Re-Thinking Photobooks: Media constellations in Media Constellations

International Workshop, Philipps-University Marburg, October 14th-16th, 2022

Organised by the project 5 of the DFG Research Unit 2288 Journal Literature, with the Visual Studies Research Institute at the University of Southern California, and hosted by the Deutschen Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte – Bildarchiv Foto Marburg (DDK)

Venue: Seminarraum 14A, Kunstgeschichtliches Institut, Biegenstraße 11, 35037 Marburg (Entrance via Wolffstraße)

This workshop will broaden the outlook on photobooks, beyond the canonical understanding of the term, by engaging with a wide variety of books with photographs: photojournalistic and/or thematic monographs, popular book series, coffee-table books, celebratory retrospective volumes, historical (re)collections, manuals, and the like. It will also endeavor to situate the history of the photobook at the intersection of multiple media (with or against which it manifests its medial identity, evolving and changing over time) rather than as a stand-alone genre. Instead, we strive to understand the photobook as an object constituted by media constellations, tying medially diverse content—different kinds of images and writings, drawing on what is technologically available at a given time—and combining it into meaningfully arranged double pages by ways of the layout. In turn, the publication of photographs in book form also productively refers to their surrounding constellated media cultures, ranging from magazines to audiovisual media such as film and television, all of which are taken up, remediated, or contrasted in and through photographic books

We will explore how both seminal and/or understudied examples have contributed to the structure and history of the “photobook format” as it relates to other forms and genres. We aim to carve out how the photobook crafts a – dynamic – medial identity of its own in this intermedial network. By addressing the photobook as a media constellation in media constellations, the workshop suggests that what distinguishes the photobook as an object of photo-historical inquiry is its very intermedial history.

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