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Photography Off the ScaleTechnologies and Theories of the Mass Image$
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Tomás Dvorák and Jussi Parikka

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781474478816

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2022

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474478816.001.0001

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7 Photography's Mise en Abyme: Metapictures of Scale in Repurposed Slide Libraries

7 Photography's Mise en Abyme: Metapictures of Scale in Repurposed Slide Libraries

Chapter:
(p.113) 7 Photography's Mise en Abyme: Metapictures of Scale in Repurposed Slide Libraries
Source:
Photography Off the Scale
Author(s):

Pollen Annebella

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474478816.003.0007

Long abundant, photography’s ubiquity and multiplicity has undoubtedly intensified in recent years. Photographs proliferate in the digital domain at an unprecedented scale, offering the partial realisation of many longstanding desires from a global encyclopaedic mapping of the visual world to a museum without walls. Photographic multitudes, however, also embody multifarious fears: of visual noise and mindless repetition, of metaphorical promiscuity and overpopulation. To engage with the apparently unmanageable excess of images is, it seems, to gaze into the abyss. This chapter considers the photographic abyss through an examination of the visual and literary device of mise en abyme and through WJT Mitchell’s concept of the metapicture. Through an exploration of contemporary artists who explore photographic enormity as their subject matter, particularly in relation to works that utilise obsolete photographic materials – in the form of 35mm slides from deaccessioned art history slide libraries – this chapter examines how such works and such materials employ and embody metapictorial strategies. As the works constitute images of images of images, this chapter argues that they offer a productive metapictorial site for surveying desires and anxieties about image abundance and excess.

Keywords:   Mise en abyme, metapicture, photography, 35mm slides, contemporary art, scale, abyss, excess, abundance

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