Forget Photography

Andrew Dewdney


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The central paradox this book explores is that at the moment of photography's replacement by the algorithm and data flow, photographic cultures proliferate as never before. The afterlife of photography, residual as it may technically be, maintains a powerful cultural and representational hold on reality, which is important to understand in relationship to the new conditions. Forgetting photography is a strategy to reveal the redundant historicity of the photographic constellation and the cultural immobility of its epicenter.

It attempts to liberate the image from these historic shackles, forged by art history and photographic theory. More important, perhaps, forgetting photography also entails rejecting the frame of reality it prescribes and delineates, and in doing so opens up other relationships between bodies, times, events, materials, memory, representation and the image.

Forgetting photography attempts to develop a systematic method for revealing the limits and prescriptions of thinking with photography, which no amount of revisionism of post-photographic theory can get beyond. The world urgently needs to unthink photography and go beyond it in order to understand the present constitution of the image as well as the reality or world it shows.

Forgetting photography will require a different way of organizing knowledge about the visual in culture that involves crossing different knowledges of visual culture, technologies, and mediums. It will also involve thinking differently about routine and creative labor and its knowledge practices within the institutions and organization of visual reproduction.


This is the most engaging, illuminating and provocative book about the photographic condition I have read in a long time! Andrew Dewdney's passionate exhortation to forget photography comes from a deep political concern about the violence of the medium which is rooted in the belief that 'to capture' is 'to represent.' The book is also a celebration of the ongoing vitality of image-making with cameras and other machines—and an invitation to renew our understanding of images as being part of data flows and clouds.

Joanna Zylinska, author of Nonhuman Photography and Professor of Media Philosophy and Critical Digital Practice at King's College London

Despite its numerous technical deaths, photography refuses to die. In confronting this paradox, Forget Photography throws a welcome grenade at its ossifying institutions—from the museum to the academy—which continue to sustain photography's afterlife. Crucial to the book's brilliance is the central call to 'forget photography' which is mobilised variously as a manifesto, break-up letter, and a political project. In slaying the zombie of photography, Dewdney asks us to make space for new understandings of the image under computational capitalism. An ambitious, important and necessary book.

Katrina Sluis, Associate Professor and Head of Photography & Media Arts, School of Art & Design, Australian National University

Andrew Dewdney

Andrew Dewdney is Research Professor and Codirector of the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image, at the School of Arts and Creative Industries at London South Bank University.