Colloque, 22 octobre 2010

Air War and Photography

Sharon Sliwinski
Imaginaires du présent: Photographie, politique et poétique de l’actualité, événement organisé par Vincent Lavoie et Mirna Boyadjian

This paper considers the relation between photography and the modern invention of air war. Against air war’s technological innovation in imagining and enacting terror, photography is here regarded as a potent vehicle of civilian defense. Lee Miller’s images of the London Blitz serve as the exemplar, as instances of what Jacques Rancière (2008) calls the “politics of aesthetics.” This means not only regarding Miller’s images as deliberate political intentions and effects, but also using this example to think through how pictures are politics. Like the schemata of dreamwork, the power of these images lies in their capacity to convey the unreality of air war’s effects. Their force lies in the illumination of everyday life as permeated with fantasy. Or put differently, Miller teaches us that a form of political resistance can be found in unconscious thought.

Sharon Sliwinski is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies and the Centre for Theory and Criticism at the University of Western Ontario. She teaches and writes in the fields of visual culture, psychoanalysis, and critical theory. Her book, Human Rights in Camera, which traces the aesthetic dimensions of human rights discourse, will be out early in 2012. She is currently working on a project tentatively titled Dream Matters, which is about the social and political significance of dream-life.

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