Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Robin Mackay Translator. Myriads of negatives tell of the world, speaking among themselves, constituting a vast conversation, filling a photosphere that is located nowhere.
The Concept of Non-Photography
But one single photo is enough to express the real that all photographers aspire one day to capture, without ever quite succeeding in doing so. Photographs are the thousand flat facets of an ungraspable identity that only shines - and sometimes very faintly - through something else. What more is there to a photo than a curious and prurient glance?
And yet it is also a fascinating secret. The Concept of Non-Photography develops a rigorous new thinking of the photograph in its relation to science, philosophy and art, and introduces the reader to all of the key concepts of Laruelle's 'non-philosophy'. Get A Copy.
The Concept of Non-Photography
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It is not representation of death, but the supposed true image of life; a photo of life as white light and the simultaneous threat of predation. Thermal imagery fully entails a colorisation process that we are supposed to accept as a false vision but nonetheless a true image. This is a conflation of its specific colorisation practice and its philosophical truth claim of life. In the recent work of Irish photographer Richard Mosse, the project Heat Maps and the accompanying video Incoming uses a military thermal camera to trace and photograph the journeys of refugees and migrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Senegal, and Somalia.
The camera that was used is a military surveillance device that is classified as a weapon under international law due to its use with long range weapons, and is designed to detect body heat from a distance of over 30km. The photographs are printed as large scale tableaus, and the video is projected on three large curved screens Figs 4, 5. The obviously problematic aim to erase particulars of identity, especially through military technology, is co-mingled with the claim that Mosse makes of the thermal camera as a philosophical and photographic truth.
The thermal sensitivity of the camera could hypothetically capture all humans and all nonhumans that emanate heat in the similar spectrum of human body heat. However, such is not its use by design. It is not one, as Roth puts forth, that incorporates a practice of chromo-politics at all levels of its design. The invisible light of the heat of human life is brought forth into view, albeit it is done while simultaneously taking a position as if along enemy lines. The film title alone, Incoming , reveals its position of looking through a device on a specific side of a line, for the tracking of only specific humans from very specific countries.
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It is not the generic humanity of the pseudo colors of heated and living bodies that the project promises. More than an image of generic life, they are images of a predatory Othering color practice posed as the truth of an invisible light. At one point during Incoming , we witness an autopsy as doctors remove the bone of a child whose decomposing body had been washed up on a shore after weeks of being in the sea.
While it may seem that the thermal camera will here connect to the realism of this death, the arbitrary pseudo-color map of the thermal imagery has been reversed by Mosse. If indeed all life is rendered the same by the thermal camera by body warmth, why then when looking at the dead child must we see it reversed, so that the child is colorised in the same manner as the other refugees painted in pseudo shades of splotchy white?
It seems, rather than life itself, Mosse is specifically colorising all of the bodies of refugees to be the same color, in both life and death, marking them as always in a particular false color palette. The history of false colorisation of otherness is apparent as a latent false-whiteness practice. It is a social violence in line with the colorisation practices of photography and cinematography that claims itself as merely a technological truth. In this way, there is an actual genericity when we understand the thermalness of heat imagery. He does not place himself into the apparatus, but behind it, and thus he is not a photographer of generic humanity.
The thermal image here is a philosophical orientation that serves the narcissistic photo, it is always already orientalist, rather than proceeding from the generic stance. To think of the thermal camera and its pseudo-coloration as generic is simply an erasure of its one-sidedness and continues the illusion of an auto-positional truth founded on an oriental mode of photographic and militaristic predation.
After this mastery of non-philosophical photographic practice, then it is possible to dedicate a photographic practice of heat that we know we cannot see — a photo as if with eyes half-closed.
To implement a chromo-political design practice is to use a practice of self-thought, of the artist self and color, and a solidarity with bodies as the self embedded in the white hot pain of real life. Kaes, N. Baer, and M. Oakland: University of California Press, orig. Bazin, A. Durham: Duke University Press, orig. What is cinema? I , translated by H. Berkeley: University of California Press, Blight, D. Brassier, R. Burk, D.
Comolli, J-L. Eisenstein, S. Towards a theory of montage: Sergei Eisenstein selected works. London-New York: I.
- Necsus | False color/real life: Chromo-politics and François Laruelle’s photo-fiction.
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Tauris, Kolozova, K. The lived revolution: Solidarity with the body in pain as the new political universal. Skopje: Evro-Balkan Press, Laruelle, F. From decision to heresy: Experiments in non-standard thought. London: Urbanomic, a orig.
Photo-Fiction, a non-standard aesthetics , translated by D. Minneapolis: Univocal, b. The concept of non-photography , translated by R. New York: Sequence Press, Misek, R. Chromatic cinema: A history of screen color. All thoughts are equal: Laruelle and nonhuman philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Roth, L. Smith, V. Representing blackness: Issues in film and video. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, Virilio, P. The vision machine. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, Download We maintain an online repository with PDF downloads to aid referencing.