Research project, ECAL 2019


Automated Photography 

Automated Photography is a continuation of the research project Augmented Photography conducted at ECAL in 2016/2017, which aimed to question the mutability of the digital photographic image, transformed both in its physical materiality and virtual expression. 
The research project focuses on a specific aspect of these changes, which are omnipresent in contemporary visual production: the automation of capture systems (smartphones, lidar, UAVs, satellites, space probes), the automation of image processing (machine vision analysis, facial recognition), and the increasing automation of image production and post-production (CGI, photogrammetry, artificial intelligence).
Automated Photography has a dual objective. On the one hand, it plans to develop a critical theory of the automated image, in order to confront the students of the ECAL Master Photography with its multiple implications (social, political, technical and aesthetic). On the other hand, it proposes to respond to the profound changes in the photographic profession, which must constantly adapt to technological developments.
By combining an analytical and theoretical approach with a reflection resulting from the practical confrontation with these technical devices, the project aims to take advantage of the crossroads of these different fields. The synthesis is based on a practical approach (by applying these technologies), an aesthetic approach (by analysing the visual qualities of these devices and their creative potential) and a theoretical approach (by placing the practical results in a cultural, social and political context). Automated Photography results in a comprehensive mapping and theory of automated practices, processes and aesthetics in both artistic and applied contemporary photography. The results take the form of a series of interviews with artists, research papers and photographic projects. A selection of these results is published as a catalogue on the subject and a travelling exhibition with an original scenography will be produced at the end of the project. A public symposium will bring together all the stakeholders of the project, practitioners, researchers and teachers to enable an open discourse on the field of automation in contemporary photographic practices with a wider audience. The results of the research will be communicated in the form of a website (on the existing site created for Augmented Photography: augmented-photography.ch), an exhibition, a symposium and research papers.

Main applicant
ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Milo Keller (project leader) 
Claus Gunti (researcher)
Joël Vacheron (researcher)
Florian Amoser (research assistant)
Calum Douglas (research assistant)
Thomas Le Provost (graphic designer)

Visiting lecturer 
Marco de Mutiis, Simone C. Niquille, Jules Spinatsch, Kurt Caviezel

Sara Bastai, Emidio Battipaglia, Robin Bervini, Maeva Bosko, Jasmine Deporta, Anja Karolina Furrer, Alessia Gunawan, Christian Harker, Jung-Ting Hu, Johanna Hullár, Sally Jo, Philipp Klak, Doruk Kumkumoglu, Igor Lucena, Natalia Maximova, Valentin Russo, Jelena Schuhmacher, Yang Su, Gedvile Tamosiunaite, Joanna Wierzbicka, Olivia Wünsche, Manqin Zhang

September 2019 – February 2021

Supported by 
ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Strategic fund of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO RCDAV)