Graziele Lautenschlaeger – Sensing and Making Sense, Photosensitivity and Light-to-sound Translations in Media Art


transcript Verlag, ISBN-13: 978-837653311, English, 264 pages, 2021, Austria

The technologically enhanced senses that humans and machines acquire and negotiate with each other have changed the way we perceive materiality and decipher reality. Photosensitivity in particular addresses two key aspects of our perception: Light and Matter. Graziele Lautenschlaeger explores these aspects in this book, which grew out of her doctoral thesis. It is a “genealogy of photosensitive elements” and how they have been used in media history and art. The book is divided into three chapters and three corresponding dichotomies. The first is “Material-immaterial” which explores the tension between what is visible or tangible and what is not in artworks that use light to enable or regulate their own internal systems. Next, “Organic-machinic” focuses on the creation of mutually influencing media and machines that create hybrid systems and how photosensitivity is essential to investigate our perceptual and material boundaries. Lastly, “Theory and practice” serves as an informative media archaeology of devices such as the photophone, the optophone or the fotoliptófono that inspired artworks such as Jacob’s Heliophone or Constantini’s Phototube. Finally, the author’s fascinating project “Self-portrait of an absence” is explained in detail. This completes this distinctive book with her rare knowledge of the underlying relationships between the biological, the technical and the theoretical.