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Hardcover | Out of Print | 248 pp. | 7.5 x 9 in | 27 illus. | January 2001 | ISBN: 9780262024860
Paperback | $30.95 Trade | £25.95 | 248 pp. | 7.5 x 9 in | 27 illus. | February 2002 | ISBN: 9780262523240
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Each Wild Idea

Writing, Photography, History


In Each Wild Idea, Geoffrey Batchen explores a wide range of photographic subjects, from the timing of the medium's invention to the various implications of cyberculture. Along the way, he reflects on contemporary art photography, the role of the vernacular in photography's history, and the Australianness of Australian photography.The essays all focus on a consideration of specific photographs -- from a humble combination of baby photos and bronzed booties to a masterwork by Alfred Stieglitz. Although Batchen views each photograph within the context of broader social and political forces, he also engages its own distinctive formal attributes. In short, he sees photography as something that is simultaneously material and cultural. In an effort to evoke the lived experience of history, he frequently relies on sheer description as the mode of analysis, insisting that we look right at -- rather than beyond -- the photograph being discussed. A constant theme throughout the book is the question of photography's past, present, and future identity.

About the Author

Geoffrey Batchen is Professor of the History of Photography and Contemporary Art at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author of Burning with Desire: The Conceptions of Photography (1999) and Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (2002), both published by the MIT Press.


“Unruly, energetic, unmastered. Also eruditem engaged and rigorous. Batchen's essays have arrived at exactly the right moment, when we need their skepticism and imagination to clarify the blurry visual thinking of our contemporary cultures.”
Ross Gibson, Creative Director, Austrailian Centre for the Moving Image
“Geoff Batchen is one of the few photography critics equally adept at historical investigation and philosophical analysis. His wide-ranging essays are always insightful and rewarding.”
Mary Warner Marien, Department of Fine Arts, Syracuse University
“This book includes the most important essays by Geoffrey Batchen and therefore is a must-have for every scholar in the fields of photographic history and theory. Batchen takes each element of history as equal ground for coding and de-coding and approaches each part of a given subject as just as important as all the others. He works from a wealth of material deriving not only from photographic, art, and literary history but also from industrial archeology, information science, biology, and other sciences.”
Rolf Sachsse, Professor of Photography and Electronic Imagery at the Department of Design, Niederrhein University of Applied Arts at Krefeld