Damian sutton, glasgow Art School26102005.

The Event of Photography and the Betrayal of Art


Damian Sutton

Glasgow School of Art


Wednesday 26th October 2006


Design School Seminar Room,

Grnd Floor, Foulis Building

The Glasgow School of Art


The philosophy of Alain Badiou has recently gained much publicity as more of his work is translated into English and many of his ideas resonate with a popular dissatisfaction with both left and right politics (a translation of his Being and Event is out in late-2005). His Ethics (1993) is an often vituperative attack on the lack of faith that left-wing politics has with the major political events of the twentieth century, and on the descent of the left into self-interest. Fidelity must be kept, Badiou suggests, with the truths of art, love, politics and science which puncture all knowledge and opinion.

This paper considers Badiou's attack and its potential for reviewing modernity, modernism, and art's adherence to the destiny of its technologies. Furthermore, the paper uses Badiou's ideas to understand why other scholars of modernism, such as Jacques Rancière, have similarly attacked what they see as the 'legislative reign' of poetics over art. Finally, the paper will examine how the photographic media came to be seen as modernism's Veil of Veronica, and why they can be seen to have squandered the political potential that had garnered photography axiomatic claims to 'democracy', 'truth' and 'the real'.


Dr Damian Sutton is Lecturer in Historical and Critical Studies at The Glasgow School of Art. He has recently published on cinema and computer generated imagery, on cinema and theories of memory, and he is a co-editor of The State of the Real, forthcoming from I. B. Tauris. He is currently preparing a book for the University of Minnesota Press on photography, cinema, and time, and 'The Event of Photography' is a paper drawn from this project.

the event of photography and the betrayal of art

badiou, ranciere and t politics of aesthetics

rethink photog and time

rosa parks death - refused togve her seat up for white man - used by civ rights mkvement

t convergent image


old and new image

rethink event


digi image in film

photog rel

technology at arts disposal not as impin velief off poss

change of ideas signif point

struggle of old and new is temporal

first fifty yrs of film, poetic

schema of time

convergence remonds us that photog is idea

event of photog

apparatus and spectatorship

cinema rooted toideals

films purified ideal

phto as mythological

invention of cinema1895when first pubkicly shpwn

first as med observation confirms event

effiiency of seeing

mother temporality

exposure time reduced to kodak moment not technological change but idea of photo as event

the pose

common understanding of event is cause of radical change

naming of event, people must live an actas if it occurred

instit theory, as jolts

internet  change away from pose

delete without  conscience

print in home reinforce family

but theory of event underpins

industry looking for event to orient itself around it

style columns - is technology diff

process o inteest and surveillance

latour - trapped into it

event as jolt

badiou - ethics - p of t event - devel of theory of event -

digitise everything

connectivity -

me-digital as urban , orange arctic co presence

hp - family mobility


event as uncovering of event as truth badiou said 911 not event since nth changed

conversion of st paul on road to damascus

revol in france as all events

moment that all see themselves as part of rev

void - in whose name event occurs


art testifies of pasing of idea . all art risks being mere piecework

sep act of making from passing of ideas

art as invention

imagine invent of photog

talbot 1832 no clerer to invent


talbot married love and idea came to him

xcamera lucida

sawaerad scene and tracd image

bad at drawing led to creation

invent conceptual

art is thought process

phto rel to sci phto as sci event of art

fidelity to photo badiou is central to ethics

art sci politics love


sci s body of fodelity, selling sci to state betrays truth

badiou -truth forces knowl gallileon event

event as two destinies - - truth ot other

truth of photo as democratic never true always surveillebce

photogs sci value s truthmaker

style is arts betryal of sci

betrayal f art

acculumation of photo for state

new represn of soc


kodak, u push button, well do rest

classif of instit memory

subject thus comes into being

bettion - for recording people idt

me - dna database

criminality diff then

police and physician - photo to assign idt

how can art be culpable

art as regime

political potential of modernism lost

but photog caught in

veronicas veil - christ image on cloth

technicism - poetic over form/

ranciere   ethics -whtherartshould be part of good soc

politic and art

singular event dominates

cannot demonstrte fidelity by repeating

fidelity as ethical process

badiou -orthodoxy

badiou and ranc are ambiv about artist

only the work is relevant

role of artist is to lookout for event tat ill make practice obsolete

me  - of surveillence, seems to betray sponeneity

strictly poetic

but reflction of politics

not enough to say eth is political

me –role of instit

ranciere - regime of poetic

fidelity nowtostyleof image, rather than repres soc/

academicism clear eg of stgnation

tag 1982year after first electroniccamera

me -  rel be institut and surveil, seems away from image

Questions and Answers

gibson sci fi , street fjnds a use

home prining and digi - mundane -

d badiou said events are necesily good

connecivity as central to techl basic q is wheth world changes

irreevant whethr mass response, critical is temporal

badiou - sci truth

true event forcea itself into knowl

becomex truth when confirmed ina partic way

reaches eventful status

event as multiple irreducible intervention

fairground - momentus