Join us for the launch of our latest co-publication with NAMU Apparitions: Photography and Dissemination and a lecture by author Geoffrey Batchen at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. 



An engaging and provocative account of photography’s first commercial applications in England and their global implications. This book addresses a persistent gap in the study of photography’s history, moving beyond an appreciation of single breakthrough works to consider the photographic image’s newfound reproducibility and capacity for circulation through newsprint and other media in the nineteenth century. Batchen asks:

“Can we now devise a history for photography built around the logic of movement and transformation, migration and dissemination, rather than that of origin and singularity? Can we at last abandon the familiar safety of a history restricted to the photograph alone, and allow the structure of our narratives to emulate the sometimes illicit flow back and forth across boundaries and identities that has always characterised both the photographic image and modern life and culture? Writing a story worthy of this dynamic—a history for photography rather than a history of photographs—is, I believe, the challenge that historians like me now face. This book is a fledgling attempt to take up that challenge.”


Image: Harrison Weir (engraver), Stuffed cats—from Wirtemburg.—from a daguerreotype by Claudet, 1851, in Illustrated London News, 26 July 1851, p.133. Ink-on-paper print from wood engraving after a daguerreotype by Antoine Claudet studio (London). Courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.



Photo historian Geoffrey Batchen presents the lecture ‘Light and dark: a little history of the negative’. One of the distinctive characteristics of photography is the fact that most analogue photographs are positive prints made from a negative. However the negative is often regarded as a secondary entity by critics and scholars, if it is discussed at all. This talk offers a condensed history of the negative, looking at work by a range of practitioners, including William Henry Fox Talbot, Man Ray, Dorothea Lange, Richard Avedon and Andreas Gursky. Learn about the ways the negative complicates our understanding of the photograph through this fascinating exploration of its role.



6:00–8:30pm, Wednesday 9 October 2019
Centenary Auditorium
Art Gallery NSW
$15 adult
$12 member/concession

Ticket includes an invitation to the launch of Geoffrey Batchen’s new book Apparitions: Photography and Dissemination at the Gallery following this lecture. The book will be available for discounted purchase with book signing. Light refreshments provided. Book your ticket here.


Image: Ebenezer Landells et al. (engraver, England), London in 1842, taken from the summit of the Duke of York’s Column (north view), 1842, in Illustrated London News, 30 July 1842. Ink-on-paper print from wood engraving after daguerreotypes by Antoine Claudet taken in 1842, 29.5 × 117.0 cm. Courtesy of Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.


Geoffrey Batchen’s work has played a central role in redefining photographic studies. His current research makes another important contribution, shifting our attention from a semiotics of the image to use. In taking the earliest photography as his example, Batchen demonstrates that photography has always been entwined with other reproductive forms and the standard histories have isolated special images at the cost to the real dynamics of production and circulation.

—Steve Edwards, Professor of History & Theory of Photography, Birkbeck


Batchen has an extraordinary capacity to develop complex new ideas and to present them persuasively. He is without peer in making the history of photography a dynamic, compelling subject.

—Helen Ennis, Emeritus Professor, Centre for Art History and Art Theory, Australian National University


Geoffrey Batchen teaches art history at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. His books include Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997), Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (2001), Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance (2004), William Henry Fox Talbot (2008), Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (2010) and Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph (2016). Batchen has also curated exhibitions for the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the National Media Museum in Bradford, UK, the International Center of Photography in New York, the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne, the Izu Photo Museum in Shizuoka, Japan, the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik, the Adam Art Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand and the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne. In January 2020, Batchen will be taking up the professorship of art history at Oxford University in the UK.



RRP $35.00 AUD
ISBN 978-0-909952-80-8
74 colour illustrations
Approx. 220 pp
250 x 176 mm
377 gms

The book was co-published by Power Publications and NAMU, the publishing house of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.


Apparitions: Photography and Dissemination at