• Between Presence and Program: The Photographic Error as Counter Culture

      Piper-Wright, Tracy; University of Chester
      Common photographic errors such over or under exposure, blur, or inadvertent cropping are increasingly rare as technological developments in digital photography have sought to eradicate the error from practice and perception. Efficiencies such as camera automation and image preview are often designed to remove the ‘unreliability’ of the human element in order to produce accurate and consistent images. The error, occurring on the margins of practice and increasingly rare, provides a counterpoint to this prevailing image culture by revealing the interdependence of photographer and camera through unintended outcomes. This chapter explores the ideological assumptions entwined in the development of camera technologies, and how cultures of practice based on a hierarchy of control between camera or photographer arose. Through examples drawn from the research project In Pursuit of Error, the chapter demonstrates how the error disrupts this hierarchy by evidencing the shared subjective agency of camera and photographer. The methodological framework of Actor-Network Theory is used to interrogate the relationship between photographer and camera and reveals them as equal ‘actants’ in the event of photographing. The embodied photographer’s attitude of play, experimentation and not-knowing is interdependent on the camera as a co-creator of unexpected image events which disrupt the conventions of photographic representation.
    • A Trace of Actions Unseen: The Photographic Error as Photography ‘in performance’

      Piper-Wright, Tracy; University of Chester
      In contemporary digital photography the accident or fault is an increasingly rare and unusual phenomenon, but it presents valuable insights into the practice of photography. This article discusses how the photographic error reveals qualities of the photographic experience normally hidden in conventional photographs, and proposes a reconsideration of time in relation to photography perceived through the accidental image. The error is conceived as a performance, extending the conventional time scales of the photograph from the ‘snap’ into three ‘acts’: the photographic event, the recording of an image and, lastly, interpretation by the viewer. In each stage the error’s relationship to time is shown to be ambiguous and multifaceted, counterpointing a simplified concept of time which prevails in the conventional photograph. The error exposes the entanglement of actors and relationships within the act of photographing and in so doing destabilises common assumptions about photographs as simple, immediate documents.