Lecture / Video recording

Editor’s note: The lecture from June 30, 2016 at C/O Berlin can now be watched online:

Video . The Changing Gaze . From Observation to Surveillance

Lecture by Sandra S. Phillips

We cannot blame the camera for what it has done to us; nevertheless, it has made certain human predilections much easier to satisfy.” Sandra Philipps

Since the rise of photography as a medium in the late 19th century, people have been fascinated by the diverse possibilities of cameras and in particular capturing everyday moments – both public and private. From the beginning, photography documented more than just posed portraits and staged situations, but rather also fulfilled the various objectives of observation and exposure, such as with political war reports and commercial Paparazzi images. For all of these photos, personal borders were crossed, intimate topics published, the undiscovered revealed and taboos consciously broken.

Whether the respective images were produced secretly or openly constituted just one aspect of it. The prevailing reception, interpretation and further use of the visual material seems to almost be more important than the concrete reason for taking the photographs. The curator and art historian Sandra S. Phillips explores in her lecture some of the more invasive and disconcerting aspects of photography and how our perception of photography has changed in recent decades – particularly in the current context of the problematic nature of surveillance. She outlines both the historical development and the massive shift of voyeurism as well as planned surveillance in the digitalized age.

Sandra S. Phillips studied at Bard College and Bryn Mawr College and earned her doctorate at the City University of New York. She was a curator at Vasser College Art Museum and has taught at various institutions including the State University of New York, the Parsons School of Design, the San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Art Institute. She was a resident at the American Academy in Rome and was awarded a scholarship from The Japan Foundation. Sandra S. Phillips has been senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art since 1999. She has curated numerous exhibitions on modern and contemporary photography – including “Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera Since 1870”, “Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West” and “Police Pictures: The Photograph as Evidence”.

Text: C/O Berlin

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