A Look Forward
In my last post, I want to have a look at the challenges that may arise from the increasing use of both still and moving images by photographers. The first is, of course, whether photographer is still an apt term to describe these practitioners, or whether “digital camera artist” and “digital camera art” would not be more adequate terms – thus signaling a certain discontinuity and a distance to those who wish to artificially preserve a certain type of photographic traditionalism and all of its attendant trappings.
Another challenge is how to adequately present still and moving images side by side in an exhibition context, in particular if they are part of one work complex. The possibilities afforded by beamers, monitors, displays, etc. have only been touched upon. Photographers will need a more acute spatial thinking to use their whole potential – the same goes, of course, for curators. Re-inventing the format of the exhibition for digital age has only just begun.
As I have pointed out, photography and film/video were two rather separate disciplines. But if in practice a new paradigm of still and moving images emerges, this may call for new histories that open up a retrospective dialogue. One could imagine more exhibitions that would show photography and film alongside each other, since the technical means to easily do so are available. This would seem logical in particular, since, as Elizabeth Lebovici has pointed out, the more experimental types of film have already migrated to the museum – a sign of the emergence of a new condition that has been accurately described as post-cinematic.
Theorist Steven Shaviro has described this condition as follows: “The movies only gradually lost their dominant role, in the wake of a whole series of electronic, and later digital, innovations. Theorists like Anne Friedberg and Lev Manovich have written about many of these: they include the growth of massively multichannel cable television, the increasing use of the infrared remote, the development of VCRs, DVDs, and DVRs, the ubiquity of personal computers, with their facilities for capturing and editing images and sounds, the increasing popularity and sophistication of computer games, and the expansion of the Internet, allowing for all sorts of uploading and downloading, the rise of sites like Hulu and YouTube, and the availability of streaming video). These developments of video (electronic) and digital technologies entirely disrupted both the movies and traditional broadcast television. They introduced an entirely new cultural dominant, or cultural-technological regime: one whose outlines aren’t entirely clear to us as of yet.”
Most of what is outlined above also applies to photography. Both media are undergoing a massive transformation, which contains also the possibility to recalibrate their relationship with each other. Maybe both “photography” and “cinema” are media formations proper to the 19th and 20th century, now slowly disappearing into a condition that is both post-photographic and post-cinematic.