Failed Images tries to understand photography in its difference from the reality it shows. It sets as a task to analyse the different ways the photograph transforms that which exists before the camera. Photography is not only determined by technical features, but also by a conventional approach to it. This approach can be recognized in what is now called a ‘snapshot’. But the photographic medium enables also very different practices and as a result very different kinds of photographic images. To see this, one needs to look at the diversity of photographic images and practices outside the dominant approach. In this book the photographic image will be explored by focusing on photographic practices refusing the dominant approach to the medium, namely staged photography, blurred photography, under- en overexposed photography and archival photography.
Ernst van Alphen (1958) is Professor of Literary Studies at Leiden University. Before he was Queen Beatrix Professor of Dutch Studies and Professor of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley. He published not only widely on literature, but also on art and photography. His most important publications on art are Francis Bacon and the Loss of Self (Harvard UP), Armando: Shaping Memory (NAi uitgevers), Caught By History: Holocaust Effects in Contemporary Art, Literature, and Theory (Stanford UP), Art In Mind: How Contemporary Images Shape Thought (University of Chicago Press), and most recently: Staging The Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media (Reaktion Books).