The contemporary mediascape is characterized by continuous and endless remediation flows that re-shape and hybridize the contents, the forms and the vehicles of visual-based media experience. In such a scenario, over the last years photography has gained a central role in negotiating between the need for innovation propelled by digital media and the persistence of its original nature and purposes. On the one hand, the advent of photo-sharing websites and social networks, photography apps for mobile devices, portable hybrid devices for photo and video (e.g. GoPro), set the field for the emergence of new experimental and non-professional media practices that have progressively reshaped the spatiotemporal and sociocultural boundaries of the photographic image. The recent development of photographic devices, technologies and practices created a backfire effect on institutional forms of photographic communication (e.g. photojournalism, auteur photography, art exhibition, travel photography, reportage, camera and film market). On the other hand, such mutations caused a “crisis” of photography theory, since the hypothesis by which the digital transformation of the mediascape would have changed the uses and the ontology of photography, seems to be rebutted, for the latter continues to fulfil the same original concerns: the representation/identification of the self (and the other); the documentation, investigation and reinvention of reality; the poetic discovering of the hidden side of the world; the archiving of individual and collective memories; the crystallization of time and space. In brief, whereas the digital deposed device-content indivisibility, the photographic medium still hold its specificity of the experience and practices (rather than technologies) it enables and the cultural needs it implies and caters to.
Given these premises, the digitalization of photographic aesthetics and related media practices is an elective case 1) to study some of the most challenging mutations in contemporary visual culture and, more broadly, in media culture; 2) to reflect on the reception of such challenges in the field of photography theory. Consequently, this CS special issue aims to critically investigate the “persistence” of the photographic medium through 1) the analysis of concrete objects and phenomena, and 2) the refinement of theoretical approaches to photography, in both cases with particular attention to the aesthetic and phenomenological dimensions of the present-days photographic experience.