Photography: where is the medium going? Aside from the obvious technical developments, though facilitated by them, there are significant shifts in who makes a photograph and why.
For the first seventy years the medium of photography was predominantly about bringing distant things close and its leading proponents were amateurs with private means. For much of the twentieth century photography was seen as the lasting trace of a time already past. An archival object whose most illustrious makers were professionals. In the new century, photography is freed from the artefact and open to many more people not only to make pictures, but to modify and share them widely. Photography is entering its third age, the age of the pro-am.
These shifts in the production, dissemination and understanding of photography mean that we must re-evaluate and reconceptualise our ideas about what constitutes our public visual culture. To do this fairly and effectively we must think with open minds, and be prepared to let go of comfortable habits and cherished beliefs; we must engage with the world as it is and as it is becoming. Together.
Dr. Alasdair Foster is a writer, curator and researcher based in Australia but working worldwide. He is Adjunct Professor in the School of Art of RMIT University, Melbourne and a member of the university’s Contemporary Art, Society and Transformation research group. He is also Ambassador to the Asia-Pacific PhotoForum – a group of festivals in the wider region – and a founding member of the Red Internacional de Centros de Fotografía. He initiates intercultural photography and visual art projects around the world, especially in Asia and the Pacific Rim, and pursues his post-doctoral research into the democratisation of the arts.