The Agency of Images: a panel discussion on the future of photography

Featuring guest speakers:

Dr. John O’Brian, Professor of Art History, University of British Columbia
Dr. Ron Burnett, President, Emily Carr University
Dr. Sharla Sava, Writer and Educator, Capilano University

The Agency of Images gathers together historians of photography and theorists of the Image to discuss how new technologies of picture taking and distribution are changing our understanding of photography today. The panel will consider how images have been freed from certain constraints related to the analogue era of photography in ways that open up new possibilities of understanding the image. In the digital era of photography the intervention into and alteration of the photograph has increased exponentially, archives of imagery have expanded at a rapid pace, and the exchange of photographic images have followed new economies of exchange. The panel will consider the implications of these changes on the future of fine art and visual culture. Presentations will begin with a review of vernacular and high art photography from the Cold War that pictured the future through images of nuclear collapse; the discussion will then shift to consider some the differences between analogue and digital images in relation to the philosophy of images more broadly; the final presentation will consider new directions in self-portraiture and its relation to temporality and duration on the web.

The Agency of Images is organized in conjunction with Glocal – a contributive digital art and photography project currently in residence at the Surrey Art Gallery’s TechLab. Over the past 15 months, artists based at the Surrey Art Gallery have collected upwards of 50,000 digital images from contributors around the world.

Guest Speakers:

Dr. Ron Burnett, President, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design is a film and video maker, photographer, web designer and writer. He has published three books, most  recently, How Images Think (MIT Press, 2005) and over 150 articles in journals and books worldwide.

Dr. Sharla Sava is a writer and university educator. She has lectured, curated exhibitions, and published a variety of articles about art after modernism, discussing the work of Robert Filliou, Ray Johnson, N.E. Thing Co., Jeff Wall, Antonia Hirsch, among others.

Dr. John O’Brian is an art and photo historian and UBC’s Brenda and David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies. He has published more than a dozen books on Canadian, modernist and contemporary art. His present research concentrates on the engagement of photography with the atomic era in North America and Japan.

Surrey Art Gallery
13750 – 88 Avenue
Surrey, BC,
Canada V3W 3L1
(t) 604.501.5566

Acknowledgments: The Surrey Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the financial contribution of: City of Surrey, Cultural Capitals of Canada, Department of Canadian Heritage, Arts Partners in Creative Development, Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Museums Association, Young Canada Works, and British Columbia Arts Council.