Title: Pictures for the People: Visual Multiples and their Role as Supporting Tools for the Democratic Process
1 - May - Lecture HIGH LOW  
3 - May - Discussion
Lecturer: Richard Benson, Dean of the School of Art, Professor of Photography


Lecture Description:

The question underlying the lecture will be of the chicken and egg variety did technological innovation precede social developments, and make them possible, or did desire and need drive the development of technology.

This point can be nicely illustrated by examining the origin of printing from moveable type. The development of this invention had nothing to do with a philosophical ideal, such as disseminating knowledge broadly to a previously un-empowered audience; rather printing was invented simply to make cheaper books. Only after its establishment did the possibility of widespread education, through the production of identical multiple copies, become a possibility.

I will show pictures that illuminate 5 major technical aspects of pictures:

  • The nature of pictures as representational, symbolic or decorative.
  • The development of pictures that can move (not moving pictures, but rather ones that can travel to widespread audiences)
  • The revolutionary possibilities of identical multiple images.
  • The invention and implications of photography.
  • The steadily decreasing mass of printing matrices and multiple picture forms.

All of this is about the dissemination of knowledge through the power of pictures, and the manner in which systems such as democracy can grow to previously unheard of scales through the efficient spread of identical blocks of information through visual forms that exist in multiple copies.

Copyright 2001, Richard Benson






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