2018

What effects do recent developments in computer vision have on photographic media and forms? What is the role of photographers within this transforming apparatus? As Artificial Intelligence not only learns to see and analyze images, but also potentially re-define the notion of ‘representation’, what are the critical implications of new imaging devices, socially, politically and culturally?

Katriona Beales, Geoff Cox and Mario Klingemann worked together to rethink the social values ascribed by machine vision systems and produced by computational image analysis. In their speculative project, they put forward an idea of a “machinic punctum”, or an alternative algorithmic vision disconnected from the capitalist knowledge economy. Exploring the algorithms behind the categorisation of images, their attempt was to remove all predefined classifications and focus instead on the ambiguity of the images most popular machine vision programs are not equipped to process. This alternative act of categorising rejects technologically produced hierarchies and foresees an image which is simultaneously “the most and least wanted”.

Our social interactions happen increasingly through online sharing platforms. How is our representation of the self changing and how does “social media photography” affect our identity and our social interactions? What is the role of photography in the age of universal voyeurism, Instagram stalking, celebrity hackerazzis and internet exhibitionism?

Maddy Varner and Nina Wakeford collaboratively prototyped an alternative online space for social exchange. Starting from rethinking our social relations in contemporary internet platforms, they moved towards an exploration of different relational and affective positions that are more meaningful than the “like” and “share” functions of social media. Inspired by dada practices of collaging from the early 20th century, Varner and Wakeford created a digital space for collective cutting and pasting, realising a social collage for the screen-age. The project is live and working at www.c-vvvvvvvv.group.

Images online compete for our attention, which in turn has become a currency of a specific economy. From memes to clickbaits, from cat videos to food porn, we are constantly lured and distracted, our time and gaze tracked, our attention quantified through the number of likes and followers. What are the possible futures of the image economy? How can this seemingly invisible ecosystem be exposed, challenged and critically discussed within the photographic field?

Manetta Berends, Nicolas Malevé and Sebastian Schmieg infiltrated the captcha system to create an ambiguous and ironic online club. Unlike normal captcha systems, where completion of tasks is instrumental to the access of a certain social media platform or online site, their prototype fragments.club offers a captcha that is both the task that requires labour as well as its final product to be enjoyed as a consumer. By selecting images and video fragments, the captcha user creates a tiny narrative and is left with the chance to invite a new member. Through this simple act, digital micro labour is turned into a collective creation tool that is passed on via single invitations and offers the possibility of creating a potentially never-ending visual narrative.

How is photography affected by the shift that sees images more transmission-oriented, constantly circulated over global networks and infinitely reproducible? Has photographic exchange become more democratic or just part of a different system of power? How do the properties of the network affect ideas of truth and representation in photographic media? Has the networked image increased propaganda or resistance?

Ramon Amaro, Anthon Astrom and Dina Kelberman attempted to create an alternative photographic idea challenging the traditional notion of authorship and control of the photographer. Through their prototype mobile app, they have introduced a form of “relational photography” which requires multiple people to create one photographic image. The user of the app is required to work with other people in creating an image, which is split in several components (e.g. saturation, brightness, sharpness, foreground, background etc.) and comes together as the sum of its part, rather than the product of a single author.

From screenshots to in-game photography, from CGI to neural networks, photographs are less and less dependent on the material world. Can we think of photography when no light, no lens and no physical subject is needed? What happens when photography is entirely simulated, virtualized or built from scratch through algorithms?

Adam Brown, Tabea Iseli and Alan Warburton joined forces to create an interactive play installation that questions ideas of photographic capture and the act of seeing. Through the use of several sensors, their prototype scans the room for people. If no human is detected, a wild feline is shown on screen, unseen and in a state of paradoxical existence and non-existence reminiscent of Schrödinger’s thought experiment. Through a playful approach the project challenges the relationship between the photographer and her subject, as well as the player and the machine she interacts with.