Research

Dr Burbridge works on the intersection of photography, art and politics, specialising in the contemporary. He is interested in dialogues between current and historical practices, and between photography’s uses as art and its applications within other fields. Much of his work examines how photography is implicated in wider social, cultural and political transformations. He is also interested in relationships between technology and the production and dissemination of images. Burbridge has worked extensively on photography as contemporary art, with a particular interest in the ways in which digital culture impacts upon the production and understanding of art photography. Further interests include photography and the museum, contemporary art and politics, and curating as a critical practice.

In 2015, Burbridge completed work on a long-term body of research that explored relationships between photography, art and nineteenth-century science. This explored the ways in which artists’ uses of photography have been informed and inspired by the medium’s applications in earlier science. This has included similarities between contemporary photographic portraiture and the work of figures such as Charcot and Duchenne; and artists’ interest in pseudo-scientific practices associated with spiritualism. His most recent work has considered artists’ interest in the new forms of vision made available through techniques including high-speed photography, X-Ray, magnetism and photographs of electrical charges; adressing what artists’ changing attitudes to such imagery during a period from the early 20th Century to the present might suggest about the wider cultural contexts in which they are working. The latter was used as the basis for the 2015 Media Space exhibition, Revelations: Experiments in Photography, and an accompanying publication, both of which received international media attention.   

Burbridge has an ongoing interest in the relationship between photography, contemporary art and political activism. Part of this work has explored a wide range of photographic practices in relation to the politics of space. Where existing literature on art and activism has generally focused on issues of participation in socially engaged art and work on photography and politics have centred around issues of contested representation, Burbridge's research has aimed to broker dialogues between the two, considering specific image cultures and the spaces in which they are disseminated. This work has combined Henri Lefebvre’s writing around the social production of space with discussions around spectacle to provide a productive framework within which to think about many and varied aspects of contemporary image culture. Burbridge is particularly interested in potential parallels between works of art and recent examples of activism and civil disobedience. This work provided the basis for the 2012 Brighton Photo Biennial, a special issue of Photoworks magazine, numerous media appearances, and several essays and articles. 

Burbridge's current research addresses the ways in which the advent of the 'networked image' is impacting on the production, dissemination and understanding of contemporary art photography with reference to issues of labour and political agency.