What is experimental photography? It’s a little-studied field and a poorly defined concept in the history of contemporary photography. The author presents the works of over a hundred experimental photographers, and in doing so relies in particular on the thesis of the Brazilian philosopher Vilém Flusser. The focus is on photographers who work against the camera, refuse to follow the rules and interfere with the normal functioning of the photographic apparatus by modifying the set parameters. Thus, some artists transgress the rules of image production by playing with speed and exposure, with light, with the chemistry of photo development or with printing techniques, or by reinventing the camera. Others depart from the device by deconstructing the camera, using only the lens (camera obscura), sometimes not using a camera at all (photogram), or by subverting the photographic material. Lastly, there are some who dislodge the author-photographer, by effacing him or by including their own body in the photographic gesture. Contemporary experimental photography is not, strictly speaking, a school or a movement, but simply a trend, a moment between the decline of traditional analog documentary photography and the advent of digital photography at the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first.
Marc Lenot is a writer specializing in experimental photography at the University and author of the blog Lunette Rouges on contemporary art published by Le Monde (http://lunettesrouges.blog.lemonde.fr/).
Marc Lenot, Jouer contre les Appareils (De la Photographie expérimentale)
Published by Editions Photosynthèses