Contemporary Photography and Forensic Imagination

Friday, 8 March 2013, at 18:30
Concordia University, EV-1.605 (map)

Vincent Lavoie

Université du Québec à Montréal

Since the 1990s forensic science has increasingly come to dominate our cultural imagination – a phenomenon seen in popular fiction and television series that champion the infallibility of medico-legal expertise. The ‘spectacularization’ of forensics has made it a defining feature of contemporary life, such that literature, television, the biological and human sciences, architecture, critical discourse, and countless other fields are now seen through its prism. Forensics, however, cannot be reduced to a mere technique or procedure that establishes facts: it is, rather, a rhetorical process whose truth claims should not be taken at face value. While this function once was understood, it seems to have been forgotten in our current infatuation. Vincent Lavoie’s ongoing research focuses on a critical examination of the evidentiary value of contemporary images. In this lecture Lavoie will show how recent photographic and artistic interpretations recall forensics’ rhetorical role and assert the imaginary potential found in systems designed to establish the facts.

Vincent Lavoie is an associate professor in the Département d’histoire de l’art, Université du Québec à Montréal. He is the author of Photojournalismes. Revoir les canons de l’image de presse (Hazan, 2010) and of L’instant-monument. Du fait divers à l’humanitaire, (Dazibao, 2001). He has published extensively on photography and visual imagery through contributions to exhibition catalogues, edited collections, and journals. Notably, he was artistic director of the 2003 Mois de la photo à Montréal and the editor of Maintenant. Images du temps présent (Mois de la photo à Montréal, 2003). He is also the editor of Imaginaires du présent. Photographie, politique et poétique de l’actualité (Observatoire de l’imaginaire contemporain, 2012) – the inaugural issue of Cahiers ReMix, an online series of working papers – and of the special issue Forensics: Representations and Regimes of Truth (CV Ciel Variable: 93, February 2013). Lavoie is a member of FIGURA, centre de recherche sur le texte et l’imaginaire (UQAM) and of the editorial board of the journal Études photographiques.

Image: Corinne May Botz,  Three-Room Dwelling (baby’s crib), 2004. Chromogenic print. From the series "The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death."

Of Related Interest

Vicent Lavoie’s faculty page

Photojournalismes. Revoir les canons de l’image de presse

Imaginaires du présent

Photovigie. Carnet de recherche

CV Ciel Variable