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Interview
We have to be careful not to project a nostalgic glow onto the past, as if magic can only be found there and not in our own moment.

His long-standing interest in the history of early photography makes Geoffrey Batchen the appropriate speaker to discuss the question of photographic magic. Therefore, our conversation oscillates between magic and realism, but also other antonyms within the medium: negative and positive, analogue and digital. Taking in consideration all these oppositional notions, Batchen suggests that theoreticians “need to acknowledge and embrace photography’s abstractions and contradictions”. Different contradictions within photography’s theory and history became pivotal in our conversation. We also discussed the indexicality of digital images. According to Batchen, the negative/positive system of traditional photography can be compared with the binary code of digital images, which “is therefore based on the same oppositional logic, the same interplay of one and its other, that generated the analogue photograph.” Moreover, digitality does not eliminate the magic character of the contemporary photographs; in this context, Batchen mentions the capacity of instant transmission of snapshots from one place of Earth to another. In conclusion, Batchen reveals some details of his upcoming book Negative/Positive: A History of Photography.

I like the challenge of refining it down to something simple and beautiful. If it works, the layers of meaning go deeper and deeper, and you can appreciate it on any of those levels.

Jason Fulford is a photographer who thinks and works like a poet: mixing thinking and feeling, things clear and vague, piling the contents only to eventually cut them to the most essential pieces, and expressing himself in an almost game form only to code the message to be appreciated on different levels. In his art, Fulford explores different ways to express the paradigms, paradoxes, unlikely proximities, and whatever he finds fascinating. When approached directly, he describes his work as “I take pictures of all sort of things and then re-contextualise them.” In a rather scholarly way, we would describe him as a refined formalist whose work is set to send a message. In his interview with Emina Djukić and Peter Rauch, Fulford delves into his bookmaking process, explaining the underlying method of his creative agenda, the process that starts the bookmaking process, the difference in relation between images and text in his books, the specifics of working with images and text simultaneously, the different roles of text and images, and the use of images to transcend into something meaningful.

If artistic creation can be considered as an astral trip to the outer space, planning and architecture education taught me how to come back to the Earth.

Public space directs how we live and act, how we socialize and even protest. If there is no community and solidarity there is no city, no civilization; there can only be a »city-state« as the modern version of an empire, says Murat Germen, photographer known for his critical view on the home-town of Istanbul. Muta-morphosis, probably one of his most famous series, uses digital manipulation to show a dark vision of future cities: buildings cramed together as in a strange and dangerous mutation process, almost melting as objects in Dali’s paintings. Through his artworks, text and lectures, Murat Germen criticizes excessive urbanization, motivated by capital and not by human needs. He also documented Gezi Park protests, in which the political aspect of managing the city became very apparent. His photos can be understood as a visual protest and Murat Germen thinks some of them may turn into visual evidence of the urban crime committed by the present Turkish government since 2002, when it came to power.

Resistance and protest are at the core of being an indigenous person, especially nowadays in Brazil.

Contribution focuses on the series Travelling Through the Territory by Brazilian photographer, Gabriel Uchida, in collaboration with the Uru-eu-wau-wau. In the interview, his experience living and collaborating with the Native peoples of the Amazon, the political climate in Brazil and the unsettling feeling towards the destruction of the Amazon are discussed. Brazil’s historical narrative has largely situated itself in contraposition to Indigenous narratives, which are often marginalized and submerged to a time immemorial. Illegal land invasions, death threats and injustice are on the rise, heightened by the damaging rhetoric of President Bolsonaro. Today, the Indigenous population is inseparable from resistance and protest, photography lends itself as a tool for self-defense and preservation. Besides cameras, the Internet is largely accessible, compact (smartphones) and provides direct contact with global audiences, contributing to the circulation of information and unbiased narratives.

The so-called freedom of choice is turning into an infinite burden. All of this coincides with the ecologic crisis that is influencing all animal species, including humans.

Maja Smrekar is a visual artist addressing current phenomena in contemporary society. Her earlier works often touch upon the mundane permeated by stereotypes of popular culture, the future as understood through fiction, and the ethical aspects of human interventions in nature and natural processes. In 2014, she began performing her continuous work K-9_topology, in which she analyses the causes and consequences of human domination on the planet, and questions the self-evidence of the anthropogenic mentality. During the following four years, this artistic research and extremely interdisciplinary action led her to deeply explore the relationship between a human and a dog. Individual elements of the project were introduced through performance, installation, artist book, and photography. The following interview focuses on this segment of her work; on her reflections on the relationship between a human and an animal; and on certain important social contexts that define her work.

I don’t think we are victims of technology, we are agents of technology.

We meet with David Bate, artist and theorist working in photography in a Portuguese cafe in London the day the United Kingdom is holding what will most probably be its last European Parliamentary elections. The country has been at the forefront of education in photography, offering a record number of university degrees which historically were pioneer in introducing critical theory as part of the curriculum. But today this situation might have changed. The conversation flows freely between Bate’s experience of growing up in a working class area in 1970s UK and the realities of today’s educational and social system, the correlation between theory and practice and the paradoxes of the digital image and our current relation to it, aiming to introduce (or update) our readers to one of the most thought provoking and rigorous critical practitioners (which is to say, thinkers) working in and with the medium today.

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