Introducing... RMIT Gallery

6.1.20

As the RMIT University’s premier exhibition space, RMIT Gallery presents a program of local, Australian and international creative works, research outcomes and cultural stories. We spoke to Shane Hulbert, Associate Dean of Photography at RMIT and one of the curators of the Gallery’s exhibition for PHOTO 2020.

Why is it significant that PHOTO 2020 is taking place in Melbourne? 

Photography is a vibrant part of Melbourne’s culture and history. Melbourne has a lot of photographers, and a lot of institutions that teach, exhibit and critique photography. PHOTO 2020 will provide a focused platform for viewing and discussing images from local, national and international photographers and artists. Photographic festivals are on the rise, establishing new ways for photographers to show their work. RMIT has a long history of photographic education, and is well positioned to be part of the Festival’s exhibition and educational programming. RMIT started teaching photography as a foundation discipline when it first opened its doors in 1887 (as the ‘Working Men’s College’, always including women), making it amongst the oldest continuing programs in the world.

 Why is the relationship between photography and truth important to investigate in the post-internet age? 

Truth, authenticity, fake news and the importance of ‘facts’ form a critical part of our dialogue with contemporary times. The post-internet age has challenged simple concepts of truth, such as separating fact from opinion, validating and/or verifying information, or even seeking multiple sources to confirm facts, truth really has become one the defining issues of our era.

While the photographic image is continuing to inform our notions of truth and authenticity, it is also having an increasingly more central role in the evolution of new technologies, shaping not just our perceptions of truth, but also that of machines.

What excites you the most about being part of PHOTO 2020? 

I’m most interested in celebrating photography with a strong community who will come to Melbourne to be a part of the festival.  I’m excited to see the work, and also to engage in the ideas and discussions that will underpin the festival – this will be of real value to the photographic community, students and the general public. For RMIT Photography to be a part of that, and to be an educational partner, highlights our level of commitment to the discipline, and the importance we place on being part of a global community.

 What can we expect from the Gallery during PHOTO 2020?

The exhibition at RMIT Gallery – curated with three colleagues, Alison Bennett, Rebecca Najdowski and Daniel Palmer – explores the reconfiguration of photography in the context of algorithmic processes, machine vision and networked circulation.  If the photograph has conventionally been understood as a record of memory of the world, what happens when the image looks back?  It features extraordinary work by Australian and international artists, photographers and technologists, each speculating on the social and political ramifications of these profound changes in the ecology of the image.  The exhibition asks how notions of visual truth and human experience are shaped by new technologies of vision.

Shane Hulbert is a Melbourne based artist, curator and academic. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, most notably at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), both in Melbourne, Australia and the Pingyao International Photography Festival in China. He is currently Associate Dean, Photography, at RMIT University in the School of Art.  He writes on contemporary art and art education, and his photographic practice explores the expression of a collective national Australian identity through distinct and popular iconography that connects place, history and culture.