Abstract: “The only sensible weapon against the cops,” Chris Marker presciently claimed in the 1960s, is “a film camera.” Exploring the ramifications of this statement in the context of the current struggles around the racial violence perpetrated by the police and vigilantes, this paper proposes a broad reflection on the social pragmatics of photography and its consequences. It begins by revisiting the question ‘what is photography?’ by inquiring into its supposed privileged relationship to the objective world. It argues that photography, far from simply capturing reality, is a powerful remaking machine that recomposes the very nature of the real. By resituating the photographic apparatus in a broad social pragmatics, it thereby seeks to elucidate its political power as a “sensible weapon.”
Bio: Gabriel Rockhill is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University and the Director of the Atelier de Théorie Critique in Paris. He is the author, most notably, of Interventions in Contemporary Thought: History, Politics, Aesthetics (forthcoming), Radical History & the Politics of Art (2014) and Logique de l’histoire (2010).