David Bate

Machinic Unconscious

David Bate is a photo-artist and theorist. Recent publications include the photobooks Photography as Critical Practice: Notes on Otherness (London: Intellect, 2020), Photography: Key Concepts (Routledge, 2019), Art Photography (London: Tate Publications, 2015) Zone (London: Artwords, 2012), and Photography and Surrealism (IB Tauris, 2004). He is currently Professor of Photography at the University of Westminster, London, UK.

Machinic Unconscious 

At the beginning of the Covid-19 ‘lockdown’, as it was called in the UK, I dropped my laptop. As a result the screen was half-broken. The bottom half of the screen no longer worked. Since it was not possible to repair the laptop during lockdown, I worked around this situation with a second screen. Yet, as my eyes were sometimes drawn back to the laptop (whose keyboard I was still using), the broken screen produced startling juxtapositions. The flickering data screen cut in half the visual material I was engaged with on the second screen. This assemblage of scrambled data and the material of the world I was communicating with seemed like a perfect metaphor for both the sense of social isolation created by the lockdown and the digital connection with the wider world that digital media-enabled. The images here are intended to show this paradoxical relation of the social encounter under lockdown and our new data-based social reality.

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