Jonathan Dentler : “Wire Service Photography and the Reinvention of the World Picture, 1917-1950 – webinar 28/09/2020

Posted on September 23, 2020


Beginning in the 1920s, wire photography services decisively reshaped modern visual culture by using a technology similar to a fax machine to separate visual information from its material support and transmit it by telecommunications infrastructure. Infrastructure’s typical mode is to withdraw from view, and it is frequently concealed by design. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, however, wire photos tended to visually register traces of their bumpy paths through circuits, electrical interference, and adverse weather patterns. More than transparent representations of distant places and events, wire photography produced a new cultural space as the “interface” at which people perceived and contemplated telecommunications networks, serving as visible proof of planetary infrastructure.

Jonathan Dentler, Terra Foundation for American Art Research and Teaching Fellow, HAR (Université Paris Nanterre) and LARCA (Université de Paris)