Peter Burleigh

Peter Burleigh is a lecturer in cultural studies and theory. He teaches English culture and language at the University of Basel, and aesthetic theory at the Institute of Aesthetic Practice and Theory, HGK Basel. His research interests are in visual regimes, photography, and reforming thinking photography as a theory of the genesis of image. Recently his thinking and writing has swerved towards the need to engage in an aesthetics that has political and social effect. He ventures to establish a notion of visuality with which we can begin to invest in a criticality of the image that goes beyond the dichotomy of the truthful and the manipulated. Publications have appeared in this field since 2002.

Photographs are more than a sedimentation of image that sits on the world, referring to the world, a kind of shingle that lays on top. Rather, as real enfoldings of the virtual and actual, they are the territories of a multiplicity of sensations that are a genesis, the real actual of a diagrammatic structuring of the world in registers of time and space.

What is a photograph? What a spurious, redundant start! After all, a photograph is clearly an image, a technical image of something. What a photograph is – such a stupid question! Yet, the casual announcement of the photograph as signification relies on an a priori truth that orients our thinking, our identities, our institutions. For it is “in terms of this self-apparent image of thought that everybody knows and is presumed to know what it means to think.” Collaging Deleuze and Bergson, intuition teaches us that an image is a nexus of force in itself, or as Anne Sauvagnargues suggests, what is crucial to images is how they cut into the world. As real enfoldings of the virtual and actual, photographs are the territories of a multiplicity of sensations – a genesis, the real actual of a diagrammatic structuring of the world in registers of time and space. Roger Fenton’s The Queen’s Target made at Queen Victoria’s opening of the first Rifle Association in 1860 is an entry point to thinking deeper signalisation in photographs. While the 3-D work by Andreas Angelidakis indicates photogenetic zones of intensity, temporal dislodgment, and the event of photogenesis actualized in physical form.


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