By examining photography through geography and philosophy, this book makes evident that place is not the content of a definite representation. To do this, it breaks down the participatory elements of photography into six tropes: the photographer, the camera, the photograph, the image, the spectator, and the genre. Afterwards, through a rigorous theoretical analysis of each of these themes vis-à-vis the notion of place, it shows how they manifest inactive, contingent, unlocalizable, liminal, evental, agential and exigent features. In doing so, it establishes a ‘geophilosophy of photography’, which regards place as that which resists being restricted to where it is (the photographer), to what it is (the camera), to where it goes (the photograph), to what it encloses (the photographic image), to how and when it occurs (the spectator), and to what it represents (the genre).
Ali Shobeiri is Assistant Professor of Visual Art Theories in the Departments of Art History and Media Studies at Leiden University. He is co-editor of Animation and Memory (2020).
"In this lively and highly original book, Ali Shobeiri documents the many ways in which photography is all about place. Offering acute observations on everything from the photographer to the photographic image, and from the camera to the spectator, Shobeiri sets forth all the ways, major and minor, in which photography is (in his words) ‘comprised of places.’ Proceeding from the basic premise that places are not just locations or sites but are vibrant ways of being in space and time, he demonstrates that photography presents to us the many transmogrifications of places as they are perceived, remembered, and transformed in their ‘processual, omnilocal, mutating, and lived manifestations.’ Lucidly written, this breakthrough book allows us to see that the scope and import of photography is far more extensive than we have ever imagined – and that place, the central thread of this captivating and convincing text, has been given new life through photography. The result is nothing short of the creation of a new and unique field of inquiry: the geophilosophy of photography."
“Shobeiri’s notion of ‘geophilosophy’ is an important contribution to the field. Its merits are twofold: on the one hand, it thoroughly brings together three disciplines in a very organic and convincing way; on the other hand, it also offers an excellent synthesis of the existing research on ‘place’, which serves as an echo chamber to the authors and concepts that are creatively appropriated in this work. The major quality of this work, which does not ‘invent’ the notion of place, but broadens and deepens it, is its synthetic power and its capacity to forging a real unity while remaining open to many different influences.”