Black and white photograph showing 6 boxes of Ilford film, 2 each of FP3, HP3 and Selochrome.

Packaging for Roll Film. Films made by: Ilford Limited. Packaging produced by: The Pembroke Carton & Printing Co. Ltd. Designer of packaging: Milner Grey, RDI., PPSIA of the Design Research Unit. Yellow with variable secondary colour for film type identification. Part of a range forming an identity scheme for the Company.

From its origins in the mid nineteenth century to the present day, photography has been intimately linked with the development of a commodity culture and to the processes of consumption. A one-day symposium organised by Photoforum and the University of Brighton Design Archives explored, from both historical and theoretical perspectives, the various ways in which photography has been central to the circulation of meanings necessary to the continuing evolution of a consumer society while, at the same time, photography itself has been subject to commodification.

The themes explored included: the mass reproduction of photographs and the carte-de visite as mass commodity object; the role of photographic imagery within the ever-expanding market of commercial publishing markets; developments in the rhetoric of advertising tied to the ‘life-style’ and the phenomenon of the celebrity; and the significance of the dematerialization of the photograph as a result of digital and electronic technologies.

Speakers included: Dr David Bate (University of Westminster), Gail Baylis (University of Ulster at Coleraine), Jim Campbell (Arts Institute Bournemouth), Bill Hall (Royal Holloway University of London), Linda Marchant (Nottingham Trent University), Helen Powell and Sylvie Prasad (University of East London), Dr Damian Suttton (Glasgow School of Art).