FLASH! The Shape of Light: History, Ethics, and Aesthetics of Flash Photography examines over 150 years of global visual output from across a range of disparate fields deploying flash light in photography, from the earliest experiments with the medium through the present day, to consider the history, ethics, and aesthetics of this understudied but ubiquitous visual technique. Throughout photography’s history, practitioners have experimented with means of creating portable, instantaneous sources of illumination in order to capture spaces, scenes, and movements that might otherwise remain invisible. Liberating the camera from the constraints and vicissitudes of natural light, flash technologies produce a unique set of aesthetics entirely distinct from that of available-light photography. Flash and strobe illumination have advanced the quest for evidentiary truth, revelation, and the transcendence of embodied vision. These motivating factors have driven nearly two centuries of technological innovation, expanding the frontiers of our knowledge and inspiring artistic expression. Today these technologies are folded into all areas of photography, without second thought, by everyone from professional image makers to casual camera phone users. Through extensive archival research, conversations with artists and researchers, a scholarly colloquium, and ultimately a traveling exhibition, this multi-year project sets out to explore the work of photographers who have used flash as a defining practice.
The Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant is launched as part of an arts writing initiative designed to support independent, progressive arts publications and individual arts writers.