Thursday, June 27, 2013

CfP: Photo Essay

Call for Work: Photo Essay
CFP: Photo Essay, special issue Streetnotes 22
Deadline: October 15, 2013

Streetnotes: poetry, ethnography, and the documentary experience.

Photo Essay

In this special issue of Streetnotes we wish to examine the concept of the Photo Essay, to engage, question, experiment, and reinvent it, as a means to capture the character of the contemporary moment.
Born alongside the camera, the Photo Essay took shape as a challenge to hitch together image and thought. Maneuvering between two modes of writing, with light and with words, the creators of the Photo Essay set in motion modern genres, such as photojournalism and documentary, and initiated new disciplines like visual anthropology and sociology. Offering the promise of new insight and new truths, the exposé of the Photo Essay helped create new media platforms and new audiences too. The best work also provoked a new critical awareness of social conditions and new questions about their representation.

Along the way, however, the Photo Essay became less transparent and more freighted with the problems of late modernity. Questions arose about the form’s authenticity and objectivity. Critics and artists saw in it a hardening of style, and the emergence of a privileged gaze and compositional authority that was less conducive to disrupting and demystifying power than to maintaining its structures. Perhaps against its original intentions, the Photo Essay became a device that distanced viewers from events.

The fall of the Photo Essay, its turn from truth to deception, however, took place alongside the popularization of both photography and ethnography. New technology and media enabled both an explosion and acceleration of images and texts across an omnipresent mediascape, one which is today increasingly dominated by so-called ‘user-generated content.’ In this issue of Streetnotes, we ask if at-hand tools to capture images, instantly upload videos, and issue short-burst communiques have further buried the Photo Essay as form. Or instead, have these advances made the very challenges the Photo Essay calls forth, all the more important to take up?

There is no way to go back to re-create nor re-read a Photo Essay like Bateson and Mead’s _Balinese Character_ or W. Eugene Smith ‘Country Doctor’ as if the crisis of representation never happened, or as if the means of digital production had not significantly changed. Streetnotes asks, instead, if the impossibility of the Photo Essay today has not, in fact, made the questions implicit in its form all the more critical as we attempt to make sense of the flood of images and texts which today everywhere surround us.

We endeavor to think and experiment with the Photo Essay of tomorrow. To ask what must be destroyed and what must be rescued? What is the Photo Essay’s unique craft, art or invitation? What kind of audience can it evoke today?

In this issue of Streetnotes we are looking for:

New Photo Essays, which experiment and play with its form. Academic articles on the place of the Photo Essay within today’s mediascape.
Critical reviews of contemporary work that aims to bring photography and texts together in a sustained and complex fashion. And any other inventive work that struggles with the challenges associated with the interplay and poetics of images and thought, or pictures and words.

Questions and topics related to the Photo Essay may include (but are not limited to the following):

The heuristic character of essays and photography
The poetics of concealment and exposition
The dialectics of image and texts
The End and/or Ends of photojournalism
The Photo Essay within the context of new media
The politics of the Photo Essay
Radical images and the onset of concrete social conditions
Capturing and appropriating space
Reimagination of social relations
Images of the global, placemaking and travel
Fast media and slow Interpretation
Image vs. Text, Eye vs. Ear
Im/possibilities of seeing differently
The Work, craft and art of photography and writing today
New advances in descriptive poetics

Deadline: October 15, 2013

Please direct questions to Streetnotes Editor, David Michalski

All articles must be submitted through Streetnotes submission management software:

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