Carole Baker is an academic and photographer who has worked in higher education since 1991; at the Universities of Sunderland, Derby, Edinburgh Napier, and Plymouth. Since completing her doctorate in 2001, her practice-based research has centred on nonhuman animal representation and the implications of Posthuman and New Materialist theory. She has exhibited work in the UK, US, Japan and Cyprus. Carole’s current creative work is a critical realist method of committed investigative practice, part-art, part-documentary, part-philosophical reflection, which uses photography and text to examine power, alterity and marginalisation. It is underpinned with theoretical engagements, influenced by Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault, Serres, Barad and Massumi.
Rather than a Posthuman photography, it makes more sense to talk of strands of Posthumanist thought and practice permeating the contemporary photographic art practice.
This essay was inspired by the growing critical and artistic attention currently afforded to the subject of the nonhuman animal within Posthumanism and a curiosity to explore photographic practices that could potentially contribute to this endeavour. An exploration of Postmodernist art practice has revealed a dramatic shift in approach to the nonhuman animal subject; essentially characterised as a move from a sceptical, emotionally-distanced, theoretically-grounded range of practices to those that are emotionally-engaged, affective and ethically responsive. This is not to suggest that this characterises all Posthumanist photographic practices; a number of critical writers ably theorise about global networks, nonhuman photography, abstraction of vision. Instead, I examine photographic practices which are embedded within compassion, generosity, responsibility. This is not a return to the modernist notion of the artist and his or hers creation, but a plea for productive interrelations based on equality and experimentation which will potentially lead to novel ways of living.