Cities and Photography
By Jane Tormey
Routledge – 2011 – 266 pages
Routledge – 2011 – 266 pages
Photographs display attitudes, agency and vision in the way cities are documented and imagined. Cities and Photography explores the relationship between people and the city, visualized in photographs. It provides a visually focused examination of the city and urbanism for a range of different disciplines: across the social sciences and humanities, photography and fine art.
This text offers different perspectives from which to view social, political and cultural ideas about the city and urbanism, through both verbal discussion and photographic representation. It provides introductions to theoretical conceptions of the city that are useful to photographers addressing urban issues, as well as discussing themes that have preoccupied photographers and informed cultural issues central to a discussion of city. This text interprets the city as a spatial network that we inhabit on different conceptual, psychological and physical levels, and gives emphasis to how people operate within, relate to, and activate the city via construction, habitation and disruption. Cities and Photography aims to demonstrate the potential of photography as a contributor to commentary and analytical frameworks: what does photography as a medium provide for a vision of ‘city’ and what can photographs tell us about cities, histories, attitudes and ideas?
This introductory text is richly illustrated with case studies and over 50 photographs, summarizing complex theory and analysis with application to specific examples. Emphasis is given to international, contemporary photographic projects to provide provide focus for the discussion of theoretical conceptions of the city through the analysis of photographic interpretation and commentary. This text will be of great appeal to those interested in Photography, Urban Studies and Human Geography.
"It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive, exciting or informed discussion of photography and the city. Jane Tormey’s theoretical sweep locates itself in Marx and then moves through Lefebvre, Walter Benjamin, Jean Baudrillard and a host of other contemporary critical theorists. Through her work we see the photograph as a "provocation" rather than a presentation of reality, and we unravel its layers to understand the networks of relationships, systems and power that make up the city. Her far ranging discussion negotiates the history of ideas as skilfully as it takes us to a myriad of cities, using photography to penetrate the urban experience rather than simply to represent it. Happily the book is well illustrated and the images add subtlety and depth to her analysis. Tormey’s multi-layered account is a delight from beginning to end; a must-read for all who share an interest in cities and photography." — Douglas Harper, Professor of Sociology, Duquesne University, and President, International Visual Sociology Association
"Jane Tormey’s book brings into dialogue key critical thinkers on the city and photography, engaging as it does so with the work of a wide range of international photographers, and offering close analysis of an extensive range of images from the nineteenth century to the present. Her innovative exploration of how the urban world has been represented, understood and grasped - however fleetingly - in and through the photographic image is rich in insights for all of those interested in the endlessly productive encounter between the two." — Dr Edward Welch, Chair of School in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University, UK
"What is refreshing about the book is its determination to avoid the more abstract discussions that can characterise some art-historical texts. Here, Tormey's openness to the work of geographers acts to leaven this tendency. The book is extensively illustrated from photographic projects that are discussed at length within the text. Although many of these sources will be new to geographers, they will help to ground and extend their engagement with the conceptual material. The boxed discussions of key concepts and photographers further open up the material to the student reader." — Tim Hall, University of Gloucestershire, UK
Part I: Contexts Introduction Chapter 1. Cities and Urbanism Chapter 2. Photography Concepts Chapter 3. Photography and/in/of the City Part II: The Documented City Chapter 4. Walking the City Chapter 5. Social and Political Practices Part III: The Metaphorical City Chapter 6. Postmodern Megalopolis Chapter 7. City and Subject Chapter 8. Pyschogeographies and the City
Jane Tormey lectures in Critical and Historical Studies in the School of Arts at Loughborough University, UK. Her research explores the exchange of ideas between art practice and other disciplines and the ways in which conceptual and aesthetic traditions can be disturbed by and through photographic/filmic practices.