Friday, April 25, 2008

We Are All Photographers Now!

The rapid mutation of amateur photography in the digital age
08.02 — 20.05.2007
Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne
The rapid mutation of amateur photography in the digital age
08.02 — 20.05.2007
Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne

Everything is changing…

… how we take photographs, manipulate them, share them, store them — even how we pose for them. Our tools are mutating quickly, promising ever faster, clearer, brighter and cheaper pictures. Meanwhile telephones become cameras, desktop printers morph into mini-printing labs, and high-definition screens threaten to dislodge the venerable photographic print from gallery walls. And the eyes of the whole world are only a click away on the computer keyboard.

Where are we all heading?

During photography’s entire history, the amateur and the professional have represented distinct and often contrary approaches to photography, each battling for supremacy. Has the digital revolution tilted the field of battle irrevocably in the amateur’s favour? Or has it swept this traditional rivalry into the dustbin? Can anyone say?

A laboratory, an experiment, an exhibition

This innovative project takes a close look at the current state of this exciting, rapidly mutating image environment. A highly interactive event, it welcomes submissions from across the globe, and invites both live and virtual debates between visitors of all ages, educators, representatives of industry, photographers, editors, curators and cutting-edge internauts, netizens, and digerati. And just as our image world shifts with each passing hour, minute and second, so too will our exhibition respond to new developments with constant updates.

A comprehensive overview

Cell-phone imagery, digital camera pictures, sharing sites like Flickr and photolog, amateur agencies like Scoopt and Splash, individual blogs, electronic scrapbooks, hotlinking, ‘citizen photojournalism’, professional photographs showing amateurs at play, new printing opportunities, and historical precedents going well back to the 19th century… all are fodder for our electronic experiment. This is the first major museum project to undertake a comprehensive overview of the digital revolution as it impacts on everyone.

The key questions

The exhibition will attempt to shed light on many burning issues, among them:

Does the digital shift constitute a revolution, or merely an evolution?

Does the shift represent a real democratization of photography?

Is citizen photojournalism worthy of its name?

Does the shift threaten the livelihood of professional photographers in fundamental ways?

Does the shift represent a shift towards more authenticity or truthfulness — or less?

Is a true Casual Capture *on the horizon?

*A term proposed by engineers at Hewlett-Packard to refer to a future ideal of effortless picture-taking.

I.The exhibition structure: threads & modules

The following themes, or threads, run through the exhibition:


… the digital revolution. Digital debutante, or analog convert?


… about digital photography and its implications;

adapting and adopting to mutating technology


… pictures. Who is doing it? Of what? And why?

Sharing pictures…

… in communities large and small

Critiquing pictures…

…and thinking and talking about digital imagery

Saving pictures…

… Which ones should be preserved? And how?

II. The modules

Each of the threads houses a number of individual modules relating to its theme.

Each module is composed of a mix of the following components:

a brief explanatory text

photographs (framed or mounted. Individually or in groups. As prints, on-screen images, or projections. Live & recorded)

historical material (quotes from the past, explanatory notes, cameras and other objects, film clips, the 19th-century Kodak songs)

Internet imagery (on line, or as video visits to websites & blogs like Flickr, photolog, Scoopt, Splash, Lulu, etc. etc.)

printouts of selected webpages (so the visitor can read the pages more comfortably than on a screen)

displays (of statistics, of hardware & software)

artists’ installations (sourcing/refashioning amateur photographs)

curators’ installations (working with amateur photographs)

newspaper & magazine reproductions of amateur imagery

magazines & books of amateur imagery

In addition, there are the following individual modules:

The hardware map (all the apparatus of today’s digital technology: cell phones and portable appliances, printers, discs, chips, cables, cameras, screens….all mounted on a wall with various interconnections)

«The Flux»:

Upload to our site (open global invitation)

On screen display of images

Random selection of 100 printed high quality each week

Prints displayed, with weekly update

The print lab (for diverse use: for the Flow project as above, for non-flow prints taken off the net, on demand of visitors)

The chat module (informal talks on the gallery floor, structured and unstructured debates, international round table… These events programmed through the whole period of the exhibition)

The administrative team

Project director: William Ewing
Director, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

Project administrator: Vincent Angehrn
Administrator, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

Press & media communications: Marie-Claire Mermoud

Office coordination: Laurence Hanna-Daher


Adrien Cater
Artist/Photographer; digital imaging specialist and designer, Lausanne

Sabine Süsstrunk
Professor, Images and Visual Representation Group, EPFL, Lausanne

Luc Debraine
Art historian and journalist, Le Temps, Geneva

André Rouvinez
Head of Museography, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

With the assistance of

(in alphabetical order)

Mathieu Bernard-Reymond
Artist/Photographer; digital imaging specialist, Lausanne

Christophe Blaser
Associate Curator, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

Jean-Jean Clivaz
Assistant, Museography, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

Daniel Girardin
Curator, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

Nathalie Hershdorfer
Associate Curator, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

Radu Stern
Head of Education, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne


Guillaume Arbex, journalist, webmaster, Le Temps, Geneva

Stefana Broadbent, anthropologist, Swisscom, Lausannne

Matthias Bruggmann, artist/photographer, Lausanne

Ed Earl, Curator of New Media, International Center of Photography, New York

EPFL, Lausanne:
Damir Laurenzi, system administrator
Laurence Meylan, post-doc
Patrick Schönmann, student
Daniel Tamburrino, doctoral student
Patrick Vandewalle, post-doc

Edwin Jacobs, independant curator/Consultant of Culture Tilburg (NL)

Erik Kessels, editor, curator, Amsterdam

Michael Lapaire, journalist, webmaster, Le Temps, Geneva

Jonathan Lipkin, Professor of Digital Media, Ramapo College, author, New Jersey

David Mellor, Professor, University of Sussex, curator of photography, author, Brighton

Martin Parr, artist/photographer; curator; editor, U.K.

Fred Ritchin, director of PixelPress, photography historian, New York

Université de Lausanne:
Marco Costantini, art historian
Julien Furrer, web and e-learning developer
Romain Voisard, e-learning project coordinator

Bas Vroege, curator and director, Paradox, Edam

A multi-partner collaboration:

This project is organised in collaboration with a number of partners in the museum, gallery, university and business sectors, including: Le Temps, Geneva; Hewlett Packard; EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne); The University of Lausanne; The University of Geneva; Keystone, Zürich; MAZ The Swiss School of Journalism, Luzern; JPG Magazine, San Francisco; The Municipality of Tilburg, Holland; Paradox, Edam; Kessels-Kramer, Amsterdam; The Photographers’ Gallery, London and many individual’s specialists interested in the area.

This project is organized in collaboration with a number of partners in the museum, gallery, university and business sectors, including:

Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne
a museum for photography

18, avenue de l’Elysée
CH–1014 Lausanne, Switzerland
tel. + 41 21 316 99 11
fax + 41 21 316 99 12

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