Nonphotographic memory
January 24, 2008 9:59 AM   Subscribe

From my vague description, can you tell me what this form of photography is called?

There was a programme on BBC4 a few months ago that charted the development of photography through the twentieth century. At least, I think that's what it was about -- I was drunk at the time.

There was one form of photography that took my interest but, for the life of me, I can't remember what it was called.

According to my memory, it was a popular form in Germany. Images would be presented in sequence/triptych/diptych. All images (generally images of objects) would share some kind of similarity with each other.

The form had a name like 'comparisonology' or something. I seem to remember one piece featuring images of cement factories.

Does anyone know what I'm talking about?
posted by popcassady to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like The Genius of Photography. I don't see "comparisonology" or anything similar, but here's a blog that has descriptions of all the episodes, and this description of the series has a set of the photos you seem to be describing. Here's the entry that references the program and photography & Germany.

Episode 1/6 - Fixing the Shadows
Episode 2/6 - Documents for Artists
Episode 3/6 - Right Time Right Place
Episode 4/6 - Paper Movies
Episode 5/6 - We are Family
Episode 6/6 - Snap Judgements

This is ripe for an FPP if it hasn't appeared there already.
posted by cashman at 10:22 AM on January 24, 2008

I haven't seen the series but, your description reminds me of Bernd and Hilla Becher who photographed industrial buildings.

btw the word you're looking for is typology.
posted by squeak at 10:36 AM on January 24, 2008

Are you perhaps thinking of the work of Bernd & Hilla Becher , who did precisely the sort of serial photography (documentary work aimed at the capture and exploration of typologies rather) you are describing.
posted by Chrischris at 10:44 AM on January 24, 2008

on preview, what squeak said...
posted by Chrischris at 10:44 AM on January 24, 2008

Typology seems right then - I ran across that term in a description of the program by the Guardian, but didn't think that was it --- "In the brave new world that followed the first world war, photography was prized for being a "machine-like" process, somehow objective. Typology, using photography to classify and document the world, was the order of the day. Except nothing is ever that straightforward. In Germany, for example, August Sander's studies of ordinary people were "pregnant with things that cannot be spoken of", perhaps reflecting the chaos of the Weimar Republic. Other photographers had far more explicitly artistic agendas, such as Man Ray using "solarisation" to make his subjects look "sleek and metallic"."
posted by cashman at 10:49 AM on January 24, 2008

Yes, it's all coming back now.
posted by popcassady at 11:07 AM on January 24, 2008

You might also be thinking of New Objectivity, which strictly speaking was a much earlier (i.e. pre-Hitler Germany) trend; it is, however, a term that gets thrown around a lot when speaking of the Bechers' school. August Sander was the main New Objectivity photographer. One other term that often comes up with Sander is Physiognomy, though I don't think that's quite what you're looking for.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:09 PM on January 28, 2008

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