Monday 29 April 2013

Tuesday 21 May 2013 6:00-8:00 Gordon Square Cinema - In Conversation: Mark Lewis with David Campany

Outside the National Gallery (2011) - 
© Mark Lewis (

In Conversation
Mark Lewis with David Campany
Organised by Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image 
Mark Lewis makes films and digital works. By using film as a gallery medium, he investigates the process of cinema production while also taking in consideration the wider tradition of photography and art. Recent films like Man (2012), Smoker at Spitalfields (2012) and City Road 24 March (2012) make direct reference to the pictorial exploration of the everyday, and in his piece Black Mirror at the National Gallery (2011) the interaction between the museum space, the mirror and the cinematic camera becomes a collaborative exercise for observation and composition making. David Campany is a writer and curator. His books include Art and Photography (Phaidon, 2003) and Photography and Cinema (Reaktion, 2008). He is currently organising exhibitions of the work of Mark Neville (at The Photographer's Gallery) and Victor Burgin (at Ambika P3).

Thursday 9 May 2013 - The Making of a Cloud Observer: Swedish Meteorologist Hugo Hildebrandsson's Photography and the 19th Century Cloud Atlas

Magnus Bremmer, Stockholm University

plate no 6 from Hugo
Hildebrandsson's "Sur la classification des nuages" (1879)

Meteorology as a modern science was largely a product of novel ways of distributing information and organizing what John Ruskin once called a ”vast machine” of observers. In this paper, Magnus Bremmer delineates how photography came to play a key––albeit, not undisputed––role in the project of educating an international network of cloud observers.

Tracing the photographic engagement of the Swedish meteorologist Hugo Hildebrandsson, an influential figure in the making of the first photographic cloud atlases, Bremmer shows how photography initially was acknowledged as an indispensible aid to observation and classification of clouds. However, as the medium was further involved in the instructive pursuits of the international meteorological circles, the photographic image eventually turned into an object of observation, scrutinized under the meteorologists’ trained eye.

Monday 4 March 2013

Traces of Nitrate: Archives and Landscapes between Britain and Chile

11-15 March 2013. School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

  • Seminar

Traces of Nitrate: Archives and Landscapes between Britain and Chile

Monday, 11 March, 6-7.30pm, Keynes Library (Room 114), School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

Chilean nitrate, once highly prized mineral, was at the centre of the relationship between Britain and Chile from the middle of the nineteenth century to the early twentieth. This paper, an outcome of a collaboration between an art historian and photographers, intends to open a debate about the neglect and importance of the history of nitrate.

The ‘trace’ of the paper’s title refers to our process of delineating the circuit of nitrate wealth from mines in Atacama desert to City of London merchant houses and global corporations. ‘Trace’ also refers to nitrate’s physical remains: the trace as material form, fragile and fragmented. We examine traces in archives of a British academic, in surfaces of abandoned nitrate mines and in the structures of copper mining.
All welcome

  • Postgraduate Workshop

Photographic Documentation of Sites and Histories

Tuesday, 12 March, 6-7.30pm,  Peltz Room, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

This postgraduate workshop is an opportunity to discuss the role of photography in the process of research, documentation and story telling of contested sites and histories with two experienced documentary photographers. Ignacio Acosta and Xavier Ribas will show examples of their work to illustrate their methodologies and production of photographic works prior to discussing the participants own work.
This event is restricted to Birbeck postgraduate students only.

  • Gallery Talk

Traces of Nitrate: Mining history and photography between Britain and Chile

Friday, 15 March, 1-2 pm, Peltz Room, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

An exhibition of the work in progress of the AHRC funded Traces of Nitrate project developed at the University of Brighton by Ignacio Acosta, Louise Purbrick and Xavier Ribas.

These events are organized in collaboration with the Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies

All welcome. Booking is not required. First come, first served

Tuesday 12 February 2013

4 February 2013 - Stephen Clucas on 'Found Photographs'



Stephen Clucas introduced us to a selection of images drawn from a collection of found photographs and negatives which he assembled between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2010. Taking his cue from Siegfried Kracauer’s claim that ‘The position that an epoch occupies in the historical process can be determined more strikingly from an analysis of its inconspicuous surface-level expressions than from that epoch’s judgements about itself’ (Das Ornament der Masse, 1927), Clucas sees his collection of lost and discarded photographs as a ‘random archive’ of everyday life in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Clucas began by grounding his work in theories of the everyday, and particularly Georges Perec’s calls for an ‘endotic’ anthropology of the quotidian in l’Infraordinaire (1989) and the Congrès ordinaire de Banalyse – an annual conference dedicated to research on the banal – founded in 1982 by Pierre Bazantay and Yves Helias of the University of Nantes. He then showed a series of images from his collection, discussing such issues as the materiality of the images (abraded, damaged and sometimes deliberately cut or torn up), the ‘anachrony’ of the archive (he found images dating back to the 1950s and 1980s), the aesthetics of the abraded image, and the extent to which the collection proved to be an inadvertent historical testament to the decline of chemical photography.

The images included sexually explicit polaroids, negatives containing images of an Ethiopian orthodox baptism, an evangelical  prayer meeting, domestic and holiday snaps, and photographs of the war in Afghanistan found on a DVD in the streets of Islington. Clucas will be mounting an exhibition of the photographs in the Peltz Room, an exhibition space in Birkbeck’s 43 Gordon Square building, this December.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Forthcoming Seminars

Spring Term

18 Feb 6.00pm

Reading Group –
Vilém Flusser,
Towards a Philosophy of Photography (London: Reaktion Books, 2000)
43 Gordon Square, Room 112, 6:00-7:30
(link to google books) 

11 March 6.00pm 

Lecture – Louise Purbrick, 'Traces of Nitrate'
Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, 6.00-7.30pm

18 March 6.00pm

Reading Group (room 112)

Summer Term 2013

1 May 6.00pm

Reading Group (room 112)

8 May 6.00pm 

Work-in-Progress – Seminar TBC

5 June 6.00pm

Lecture – TBC

17 June 6.00pm

Work-in-Progress – Patrizia di Bello, ‘Pictorialism’ (Keynes, 6:00-7:30)