Three scale models for a photographic world: Benjamin, constellation, image and scale

Philosophy of Photography 11 (1):49-67 (2020)
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Abstract

This article sets out to substantiate an understanding of the photographic image as a constellation of scaled relations, with a focus on the significance of historically neglected questions of scale in and for the present. It explores two recurrent themes in Walter Benjamin’s writings: his celebrated methodological-epistemological concept of constellation and his less often remarked fascination for relationships of scale, processes of scaling and the scale effects these produce. These are investigated in light of the mutable and composite character of the contemporary photographic image and its unprecedented scale as a mass form. Key phenomena and prevalent conceptions of photography are approached as already structured by intercalated facts, operations and experiences of scale, scaling and scalability. On this basis, a constellation of three historical essays that examine questions of scale in photography is constructed. The guiding aim of this construction is that such a constellation might stand as a pre-history of scale and its significance in and for photography today.

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Andrew Fisher
Goldsmiths College, University of London

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