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Extending human vision: Interview with Paul Wombell, guest curator for Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal 13

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Extending human vision: Interview with Paul Wombell, guest curator for Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal 13

Paul Wombell is an independent UK based writer and curator of photography. Previously directing two of the UK’s top photography institutions as well as curating many photo festivals in Europe, Wombell was invited as guest curator for the 13th edition of Le Mois de la Photo à Montreal, the city’s international photography biennale. In this short interview during the opening event, Wombell talked to M-KOS about his motivations to theme this year’s program under “Drone: The Automated Image” so to suggest the camera is imposing its own agency in relation with humans and thus to further question the meaning of being human in the technology age.

MKOS: How did you start the process of curating Le Mois de la Photo?

Paul Wombell [PW]: This started 26 months ago, a long time ago, I put the proposal in to the biennale and I was quite surprised that they accepted it. The premise was the idea of humans using technology to see or to extend human vision. The key concept was the idea of the drone, which was the idea of using a form of technology to see in the distance, partly with all the military issues with the American government and the idea of surveillance. But I took that as a kind of metaphor to look beyond just the drone. There are drones featured in some of the exhibitions, I took the idea that I could include closed circuit television, that I could use automatic image making like the photo booth, include robots and start thinking about webcams and software which can connect to Google Street View and Google Earth.

MKOS: So in replacing the human photo operator, are drones announcing an emerging post-human age?

PW: I wouldn’t call it post-human, because of all these issues about materiality. I mean, the issue of agency or the idea of species and a sense of consciousness. Those ideas have been in philosophy for thousands of years. My issues or concerns in a lot of the work here is the idea that in particular in terms of modernity or renaissance, it’s the idea that human is central. Some of the works in the biennale question that we are just one species that can have consciousness, that other species can have a consciousness. So some of the artists are using animals, but another idea is that technology has its own agency, there is a sense of different time frames, not just only human time frames but other time frames. I’m thinking about that kind of range of relationships and raise the key question of ‘what does it mean to be human?’

L’article complet : www.m-kos.net