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The Algorithmic Turn

The Algorithmic Turn

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Published by icarovidaljr
The digital turn, and with it increased use of location-aware technologies, has yielded innovative image applications and posed new questions about the status and value of the image. These applications rely on algorithmically defined relations between the viewing subject and the world viewed, offering robust alternatives to the visual economies of the past. If we take seriously Heidegger’s insights regarding the Welt-bild as a metaphor for the modern era, the algorithmic reconfiguration of subject-object relations in this emerging visual regime potentially offers insights – and a metaphoric alternative – through which we can reflect upon the current era. This essay uses two entry points to explore this possible reconfiguration, and with it, the question of value. Downloadable applications such as Photosynth aggregate location-tagged photographs into a near-seamless whole, and offer a way to consider such issues as collaborative authorship of the image, unstable points of view, and the repositioning of subject-object relationships – all elements that fundamentally challenge Western representational norms dominant in the modern era. In this new regime, the spatial referents of greatest value are points of uniqueness sought out and built upon by the program’s algorithms -- and not those perceived by the viewer. The viewer is in turn free to explore an extensive and dynamic image space unconstrained by (and indeed, without access to) an authorized or ‘correct’ viewing position. A second case, built upon certain augmented reality applications, works by ‘recognizing’ particular spaces and, through the use of computationally enhanced viewing screens, superimposing new images over real space. In this case, a system of virtual spatial annotation depends upon the ‘correct’ positioning of the viewer (and portable computing device) in the world. The virtual image gives the viewer access to an encoded and location-based domain of signification, augmenting her encounters with the world and potentially transforming the meaning of its sights. The two cases stand in a rough reciprocal relationship, one loosening our spatial moors and leaving us to wander
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within a deep, wide and constantly changing image-space ripe with multiple meanings; the other using the requirements of the image to fix our physical place, offering overlays of information and specific meaning. Both cases turn on differing notions of algorithmic intermediation, a reconfiguration of subject-object relations, and new dynamics for the generation of meaning and value.
The digital turn, and with it increased use of location-aware technologies, has yielded innovative image applications and posed new questions about the status and value of the image. These applications rely on algorithmically defined relations between the viewing subject and the world viewed, offering robust alternatives to the visual economies of the past. If we take seriously Heidegger’s insights regarding the Welt-bild as a metaphor for the modern era, the algorithmic reconfiguration of subject-object relations in this emerging visual regime potentially offers insights – and a metaphoric alternative – through which we can reflect upon the current era. This essay uses two entry points to explore this possible reconfiguration, and with it, the question of value. Downloadable applications such as Photosynth aggregate location-tagged photographs into a near-seamless whole, and offer a way to consider such issues as collaborative authorship of the image, unstable points of view, and the repositioning of subject-object relationships – all elements that fundamentally challenge Western representational norms dominant in the modern era. In this new regime, the spatial referents of greatest value are points of uniqueness sought out and built upon by the program’s algorithms -- and not those perceived by the viewer. The viewer is in turn free to explore an extensive and dynamic image space unconstrained by (and indeed, without access to) an authorized or ‘correct’ viewing position. A second case, built upon certain augmented reality applications, works by ‘recognizing’ particular spaces and, through the use of computationally enhanced viewing screens, superimposing new images over real space. In this case, a system of virtual spatial annotation depends upon the ‘correct’ positioning of the viewer (and portable computing device) in the world. The virtual image gives the viewer access to an encoded and location-based domain of signification, augmenting her encounters with the world and potentially transforming the meaning of its sights. The two cases stand in a rough reciprocal relationship, one loosening our spatial moors and leaving us to wander
1
within a deep, wide and constantly changing image-space ripe with multiple meanings; the other using the requirements of the image to fix our physical place, offering overlays of information and specific meaning. Both cases turn on differing notions of algorithmic intermediation, a reconfiguration of subject-object relations, and new dynamics for the generation of meaning and value.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: icarovidaljr on Feb 12, 2014
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