The Automated Photography Research Project is part of the MA in Photography at ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne with the support of the HES-SO, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland. Automated Photography is a continuation of the HES-SO Augmented Photography research project conducted at ECAL in 2016/2017, which aimed to question the mutability of the digital photographic image, transformed both in its physical materiality and in its virtual expression. Automated Photography focuses on a specific aspect of these changes, which are omnipresent in contemporary visual production: the automation of capture systems (smartphones, lidar, UAVs, satellites, space probes), the automation of image processing (machine vision analysis, facial recognition), and the increasing automation of image production and post-production (CGI, photogrammetry, artificial intelligence).
For the past twenty years, many photographers have been integrating images produced autonomously by machines into their work. We witness a paradigm shift in the process of creating photography: From photographic capture in the strict sense to appropriation, automated and computational practices, which respond to a conception of space that is less and less built on the equivalence between the human eye and the machine.
The project is in-between theoretical and applied research: while it is necessary to contextualize the changes introduced by automation into a broader history of photography and visual culture, as well as into a theoretical reflection on the automated image, it is also essential to produce a tangible and factual understanding of their technical and aesthetic challenges. By combining an analytical and theoretical approach with a reflection resulting from the practical confrontation with these technical devices, the project aims to take advantage of the crossroads of these different fields. The synthesis is based on a practical approach (by applying these technologies), an aesthetic approach (by analysing the visual qualities of these devices and their creative potential) and a theoretical approach (by placing the practical results in a cultural, social and political context).
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