On Tuesday 15 March, photography historian Professor Geoffrey Batchen gives a Power Lecture on photography as an entity of continual displacement, examined particularly through early photographic practices and the work of Antoine Claudet and Douglas Kilburn.



In light of both the dematerialisation of the digital image and the current refugee crisis in Europe and elsewhere, Professor Batchen’s paper will trace an early history of the photographic image as an entity continually being displaced from any given origin point. Focusing on the establishment of photography as a business in the 1840s, and in particular on the distribution of the work of Antoine Claudet in London and Douglas Kilburn in Melbourne, Batchen will examine the manner by which their daguerreotype images were widely disseminated in the form of engravings and lithographs, both in the illustrated press and as stand-alone pictures. Through such an examination, it becomes possible to develop a better understanding of the commercial activities of photography studios in this period, and of how photographic images actually reached their multiple audiences. It also allows some reflection on the nature of the photographic image itself, as a kind of immaterial, ghostly presence made possible only by a double displacement, first from the world and then from the photograph. Batchen’s paper will therefore be a contribution to the study of the lived experience of the processes of reproduction, as theorised by Walter Benjamin, and dissemination, as articulated by Jacques Derrida, and may even constitute a kind of ‘migration theory’ for photography as a medium of representation.



Professor Geoffrey Batchen teaches art history at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, specialising in the history of photography. 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), What of Shoes? Van Gogh and Art History (2009), Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (2010) and More Wild Ideas (2015). He has also edited Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes’s ‘Camera Lucida’ (2009) and co-edited Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (2012). In April 2016 his exhibition Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph will open at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand. A book with the same title will be published by Prestel.



This is a free public lecture with online registration essential. For venue information and to register your attendance, please click here.