“Non-photography” is a term proposed recently by French philosopher François Laruelle in the book of that name, published in 2011, to describe his innovative method of thinking about photography, a method alien to and disruptive of all prior discussions on the photographic. The “non” in this term is the stranger in the room; it is the one we don’t know.
Throughout his career Laruelle has developed a fractal, axiomatic “non-philosophy” which he has now extended to the aesthetics of photography. Non-photography forces us to think interns of a photographic-in-itself: a non-relational, non-photographer centred method of thinking the existence of the photographic in parallel to the world – rather than as a reflection of it.
Thinking non-photographically is not easy. Can non-photography be used practically? Or does it, as one critic has said, ‘leave us strafed on a bleak moon in a distant galaxy, with odd-looking creatures?’
This paper will give an outline of Laruelle’s concept of non-photography and propose one way in which this thinking can be activated: with an examination of what we might call “accidental photography”.