conference: The vegetal transfer: Plants, crops and the photographic surface (FAMU, Prague)

17. May 2019

Department of Photography FAMU: Host lectures

Wednesday May 17, 12:00

U1, FAMU, Smetanovo náb?. 2, Prague 1

In this talk I will present my research on the interweaving between vegetable growth and the formation of images since the experimental practices of Plant Physiology in the last decades of the 19th century. It is an entanglement that characterizes particularly the context of agricultural operations since then. It can be found for instance in the impact of aerial photography in the development of large-scale agricultural programs of the 20th century, or in the technologies known since the 1990s as precision farming, driven by machine vision systems. Or, more recently, it is epitomized in the use of image-based machine learning techniques applied to the administration and prediction of crops.

In all these different contexts the vegetable appears as a green surface whose form and movements are measured and analyzed through techniques linked to visual media. There, then, a remarkable convergence takes place. On the one hand, in the plants, due to processes such as photosynthesis, light is transformed into vegetable matter. On the other, in the media practices considered –analogue and digital imaging, mainly–, light is registered on their photosensitive surfaces. That is, in these situations where visual media are used to quantify vegetable growth, two different forms of inscription of light encounter. A space of possible transfers between them can be considered then.

These transfers will be the main object of the presentation. They will be addressed from the point of view the media theoretical notion of cultural techniques, on the one hand, and from a practice-based approach in the context of media art.