SPE National Conference 2016

Posted by: on Dec 1, 2015


The ultimate fiction of photography is the deep-rooted adage “the camera does not lie.” From its inception, photographers have had the ability to manipulate reality using a wide-variety of techniques from positioning the camera, to processing in the darkroom, or editing on the computer. Even so, the hallmark of photography has been its ability to record the thing directly in front of the camera. The imprint or trace of the object before the lens has led audiences to believe in the objectivity of the photograph. Yet, a more skeptical and savvy 21st century audience has deconstructed the inherent belief in the veracity of the photograph, resulting in a definition of photography that is incessantly fluid.

With the invention of photography during the 19th century, painters were challenged into exploring new realms. While photography perfected representation with exactitude, painters sought expressions of truth (or another reality) within the constructed abstracts of the Impressionists, Cubists and Futurists. In the same way, digital photography and the democratization of the camera have challenged lens-based, photographic artists to venture beyond, using their imaginations to transform or manifest less tangible realities. In the midst of reality television, docudramas, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, web surfing, movies, social media, and the ubiquitous digital manipulation of photographic images, the fine line that once existed between what is real and what is fantasy has all but vanished.

How does one acknowledge the constructed nature of the photograph while still claiming its validity as a tool for the accurate representation of real life events? Do viewers remain committed to ideological notions of authenticity? What new challenges does photography face? How are lens-based artists pushing boundaries? Join us in dazzling Las Vegas, a city filled with imaginary worlds, as we engage in discourse addressing the aspects of myth, fantasy, and reality in photography and deconstruct rhetoric of what constitutes a photograph.

Keynote and Featured Speakers: Gregory Crewdson, Teresa Hubbard, Alexander Birchler, Lyle Ashton Harris

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