The Concept of Non-Photography by François Laruelle, published by Urbanomic and Sequence Press. Mohammad Salemy. Can we identify photographic social media, and particularly Instagram, as an instance of François Laruelle's concept of non-photography? This book provides a critical introduction to François Laruelle's writings on photography, with a particular focus on The Concept of Non-Photography and.


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As assuredly as he dismisses the superficial simulacrity of the photo-effect, he asserts the fractal algorithm as a perfect example of how photographic self-similarity might function.

But like a fractal, any part of this one photograph contains the possibilities of All Photography in-its-entirety.

Laruelle has less to say on something like, say, a low res digital thumbnail, asserting francois laruelle non photography pixels like some undeveloped or primordial being under a microscope.

The Concept of Non-Photography by François Laruelle

In fact, he deliberately locks out all such distinctions as between digital and film-based photography from his conversation, as per his a priori francois laruelle non photography of technical definitions from non-photography concerns.

Conversely, what does non-photography mean for photo shoots like this one with their heightened attention to pre-production and post-production editing? The concept of non-photography helps us recognize Instagram not as a machine that generates a multiplicity of photographs through which a complex and eloquent image of the World can arise, but as an apparatus for reducing all pictures, genres and styles of photography, even photographers, into a single generic entity.

Instagram at its every instance can only and repeatedly identify nothing but other photographs or, in its core, the essence of photography itself. The rising tide of social media photography and in particular Instagram is automatically achieving what francois laruelle non photography would take volumes of arguments against the dominant theory and practice of photography.

The Concept of Non-Photography

Let us make it clear. As the heir to Facebook, which itself is a more limited version francois laruelle non photography its predecessors, namely MySpace and Friendster, Instagram further reduces the promise of boundless communication inherent to the rhetoric of older social media that permeated the BBS 5 and Francois laruelle non photography forums prior to the emergence of web 2.

It limits user interaction to a bare minimum, francois laruelle non photography a series of fragmented, abridged and pantomimic visual transactions. To declare Instagram an instance of non-photography is not to reflect on its revolutionary possibilities or to attribute to it greater emancipatory qualities than those already claimed unjustifiably for standard photography by critics and philosophers.

On the contrary, Instagram needs to be recognized as the medium for a long-awaited downgrading, not only of photography but also of the philosophies of negation, perception, and being.


At the very least, we need to understand how, and perhaps francois laruelle non photography, photography is beginning to fail its ultimate philosophical obligations in the encounter with its own networked and digital self, in the fractalogical mirror of Instagram.

Laruelle identifies Western philosophy as the source of the confusion between the World and its image.

For him, francois laruelle non photography externalization of the world into a representational copy is a misguided project that was inaugurated by Western philosophy and later enhanced by both the technical capabilities of standard photography and those of its interpreters.

This is precisely the process Galloway believes to lie at the very core of digitality, or the binary division of all ones into twos.

Instagram as Non-Photography

By functioning as an apparatus for the mechanically automated separation of the world from its visible surface, photography succeeded in extending the logic of standard philosophy through conceiving of thought as a facsimile of the World. This is the process that Instagram, through its operational logic, is in the process of overturning.

As software products belonging to the attention economy and designed for a mass francois laruelle non photography, social media platforms, including Instagram, embody the memory and long history of video and computer games before them. Instagram is advantaged over other forms of social media photography due to its explicit gaming features, i.

Simply stated, users, before taking a pic, begin thinking about the ways in which they can identify and promote it. francois laruelle non photography

Instagram photographs are therefore not of the World but instead exist autonomously from it, engaged in a collective game of attention exchange. Instagram francois laruelle non photography essentially non-photographic because francois laruelle non photography is a technological transformation of photography into a pure attentional form based on a complex and interrelated calculative logic derived from computer science.

For Laruelle, photographic stance is not a specific worldly position from which the photographer casts his gaze on the subject but is rather a generic renunciation of the body and its substitution with an auto-grounded and abstract stance.

While it francois laruelle non photography true that Instagram users have an immediate relationship with the smartphone, the Instagram camera is only one of a limitless number of uses for this hardware. Instagram exists in a multidimensional virtual world which is over and above the already existing experience of the three dimensional space and one-dimensional time of the physical world to which the photographic camera has a materially continuous connection.

As an app, Instagram resides within the francois laruelle non photography operating system, itself functioning mostly outside of the smartphone. Galloway compares this difference with the split space that exists between a picture and its edges or between what he calls the diegetic and non-diegetic aspects of an interface.

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