Philosophy of Photography 11 (1-2):99-111 (2020)

Photography has an important place in picturing and documenting environmental changes, especially when they occur in distant areas, or are inaccessible from ground level and/or imperceptible to the naked eye due to their scale. As the invention of photographic technology was officially registered only 55 years after the invention of the steam engine, most subsequent transformations of the environment have been well documented. One needs to distinguish the time of human changes to the environment, the Anthropocene, from images of the era this term names, which are the way humans learn of their own environmental deeds. Such images may be dependent, yet they are also distinct insofar as they influence the perception as well as the production of the Anthropocene itself, framed by limits of the static, fractioned, subjectivized and perspectival medium of photography. In this vein, the article risks proposing yet another in a long series of neologisms that aim to define the unstable or extreme times we live in: the Photographocene. The Photographocene marks various phases of the human relationship to the environment in which photographs have documented, directly communicated and announced impending environmental processes directly caused by human actions. Yet, this is also an era marked by photographic images of the environment that report but also pollute our relationship to the environment by forming an alternate reality. Thus, this concept enables one to articulate the role that images have in our understanding of the past–present–future human impact on the environment.
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DOI 10.1386/pop_00030_1
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