Abstract 

What do we talk about when we talk about digitisation? People working with photographic images tend to understand this concept in different ways, depending on whether they work in museums, archives, the stock photo industry, media outlets, publishing, or education. The impact of digitisation has likewise been varied across these different areas: affecting anything from exhibition design and archival practices, via research methods and learning experiences, to business models and intellectual rights management. Photographic technologies are moreover hardwired into the digital interfaces of everyday life, of which smartphones are the most obvious example. Inspired by the sociologist Roland Robertson’s (1992) attempt at «mapping the global condition» through the development of a «minimal phase model of globalisation» I propose to chart the digital condition of photography through a similar phase model of digitisation. This mapping exercise produces a conceptual framework that can be helpful in historicising how photographic practices in general, and photographic archives in particular, are affected by the emergence and consolidation of digitisation as a cultural form.

Nina Lager Vestberg

Nina Lager Vestberg is Professor of Visual Culture in the Department of Art and Media Studies at NTNU in Trondheim. Nina’s work on photo history and archives has been published in international refereed journals, and she sits on the editorial board of History of Photography. Other research interests include the digitisation of museums and the environmental aspects of media technologies. Recent publications include «Ordering, searching, finding» in Journal of Visual Culture (2013), Media and the Ecological Crisis (Routledge 2015, co-edited with Richard Maxwell and Jon Raundalen), and «‘There is no cloud’: toward a materialist ecology of post-photography» in Captures 1:1 (2016).