Although, o course, our desiresare increasingly abricated by oursocieties, experts in hype and brand-ing, to the point where an apple mustbe nostalgically labelled as ‘organic’so as to give us a greater sense osatisaction when we buy it. The‘natural’ (another contested term)is part o the branding process.The era o thephotograph beingautomaticallycredible is over, orbetter and or worse.So photographs are less useul or evidence, andas a result we are less sure o what is going on inthe world. This can be a welcome change - with-out the photograph’s certainties we are invitedto interrogate issues and events, to understandor ourselves.The artist working in photography (or ‘writingwith light’) has an enormous number o newstrategies possible, and new themes to plumb.The addition/subtraction/linking o media, linearand non-linear (hypertextual) narratives, theephemeral screen versus palpable paper, theplaying with time (in a digital world where timehas become an abstraction), the playing withspace (where our closest neighbours might bethose physically urthest away), the playingwith lie orms/identities as code (computercode/DNA), and the playing with credulity(what is it? what is it not? why?).The artists will nd theirvoices, but they, like us, are just becoming acquaintedwith the transormed universethat the digital is meant todescribe, one that is morequantum than Newtonian,based more on probabilitiesthan certainties, withenormous ree-oatingchaos (akin to what happenedtwo millennia ago with theadvent o major religions).Will all this media help us understand what wehave done to our planet and what we should doabout it? Will we want to help? Or will we remainincreasingly oblivious, as i we don’t live here but insome virtual spaces? (This is the new immortality- avoiding not only who but where we are.)Van Gogh was liberated to see the worlddierently by photography, the railroad, thepocket watch, and the Industrial Revolution.We too (some o us) can be liberated by theevents o recent decades to make other kindso imagery. What we produce will probablybe much dierent than the photographs byHenri Cartier-Bresson (who needs a ractionalinstant when we have abstracted time?) orby Don McCullin (empathetic pictures o warand amine hardly resonate anymore).Maybe (one can hope) our images won’talways be so rectangular.Maybe they will dance.Most o all wehave to rstnd ourselves- spiritually andpolitically -beore ‘whatis next’ can beworth verymuch.And we mayhave to doit this timewith our eyessomewhataverted.Remember the photographthat made us believe thatsomething existed? Itis largely a relic o thetwentieth century, alongwith reading, debating anddiscussion based uponagreed-upon acts.Now acts are viewed asan expression o opinionabout which we need to besceptical (the ultimate signo a consumerist society, andone that can easily turn toascism). It is all aboutdesire anyway.Instead o becoming a photo-grapher, gure out what to do withthe enormous numbers o images -how to nd the relevant ones,present them, contextualize them,link them, meld them with othermedia, use them eectively. Thistoo is ‘writing with light.’ And thentake a deep breath (never orget tobreathe), and start making the newkinds o imagery that a digital/quantum/code-based/abstracted/semi-virtual/problematicworld requires.
Fred ritchinFred ritchin