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FROM CONSTRUCTION TO VELOCITY
Two areas for today…! What is a digital photograph?! What is new media?
Two issues:! 1. A tipping point – more images seen on-screen than as prints. (An anxiety: what is the proper production-reception-location of a photograph: a disciplinary concern…)! 2. A notion of public space: where are photographs seen?
Two questions to assume, then.! What is the material / immaterial status of the digital photograph?! What are new media’s key characteristics in relation to photographs?
Key deﬁnitions of new media! Context! Characterisitcs!
Context:! - a shift from ‘modern’ to ‘postmodern’ culture and economies! (from the 1960s onwards…)! - a tendency towards globalisation – a shrinking of global ‘space’ and a dissolution of national boundaries (from state to corporation…)! - a move from ‘industrial’ societies to ‘post-industrial’ societies, from the factory to Post-Fordism, from assembly line to immaterial labour (deﬁned by communication technology and connectivity)
Characteristics:! New media as opposed to ‘old’…! A term to use rather than:! digital media / electronic media [too speciﬁc]! interactive media [too ill-deﬁned]! computer-mediated communication / CMC [limitation to a particular machine or practice…]! Can cover: internet, virtual environments, computer assisted representation, video games, chat-rooms, image-boards, mobile phone apps…! New media = a convergence of modes, disciplines, genres, media into the computer.
Key words:! Digitality! Interactivity! Hypertextuality! Dispersal! Virtuality
Other keywords:! Flux / Flow / Flexibility! Network / Connectivity! Convergence!
Key deﬁnitions of a digital photograph…
A rehearsal: Stephen Bull’s Photography! To begin: digital photography a result of 1960s experiments by NASA (how to send visual information across space…)! To reﬂect: the ﬁrst photography-academic writings around digital photography begin in the 1990s…
A movement of positions:! 1. Photography (as we know it) is dead!! Fred Ritchin / W.J.T. Mitchell (1990-1993)! 2. Digital photography extends analogue photography! Photography is always a cut-up of reality / we must address how photography is always implicated in framing the world, in the production of a world (as much as a reproduction)! Lev Manovich / Geoffrey Batchen (1995 - )
3. The material consequences of the digital…! Manovich: the digital is the advent of ‘the society of the screen’! Elizabeth Edwards & Janice Hart: ! Did we always think about photographs as pictures… are they 2D or 3D…! The return of the camera obscura… the screen as the site of pictures in motion – never ﬁxed, with a body in intimate relation...!
Screen viewing:! a return to the camera obscura?
Digital photography:! What relation to the viewing body?! Print: the body moves (leans towards, handles, uses a magnifying loop)! Screen: the image moves (the mouse and keyboard orchestrate the shifting of the image…)! Today? Does the screen get passed around (personal devices, iPods etc.)
Steve Edwards Photography: A Very Short Introduction! 1. Rather than light registered by chemicals it is light (input data) transformed into code, numbers, digits. (Retains an indexical link to the referent, but is more open to manipulation)! 2. It retains no source – analogue media has a physical carrier (a negative) digital is stored data. This has consequences for storage and circulation… ! 3. Spaces of appearance; from print to screen, projector, world-wideweb (access can arrive in non-linear forms)
Steve Edwards Photography: A Very Short Introduction (cont.)! Two positions:! Pros:! Digital photography allows more access to users and audiences, allows a resurgence of serious photographic publication in alternative modes…! “digital photography probably provides the best opportunity for the circulation of serious photographic work since the demise of the picture magazines”! Cons:! The digital moves towards attention deﬁcit disorder, a new form of integrated spectacle…
Steve Edwards Photography: A Very Short Introduction (cont.)! Photographic ‘truth’ being eroded by the digital?! (via Brecht) – A picture of a factory tells us nothing, something must be constructed…! The digital – in its constructive nature – might allow us to see more clearly
Early digital photography…! A question of the ‘construction’ of the image…
Early digital photography…! Images of O. J. Simpson from June 1994 – a case of ‘digital enhancement’…
Brian Walski! 2003! a case of undeclared montage…
Nancy Burson! 1982
Nancy Burson! 1982
Nancy Burson! 1983-5
The analogue: media having an ‘analogous’ relation to the thing…! The digital: media having a numerical relation to the thing… (digits…)! Digitality is a question of mathematics, not physics or chemistry…! “digital… signiﬁes the assignment of numerical values to phenomena”! Martin Lister et al. New Media: A Critical Introduction, Routledge, 2003!
Digital as a question of manipulation:! To edit the analogue – a physical outputting is necessary, then a change is made to that…! Digital media is only ever ﬁxed when outputted into a ﬁxed form (a print) otherwise it is always in potential ﬂux ! Fixity (analogue) Flux (digital)!
Aziz + Cucher! Chris! 1994
Aziz + Cucher! Interior no.2! 1999
Aziz + Cucher! Interior Study no.2! 1999-2000
Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin! The Forest, Andy! 1995
Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin! Me Kissing Vinoodh (passionately)! 1999
Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin! God! 2003
Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin! Lady Gaga! 2011
Nick Knight! for W magazine! 2012
Nick Knight! for Another Magazine! 2009
Nick Knight! Devon! 1997
Andreas Gursky! Rheine II! 1999
Andreas Gursky! Chicago, Board of Trade II! 1999
FIXITY TO NON-FIXITY!! Print media is based on ﬁxed image to material object…! Digital media is based on inherent ﬂuidity! To think of ‘transient photography’! Stephen Bull:! In transition (open to manipulation)! In transit (mobile)! Transient state (ephemeral, erasable) [viral / difﬁcult to erase…]
New media / Old media & interaction, some relations:! One scenario. Film, radio, TV are broadcast media requiring a distinction between production and consumption! A centralised production zone (the Hollywood studio) and a homogenous audience (all people see the same thing)! Another scenario. Networked media (stuff seen on computers…) allow a greater degree of audience selection (the audience can self-select) and also a greater degree of ‘consumer-choice’ (note: cookies and datamining as key part of new media…)! A shift from audience to user, from producer and consumer to prosumer…
Another interactive scenario:! As digital media is in ‘permanent state of ﬂux’ is is available to intervention by users… ! Hence – Youtube mashups, track-jacking, the re-working of images / texts / sounds….
Interactivity and user-generated content …
Examples of a convergence culture:! Our culture “reﬂects the pull and tug of these two media systems: one broadcast and commercial, the other narrowcast and grassroots… Broadcasting provides the common culture, and the Web offers more localised channels for responding to that culture”! Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, 2006
Two forms of interactivity…! The consumer review / the interventionist ﬂashmob…
A new media basic…! The hyperlink.! Hyper – above / beyond / outside! An old media form: footnotes, appendix, glossary…! New media: Allows new forms of connectivity and foregrounds pathways of association…
Hypertextuality:! 1. Allows for a non-linear model of linking data (not an alphabetical arrangement, but an associative linkage)! 2. New media operate by trails of association rather than linear construction or argument… (facebook links vs. book chapters)! The internet as ‘dream-work’ of drifting association…! (New forms of distraction?)! 3. Hypertextuality emphasises the permeability of texts to other texts… distinctions between producer / audience erode – we have (via Pierre Levy) a “reader writer continuum”
The viral meme…! LOLCATS…
To return to broadcast / narrowcast…! Another distinction: broadcast vs. network! Film / radio / TV require a transmission wavelength or distribution channels – means of production and modes of consumption are separated and distinctions retained…! Internet / Digital media operate via computer servers that has input / output potentials, and that are linked (networked) to other devices…
OLD MEDIA / NEW MEDIA! Old media – print technology, broadcast media, one-tomany! New media – digital technology, network, peer-to-peer! What effects does this have on the publication space of photography? ! It does not replace galleries / books / magazines, but offers another space…!
ADD BLINDSPOT BLINDSPOT
A key theorist of networks:! Manuel Castells! The Rise of the Network Society, 1996! A key idea – networked societies give rise to:! the space of ﬂows (a move from local place to ﬂows) – organisational capacity to operate simultaneously without contiguity (next-to…) – places as connected by networks and instant communication / information ﬂow! timeless time (the digital as a compression of space-time) – from measured ‘clock time’ as sequencing – space of ﬂows annihilates this in favor of simultaneity… (everything, at once…)
“The relationship to time is deﬁned by information and communication technology in a relentless effort to annihilate time by negating sequencing: on the one hand by compressing time [split-second ﬁnance, multi-tasking] … on the other hand, by blurring the sequence of social practices, including past, present and future in a random order [hypertext and blurring of being on / off work]” ! Manuel Castells! Communication Power, Oxford University Press, 2009!
Types of virtuality:! That which stands ‘outside’ the actual… (existed before new media…)! The fully immersive virtual simulation…! The ‘communicative space’ (where I am when I am on the telephone)! The relation to identity and community (the avatar, the user-name, the community not deﬁned by space)
Modes of virtuality…! The ‘virtual’ identity! The ‘virtual’ community
Geert Lovinck:! Facebook culture as indicative of the ‘self ’ as the object of promotion! [from self-disclosure to self-promotion]! Within the social network it becomes harder to disentangle public and private selves in the sphere of ‘emotional capitalism’! … a response is a move towards anonymity and aesthetic of insensible things, zones of opacity…! ‘Facebook, Anonymity, Crisis of the Multiple Self ’ in his Networks Without a Cause, Polity, 2011
To conclude:! To think of digital photography is to think of:! 1. The ability to construct and reconstruct the image – its ﬂuid nature…! 2. The space of ﬂows that deﬁnes culture in a network society means that images (words, texts, sounds) have access to a different velocity; they have the capacity to spread, to move, to circulate in new formations…!
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