemingly uncertain. This panel will explore photography’s capacity to expose, envision, construct and concretize the otherwise invisible parameters of community. Specifically, it will ask: What role does photography play in capturing, documenting and attesting to community? How might the photographic medium lend itself to exposing and framing community in particular ways? What are the ethical responsibilities of the photographer within this context? And, can photographs solicit meaningful social engagement and change?


5:30pm – 6:50pm
Not Boring - Landscapes, Places and Identities
moderated by Benedict Fullalove
In his contribution to the important 1994 collection, Landscape and Power, WJT Mitchell proposes a series of theses on the genre, including the mischievous claim that “Landscape is boring. We must not say so.” This panel asks its participants to eschew silence and respond to Mitchell’s provocation. Specifically, the panel seeks to explore the complex relationships formed around and between landscapes, places and identities. What links landscape to place? How do they differ? In what sense do both intersect with broader questions of subjectivity and identity, not least in the contexts of Indigenous and Settler histories? And why is all of this (potentially!) not really boring at all?

Following the symposium, please join us for a reception at 7pm and extended gallery hours to 9pm.
*Panellists to be announced in mid-late January