Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Career summary and research interests
Geoffrey Batchen's work as a teacher, writer and curator focuses on the history of photography. He is particularly interested in the way that photography mediates every other aspect of modern life, whether we're talking about sex or war, atoms or planets, commerce or art. This makes photography a particularly challenging phenomenon to study and a lot of Geoff's work addresses the methodological challenge that this study poses for art history. Besides being an expert in the general theory and historiography of photography, Geoff has helped to pioneer the study of vernacular photography (photographs not intended as art, such as snapshots, commercial photos, and objects like photographic jewellery).
Batchen has published extensively, in twenty languages to date. He is the author of Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997, with subsequent translations into Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Slovenian and Chinese); Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (2001 and in Chinese); Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance (2004); William Henry Fox Talbot (2008); What of Shoes: Van Gogh and Art History (2009, in German and English); Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (2010, in Japanese and English); Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph (2016); and Obraz a diseminace: Za novou historii pro fotografii [Image and Dissemination: Towards a New History of Photography] (2016, in Czech). A new collection of his essays, 更多的疯狂念头 [More Wild Ideas: History, Photography, Writing], will appear in Chinese in 2017. He has also edited Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida (2009) and co-edited Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (2012).
Current research projects
Geoff is currently working on a number of projects. These include a book about the implications of photography's reproducibility.
Co-Editor (with Mick Gidley, Nancy K. Miller, and Jay Prosser), Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (London: Reaktion Press, 2012).
Un desiderio ardente: Alle origini della fotografia, translated by Elio e Marta Grazioli (Rome: Johan & Levi Editore, 2014). Italian translation of Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography, with a new Preface
* 每一个疯狂的念头 [Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History] translated by Mao Weidong (Beijing: China Nationality Art Photograph Publishing House, 2015). Chinese translation of Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History
Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph (New York: DelMonico/Prestel, 2016). A survey history of photographs made without a camera, from the 1830s to now, featuring 144 full-page colour plates.
An anthology of essays about the photographing of atrocity, featuring contributions by Griselda Pollock, Susan Meiselas, Alfredo Jaar, Nancy Miller, Mick Gidley, Rebecca Solnit, Peggy Phelan, Barbie Zelizer, Tom Junod, Marianne Hirsch, Darren Newbury, Mark Durden, Ariella Azoulay, Fred Ritchin, among others.
热切的渴望, translated by Mao Weidong (Beijing: China Nationality Art Photograph Publishing House, 2016).
Chinese translation of Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography
Obraz a diseminace: Za novou historii pro fotografii [Image and Dissemination: Towards a New History of Photography], translated into Czech by Michal Simunek, edited and with an introduction by Tomas Dvorak, and an essay about the author by Michal Simunek (Prague: Nakladatelství Akademie múzických umění v Praze, 2016).
更多的疯狂念头 [More Wild Ideas: History, Photography, Writing], translated by Mao Weidong (Beijing: China Nationality Art Photograph Publishing House, 2017), forthcoming. A series of essays examining the history and theory of photography, with an Introduction by Yoshiaki Kai
Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (The MIT Press, 1997).
Foreign Language translations of Burning with Desire: Arder En Deseos: La Concepción de la Fotografía (Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 2004).
Taoruneun Yokmang: Sajineui Kokohak (Seoul: Imagine Books, 2006).
Setsubou ni Moyeru: Shashin no Hatsuan (Tokyo: Seikyusha, 2010),.
Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (The MIT Press, 2001).
Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance (Van Gogh Museum & Princeton Architectural Press, 2004).
William Henry Fox Talbot (Phaidon, 2008).
What of Shoes?: Van Gogh and Art History (Cologne: Seemann Henschel, 2009).
Editor, Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2009).
Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (Japan: Izu PhotoMuseum, 2010).
‘Afterword: Failure, Glorious Failure,’ in Kris Belden-Adams ed., Photography and Failure (London: Bloomsbury, 2017), forthcoming.
‘Vernacular Photography,’ in Tanya Sheehan ed., Grove Dictionary of Photography (Oxford University Press, 2017), 214-219.
‘Proto-photographie loin de l’Europe: les experiences scientifiques de Hercule Florence,’ in Linda Yasmine Fregni Nagler ed., Hercules Florence: Le Nouveau Robinson (Monaco: Nouveau Musée National de Monaco & Milan: Humboldt Books, 2017), 84-98.
‘Shadowgraphs: Photographic Portraits by Len Lye,’ in Paul Brobbel, Roger Horrocks and Wystan Curnow eds., Len Lye: The Anthology (New Plymouth: Len Lye Foundation, 2017), forthcoming.
‘Afterword’ with Lisa Gitelman, in Nicoletta Leonardi and Simone Natale eds., Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century: Towards an Integrated History (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017), forthcoming.
'Photography as Pronkstilleven,’ in Sarah Hamill and Megan R. Luke eds., Photography and Sculpture: The Art Object in Reproduction (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2017), forthcoming.
“Photography, History, Curating: A Conversation with Geoffrey Batchen (interview with Cecilia Grönberg, May 5, 2010)’ in Cecilia Grönberg, Handelsehorisont Event Horizon: Distribuerad Fotografi (Goteborgs: OEI Editör, 2016), 292-308.
‘In Absentia: The Politics of Cameraless Photography,’ in Katharina Sykora, Kristin Schrader et. al., ed., Valenzen fotografischen Zeigens [Valencies of Photographic Showing] (Kromsdorf: Jonas Verlag, 2016), 190-203.
‘Double Displacement: Photography and Dissemination,’ in Thierry Gervais ed., The ‘Public’ Life of Photographs (Toronto: Ryerson Image Center/The MIT Press, 2016), 38-73.
‘Revenant,’ in Taryn Simon, Rear Views, A Star-Forming Nebula, and the Office of Foreign Propaganda: The Works of Taryn Simon (London: Tate Publishing, 2016), 232-242.
[reprint and French translation of ‘Revenant,’ in Taryn Simon, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII (London: Tate Modern and Mack, 2011), 739-753.]
‘Encountering the Vernacular,’ in Michele Penhall ed., Stories from the Camera: Reflections on the photograph (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2015), 37-42.
‘Ordering Things,’ in Brian Wallis ed., The Order of Things: Photography from the Walther Collection (Steidl, 2015), 332-339.
‘Origins without End,’ in Tanya Sheehan and Andres Zervignon eds., Photography and Its Origins (New York: Routledge, 2014), 67-81.
‘Serious Amateur,’ in Donna Wingate and Marc Joseph Berg eds., Second Languages: Reading Piotr Uklanski (Warsaw: National Museum of Art Zacheta & Miami: The Bass Museum, 2014), 148-165.
[reprint of ‘Serious Amateur’ and ‘Un amateur éclairé,’ in Piotr Uklansky, The Joy of Photography (Strasbourg: Musee d'art contemporain and Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2007), 34-43, 60-71.]
‘Richard Beard,’ Antoine Claudet’ and ‘Vernacular Photography,’ in Grove Art Online (2014): http://www.oxfordartonline.com/public/page/Globalphotoupdate.
‘Faces in the Crowd,’ in Keliy Anderson-Staley, On a Wet Bough (Indianapolis: Waltz Books, 2014), unpaginated.
‘Reverie: Lost and Found,’ in Munemasa Takahashi ed., 津波、写真, それから Tsunami, Photographs, and Then: Lost & Found Project; Family Photographs swept away by 3.11 East Japan Tsunami (Kyoto: Akaaka Art Publishing, 2014), 139-143.
‘Suspending Time,’ in Amelia Groom ed., Time (London: Whitechapel Gallery, Documents of Contemporary Art, 2013), 49.
[extract from 'Life and Death,' in Geoffrey Batchen ed., Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (Japan: Izu PhotoMuseum, 2010), 28-129.]
‘Phantasm: Digital Imaging and the Death of Photography,’ in Andrew E. Hershberger ed., Photographic Theory: An Historical Anthology (Chichester: Wiley & Sons, 2013), 334-337.
[reprint of ‘Phantasm: Digital Imaging and the Death of Photography,’ from Metamorphoses: Photography in the Electronic Age, Aperture 136 (Summer), 46-51]
‘Geoffrey Batchen: Photofile,’ in David Brittain ed., Inside Photography: Ten Interviews with Editors (Manchester: Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2013), 80-92.
‘Cancellations,’ in Thomas Barrow, The Cancellations (New York: Powerpoint Books, 2012), 91-105.
[modified extract from ‘Cancellation,’ in Douglas Fogle ed., The Last Picture Show: Artists Using Photography 1960-1982 (exhibition catalogue, Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2004), 62-67.]
‘John Tagg,’ in Mark Durden ed., Fifty Key Writers on Photography (Routledge, 2013), 235-239.
‘Ere the substance fade: photography and hair jewellery,’ in Sandra Dudley ed., Museum Objects: Experiencing the Properties of Things (London: Routledge, 2012), 72-89.
[reprint of ‘Ere the Substance Fade: Photography and Hair Jewellery,’ in Elizabeth Edwards and Janice Hart eds., Photographs Objects Histories: On the Materiality of Images (London & New York: Routledge, 2004), 32-46.]
‘Keepers: Patrick Pound and the Art of Collecting,’ in Maggie Finch ed., Patrick Pound: The Great Exhibition (Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2017), 32-45.
‘Desiring Still Life,’ in Vanessa Rocco ed., Letinsky + Marcuse: Sticky Sweet (Manchester, NH: McIninch Art Gallery, Southern New Hampshire University, 2016), 2-4.
‘All About Us: The Transit of Venus,’ in Rhana Devenport ed., Lisa Reihana: In Pursuit of Venus (Auckland: Auckland Art Gallery, 2015), 70-73.
‘Antipodean photography: an itinerant history,’ in Judy Annear ed., The Photograph and Australia (Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2015), 260-265.
‘Vendo Pela Observaçao’ & ‘Observing by Watching: Joachim Schmid and The Art of Exchange,’ Virei Viral (I Became Viral): Identidates & Coletivadades, exhibition catalogue (Rio de Janeiro: Centro Cultural do Banco do Brasil, October 2014), 104-107, 145-147.
[reprint and Portuguese translation of ‘Observing by Watching: Joachim Schmid and the Art of Exchange,’ Aperture, No. 210 (Spring 2013), 46-49]
‘Rossiter’s Lament,’ Salzburger Kunstverein ed., Punctum (Salzburg: Fotohof edition, 2014), 142-145.
‘“Photography”: An Art of the Real,’ in Carol Squiers ed., What is a Photograph? (New York: Prestel/International Center of Photography, 2014), 46-62.
‘Human Nature: Joan Fontcuberta and the Truthiness of the Photograph,’ in Joan Fontcuberta, The Photography of Nature and the Nature of Photography (Mack, 2013), 2-27.
‘Hiding in Plain Sight,’ in Linda Fregni Nagler, The Hidden Mother (Mack/Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, 2013), 4-8.
‘Spectral Colour Forms: The Sculpture of Eleonore Lange,’ in Deborah Edwards ed., Sydney Moderns: Art of the Interwar Years (Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2013), 266-268, 304.
‘The Way of All Things,’ in Aaron Lister ed., The Evening Hours: Ben Cauchi (Wellington: Victoria University Press/Wellington City Gallery, 2013), 11-15.
‘Forever Dark,’ Dark Sky (Wellington: Adam Art Gallery, 2012), 4-39.
‘Method,’ Artium Quaestiones (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Autumn 2017), forthcoming.
[Polish translation by Filip Lipinski of ‘Method,’ from Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1997)]
‘Electricity Made Visible,’ Neprikosnovenny Zapas: Journal on Politics and Culture (2017), forthcoming.
[Russian translation by Maria Gourieva of slightly revised version of ‘Electricity Made Visible,’ in Wendy Hui Kyong Chun & Thomas Keenan eds., New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader (New York: Routledge, 2006), 27-44.]
‘Observing by Watching,’ Studia Culturae of the State St. Petersburg University (2017), forthcoming.
[Russian translation by Maria Gourieva of ‘Observing by Watching: Joachim Schmid and the Art of Exchange,’ Aperture, No. 210 (Spring 2013), 46-49.
‘Correspondence: Four blog exchanges between Joan Fontcuberta and Geoffrey Batchen (October-December 2016): http://correspondencias.fotocolectania.org/en/
‘Cancellation,’ Kaypunka: Revista de Estudios Interdisciplinarios de Arte y Cultura, 3: 1 (Lima, June 2016), 87-108.
[Spanish translation by Maria Paula Garcia of ‘Cancellations,’ in Thomas Barrow, The Cancellations (New York: Powerpoint Books, 2012), 91-105.]
‘Ruination,’ Art Monthly Australasia #218 (Sydney, April 2016), 38-44.
‘Piss Poles and Hot Lips,’ Exposure 49: 1 (Spring 2016), 12-19.
‘Apparitions: La matérialité de l’image photographique,’ Patrimoines, No. 11 (2015), 22-33.
‘Guest Editorial: Local Modernisms,’ World Art, 4: 1 (2014), 7-15.
‘Chong fu yu cha yi--she ying de san bo’ + ‘Repetition and Difference: The Dissemination of Photography’ Part 2 (translated by Xu Dayan), Zhuangshi [Art & Design], No. 5 (Beijing: Tsinhua University, May 2013), 52-62.
‘Chong fu yu cha yi--she ying de san bo’ + ‘Repetition and Difference: The Dissemination of Photography’ Part 1 (translated by Xu Dayan), Zhuangshi [Art & Design], No. 4 (Beijing: Tsinhua University, April, 2013), 62-71.
‘Huai Yi de Yan Guang (怀疑的眼光) + Looking Askance,’ Art Today (Beijing, February 2013), 12-24.
[Chinese (Mandarin) translation by Zhou Lin of ‘Looking Askance,’ in Geoffrey Batchen, Mick Gidley, Nancy K. Miller, and Jay Prosser eds., Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (London: Reaktion Press, 2012), 227-240.]
‘Observing by Watching: Joachim Schmid and the Art of Exchange,’ Aperture , No. 210 (Spring 2013), 46-49.
‘Still Searching: an online discourse on photography’ (five blog entries devoted to the theme of ‘dissemination’) Fotomuseum Winterthur (September-October, 2012): http://blog.fotomuseum.ch/
Special Issue of Infra-Mince devoted to the work of Geoffrey Batchen: Patrick Talbot, ‘Geoffrey Batchen, repères biographiques et introduction,’ Arnaud Claass, ‘Les éternels retours de la photographie,’ Geoffrey Batchen, ‘Epitaphe’ (translation by Patrick Talbot), Brian Dillon ‘La photographie vernaculaire: “Ne m’oubliez pas,” une interview de Geoffrey Batchen’ (translation by Patrick Talbot), Joan Fontcuberta, ‘Paysages de paysages ou l’art en tant en tant que carte’ (edited and translated by Patrick Talbot), Geoffrey Batchen,’La photographie par les nombres’ (translation by Patrick Talbot), Infra-Mince: revue de photographie, 7 (Arles, June 2012), 25-91.
‘Ektoplazma: Dijital Cagda Fotograf,’ [Ectoplasm: Photography in the Digital Age], IFSAK: Fotograf ve Sinema Dergisi, 32: 2 (Istanbul, 2012), 98-103.
[Turkish translation of ‘Ectoplasm: Photography in the Digital Age,’ in Carol Squiers ed., Over Exposed: Essays on Contemporary Photography (New York: The New Press, 1999), 9-23.]
Book and Exhibition Reviews
‘Reproducing History: New Zealand Photography Collected,’ Art Monthly Australia, No. 295 (Summer 2016/17), 70-73.
‘Garden of the East: National Gallery of Australia,’ Trans-Asia Photography Review (October 2014): http://tapreview.org/.
‘Ripping Yarns: review of Capturing the Light,’ Source, No. 76 (Belfast, 2013), 68-69.
‘Review of Speculating Daguerre by Stephen Pinson,’ History of Photography, 37: 4 (November 2013), 459-462.
Interviews and Short Commentaries
‘The Coal Merchant and Talbot: Richard Beard,’ Talbot Catalogue Raisonné blog post (Oxford University, June 2017): http://foxtalbot.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/2017/06/02/coal-merchants-and-talbot-richard-beard/
‘Redux: Michel Braive’s The Era of the Photograph,’ Aperture (New York, 2017), forthcoming.
‘Conversation between Anne Noble and Geoffrey Batchen,’ Membrana, 2/17 (Ljubljana, 2017), 28-29.
‘Writing on Photography’ (translated into German by Steffen Siegel and Bernd Stiegler), Fotogeschichte (2017), forthcoming.
‘Exit Theory: a response,’ British Art Studies, #4 (November 2016): http://www.britishartstudies.ac.uk/issues/issue-index/issue-4.
‘A Noisy Photograph,’ Aperture #224 (New York, 2016), 121.
‘Summer Pleasures: One of the towers of Orleans Cathedral,’ Talbot Catalogue Raisonné blog post (Oxford University, August 2016): http://foxtalbot.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/summer-pleasures-one-of-the-towers-of-orleans-cathedral/
Are Flågan, ‘Close Encounters: Geoffrey Batchen on the flexible image,’ Objectiv #13 (Oslo, May 2016), 67-73, 100-101.
‘Best books of 2014,’ Source (Belfast), 2015: http://source.ie/sourcephoto/?p=2640
(with David Maskill) ‘Editorial,’ Australian & New Zealand Journal of Art, Vol. 13 (2013), 20-23.
‘Electric Photograms (Design and Violence)’: http://designandviolence.moma.org/energetic-photograms-robert-buelteman/
‘The Great Unknown,’ Photoworks Annual (Brighton, 2013), 42-47.
‘More Than Meets the Eye,’ Scope: Visual Archaeologies of Photography , No. 8 (Dunedin, November 2013), 64-65.
‘Memory Loss,’ Steffi Klenz exhibition wall text (London, 2013).
‘Shadowgraphs,’ Aperture #213 (Winter 2013), Cover and 94-99.
‘Anterior Future,’ Australian & New Zealand Journal of Art Vol. 12 (2012), 175-176.
‘Disseminating Photography, The Brooklyn Rail (New York, February 2013): http://www.brooklynrail.org/2013/02/artseen/disseminating-photography.
‘Die Neuerfindung der Fotografie [Photography’s Reinvention],’ European Photography, No. 92 (Winter 2012/13), 5-6.
‘Lost and Found Project’ (October 2012): http://lostandfound311.jp/en/essay/index.html
‘Lost and Found,’ Wall text for exhibition at Aperture Gallery, New York (March 2012).
‘Richard Beard studio,’ The Daguerriean Annual (2011), 230.
‘Australian Ways of Seeing,’ Journal of Visual Culture, 11: 2 (August 2012), 154-156.
Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth
April 29 – August 14, 2016
Dark Sky (co-curated with Christina Barton)
The Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington
1 May – 8 July, 2012
Co-Editor (with David Maskill), Special issue on ‘Contact,’ Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art , Volume 13 (2013).
Guest Editor, Special issue on ‘Local Modernisms,’ World Art (2014).
Editor, Gordon H. Brown Annual Lecture, No. 11 (2013), No. 12 (2014), No. 13 (2015), No. 15 (2017)
Programme Director 2018