Trinity Tomes 6 - Negative/Positive: A History of Photography

Old Member
7 June 2021 17:30-18:30

Join us to hear from Professor Geoffrey Batchen about his recently published book Negative/Positive: A History of Photography

As its title suggests, Negative/Positive: A History of Photography  begins with the negative, a foundational element of analog photography that is nonetheless usually ignored. This focus is used to tell a representative, rather than comprehensive, history of the medium. The fact that a photograph is split between negative and positive manifestations means that its identity is always simultaneously divided and multiplied. The interaction of these two components was often spread out over time and space and could involve more than one person, giving photography the capacity to produce multiple copies of a given image and for that image to have many different looks, sizes and makers. This book traces these complications for canonical images by such figures as William Henry Fox Talbot, Kusakabe Kimbei, Dorothea Lange, Man Ray, Seydou Keïta, Richard Avedon, and Andreas Gursky. But it also considers a number of related issues crucial to any understanding of photography, from the business practices of professional photographers to the repetition of pose and setting that is so central to certain familiar photographic genres. Ranging from the daguerreotype to the digital image, the end result is a kind of little history of photography. 

It is no longer possible to book online but if you would like to watch the recording see the college YouTube channel


Geoffrey Batchen

Geoffrey holds the Professor of the History of Art in the Department of the History of Art and the Faculty of History. Born in Australia, Geoff's work as a teacher, writer and curator focuses on the history of photography.  His publications include Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (1997); Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (2001); Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance (2004); William Henry Fox Talbot (2008); What of Shoes: Van Gogh and Art History (2009); Suspending Time: Life, Photography, Death (2010); Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph (2016); Apparitions: Photography and Dissemination (2018); and Negative/Positive: A History of Photography (2021).  He has also edited Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida (2009) and co-edited Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis (2012). He has previously taught in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and his curated exhibitions have been shown in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Brazil, Iceland and Japan.