Matt Johnston

Dr, Dr

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    Personal profile


    For the last 12 years, my research and visual practice has been concerned with the post-millennium situation of the contemporary photobook, how the medium has become central to a small but dedicated ecology, and how it may become better equipped to engage new readerships. My interest in this field has lead to a publication with Onomatopee (Photobooks &, 2021), a PhD on connections made and missed between the photobook and its audience (Completed 2020) and the formation of a global community of readers in more than 50 cities (The Photobook Club) as well as a number of magazine, conference and book contributions. 

    My teaching is split between the BA and MA photography programmes at Coventry University where I currently lead the level 6 module Independent Research and the masters class Objects, Spaces and Boundaries as well as contributing to a range of teaching across the course.  

    Research Interests

    The contemporary photobook: For over a decade I have been investigating the contemporary photobook, its form, function and ecology. My PhD (completed in 2020) looked at the connections between the photobook and its readers between 2004-2018 and my new publication Photobooks & (Onomatopee, 2021) seeks to re-tether the medium to its associated fields and discourses. 

    Post-digital publishing: I have used a post-digital framework to contextualise the contemporary photobook as an artefact that is reliant on hybrid publishing, disenchantment and haptic desires. Alongside this I have written and taught a BA photography module on post-digital photographic publishing practices and have contributed a chapter to Code-X, Paper, Pixel, Screen and Ink (Book Lab and the bookRoom, 2015). 

    Communities and distributed authorship: In 2010 after a series of initiatives with open and connected learning on the undergraduate photography programme at Coventry University, I adopted a distributed authorship model to organise and facilitate a global community of photobook readers. The project (The Photobook Club) has seen countless meetings in more than 50 cities globally and is a respected platform in the photobook community. 

    I am also interested in research collaborations on the following topics: Artists' books and photography, the influence of the American Transcendentalists on contemporary trends, walking as pedagogical aid and narrative in the book. 

    Education/Academic qualification

    Doctorate, Photo/book/club : connections made and missed, digital and other, between the contemporary photobook and its readers, 2004-2018, University for the Creative Arts

    Award Date: 16 Jun 2020

    Postgraduate Certificate, PGCert, Coventry University

    Award Date: 1 Sept 2014


    • NE Print media
    • TR Photography
    • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR


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