Surplus-Value: Surplus Image

Hillman, John (2018) Surplus-Value: Surplus Image. Open Library of Humanities: Special Collection, What’s Left? Marxism Literature and Culture in the 21st Century, 4 (1). pp. 34-56. ISSN 2056-6700


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The image surplus of the 21st-century’ directly maps a crisis of critical new ideas, as well a social shift away from confronting economic, environmental and political consequences. Today, in the economy of images, exchange is the formal determinant of a distracting means of re-production. In an age of Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, photography is a form of both abstract labour and enjoyment. While we usually consider photographs to be equivalents of a diverse number of things – when they show our faces, our sunsets, our favourite food, our pets, our holidays and our celebrations – ultimately they fail to maintain this assertion, under even minor scrutiny. What if photography contains within it the capacity to be more than a representation of some thing or other? Would this not provide a radical re-reading of photography and a means to reimagine the structures of capital? In other words, to engage with photography as a way of thinking allows us to begin to rephrase the discourses of production and exchange.
Following Marx’s formula of commodity-money-commodity I suggest there is a process of experience-image-experience, when an experience is photographed. I argue that in the digital world we are undergoing an inverted shift to image-experience-image. This occurs when the creation of images becomes the primary aim and objective. In this new formula, image becomes more than image: it is the mediation of experience into something incrementally excessive of simply image and becomes a new means for a different mode of production.

Item Type: Article
11 June 2018Published
1 June 2017Accepted
Subjects: CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-03 - politics > CAH15-03-01 - politics
CAH20 - historical, philosophical and religious studies > CAH20-02 - philosophy and religious studies > CAH20-02-01 - philosophy
CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-04 - cinematics and photography
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > College of Digital Arts
Depositing User: John Hillman
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 08:49
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 12:18

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