Research project, ECAL 2021


Automated Photography
For the past twenty years, many photographers have been integrating images produced autonomously by machines into their work. We are now witnessing a paradigm shift in the process of creating photography. From photographic capture in the strict sense we move towards practices involving appropriation, automated and computational processes: a phenomenon which reflects a conception of space that is increasingly less built on the equivalence between the human eye and the machine.

The Automated Photography research project (2019–2021) is conducted by Milo Keller in the framework of the MA in Photography at ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne. It is a continuation of the research project Augmented Photography, equally conducted at ECAL (2016–2017), which aimed to question the mutability of the digital image, transformed both in its physical materiality and in its virtual expression. Automated Photography focuses on a specific aspect of these changes, which are omnipresent in contemporary visual culture: the automation of capture systems (smartphones, lidar, UAVs, satellites, space probes), the automation of image processing (machine vision analysis, facial recognition), and the increasing automation of image production and post-production (CGI, photogrammetry, artificial intelligence). 

Automated Photography has a dual objective. On the one hand, it plans to develop a critical theory of the automated image, in order to confront the students of the MA in Photography with its multiple implications (social, political, technical and aesthetic). On the other hand, it proposes to respond to the profound changes in the photographic profession, which must constantly adapt to technological developments. By combining an analytical and a theoretical perspective with considerations resulting from the practical experiences with these technical devices, the project aims to take advantage of the crossroads of these different fields. The synthesis is based on a practical process by applying these technologies, on an aesthetic outlook by analysing the visual qualities of these devices and their creative potential, and on a theoretical approach by assessing the practical results in their cultural, social and political context.


Main applicant
Milo Keller (project leader)

Research team
Claus Gunti (researcher)
Joël Vacheron (researcher)
Florian Amoser (research assistant)
Robin Bervini (research assistant)
Thomas Le Provost (graphic designer)

Visiting lecturers
Marco de Mutiis, Simone C. Niquille, François Zajega, Kurt Caviezel, Lauren Moffatt

Sara Bastai, Emidio Battipaglia, Robin Bervini, Maeva Bosko, Jasmine Deporta, Anja Karolina Furrer, Alessia Gunawan, Christian Harker, Jung-Ting Hu, Johanna Hullár, Sally Jo, Philipp Klak, Doruk Kumkumoglu, Igor Lucena, Natalia Maximova, Valentin Russo, Jelena Schuhmacher, Yang Su, Gedvile Tamosiunaite, Joanna Wierzbicka, Olivia Wünsche, Manqin Zhang

September 2019 – February 2021

Supported by
ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Strategic fund of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO RCDAV)

Gohan Keller, See Me In Depth, 2018
©ECAL/Gohan Keller

Philip Klak, See What Is Left, 2020

©ECAL/Philip Klak

Emidio Battipaglia, All Watched Over By Machine Of Loving Grace Ver 1.1B, 2020

©ECAL/Emidio Battipaglia

Sara Bastai, As We Melt, 2020

©ECAL/Sara Bastai