SYMPOSIUM OF »11. DARMSTADT PHOTOGRAPHY DAYS« // Wilhelm-Köhler-Saal, Old Main Building of the Technical University of Darmstadt

Information about the symposium’s topic and the Call For Papers

TOPIC: »Bizarre Escapes – Humor in Photography«

Humorous images have been part of photographic practice from its early beginnings on — animals in human postures, portraits of people making faces, bizarre stagings of well-known people in the artistic form of caricature. With social media and digital technologies of image processing, such kind of images are making inroads more than ever.
A tongue-in-cheek attitude of photographers is often a precondition in order for them to capture the crucial moment. Nevertheless have humorous photographs just rarely been the topic of scientific research until today. A serious examination of humor and irony within images is particularly necessary in times when satire has become a source for dispute.

The symposium circling around the annual topic wants to make an advance of examining the broad field of photographic humor.

CALL FOR PAPERS (summer to autumn 2019)

The application deadlines for submissions ended on 30 November, 2019. Thanks a lot to all applicants!

Interdisciplinary lectures on, among others, the following hypotheses were welcome:

• How does humour function within images: is there a general aesthetic strategy and way of representation?
• Can classical humour-theoretical positions in the field of psychology and philosophy be used in the examination of photographs as well?
• Black humour: are images depicting war, violence and terror allowed to also be humorous?
• Satirical images on the internet: by the use of which means are powerful personalities and rulers depicted satirically on social media? How do their images get manipulated and retouched? And what‘s the function of memes in this context?
• Bizarre depictions as social criticism: examples from the history of photography and art in consideration of aesthetics and history
• The absurdity of reality: aesthetical mechanisms within the field of documentary photography
• Who laughs about which kind of images: can one identify societal divisions on the basis of reactions to humorous images (e.g. on social media)?
• Female vs. male humour: is there a genderspecific, aesthetic strategy discernible (e.g. within advertisement)?
• Face recognition: why and how are cameras programmed in order for them to detect laughing people?
• Funny algorythms: how can search engines detect humorous images and what are the underlying algorythms for this ?

Other proposals were welcome as well.

The Call For Papers was addressed to young scientists (graduates, post-graduates and researchers currently habilitating), to curators, scientists, photographer working within the fields of art and media studies as well as sociology, history, philosophy and other fields of research.

Submissions had to include a written proposal as an abstract (max. 3,000 characters, in German or English) and a short CV.

The abstract would later on serve as basis for the announcement of the presentation in the programme of »11. Darmstadt Photography Days«. The symposium‘s languages will be German and English. The length of a lecture should normally not exceed 30 minutes (additionally ca. 15 minutes of discussion following each lecture). The talks will be filmed and made public as part of a publication.

Darmstadt Photography Days partially cover expenses for travel and accommodation (max. two nights, according to regulations of the federal state of Hessen regarding travel expenses). Expense allowance is intended. A preliminary talk with the speakers is planned.

The symposium will be taking place on the premises of the Technical University Darmstadt. Following the symposium, there will be a get-together and dinner for all participants.

For further information, please contact Albrecht Haag & Stephanie Stadler at