Tag, digital
5. The Spectre of the Digital

I finished my last post thinking about shifting notions of ‘importance’ and ‘relevance’. This has, in part, been driven by digital technologies and the financial, socio-political and ethical pressures on institutions to give access to their collections, and in ways that connect to contemporary users. Likewise the massive and ever-increasing swirl of images in circulation is, of course, digitally-based, raising very real questions about the very nature of ‘photography’. more

Published: 20.10.2016
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3. More on Categories

This week I want to pick up on the question of categories which has resonated through my last two posts on institutions, hierarchies and non-collections. The extent to which the categories of disciplinary landscapes and languages shape research was brought home to me forcibly when last year I contributed to an ‘at the print’ class for art history students. We were in Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, a major and politically savvy anthropology collection. We pulled from the collection Julia Margaret Cameron’s famous portrait of Charles Darwin. Despite having ‘done’ a Cameron class some weeks before, the students seemed unable to recognise it in any way. more

Published: 03.10.2016
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5. Remnants of the Index: Hanging on to Photographic Values – The Installation Shot

Having reflected on the selfie and how it connects to the canonical qualities attributed to the analogue photograph, in this last blog post, which concludes my series of posts for the “still searching” blog, I will discuss the installation shot as a second example of how traditional values associated with the classic photographic image continue to live on as part of online culture. more

Published: 27.04.2015
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3. Online Image Behavior, Where Photographs Live Today

Whereas the relation between reality and representation was a key concern of classical photography, now, as photography has become digital, the focus has shifted from this single relation to a multiplicity of relations that extend from a photograph. Value is no longer primarily derived from the special relation between the object in front of the lens and the way it is depicted in the photograph, but it is generated by the multiplicities of image visualizations and variations branching off from the initial moment of capture.1Part of this value is also accrued through the generation of metadata. This is the central point of Katrina Sluis and Daniel Rubinstein’s paper titled “Notes on the Margins of Metadata; Concerning the Undecidability of the Digital Image.” In this article, the authors claim that meaning and consequently value is not generated “through indexicality or representation but through the aggregation and topologies of data.” Daniel Rubinstein and Katrina Sluis (2013) “Notes on the Margins of Metadata; Concerning the Undecidability of the Digital Image,” Photographies 6 (1), pp. 151–158. http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/6238/1/DR_KS_Notes_on_the_Margins_of_Metadata.pdf When uploaded, as the artist Kari Altmann aptly describes this process, “the image might aim to move more anonymously in a swarm of similar content. more

Published: 08.04.2015
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2. What I Talk about When I Talk about Photography

If one thinks about photography in medium-specific terms, digitization actually hasn’t introduced any significant challenges to the essence of the photographic moment. Cameras and iPhones that produce digital photographs still contain optical lenses that record light from which an image is generated.1The lenses of the digital devices presently used may have regressed in terms of quality, as Hito Steyerl argues in her text “Proxy Politics: Signal and Noise,” and consequently the process of creating an image increasingly relies on algorithmic computations based on a network of visually proximate images. Nevertheless, the optical lens continues to be a necessary component in the creation of a photographic image, despite Steyerl’s convincing argument that algorithms co-write the photographic image by comparing it to already existing images. As such, photography becomes speculative and relational. Hito Steyerl, “Proxy Politics: Signal and Noise,” in e-flux journal #60 (December 2014), http://www.e-flux.com/journal/proxy-politics/. What has changed, however, is the process of image creation that directly follows from this moment. Whereas analogue photography registered light on paper and in this way created an image, digital photography translates light into data out of which an image is calculated. more

Published: 30.03.2015
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1. Introduction

For this blog, I will address a number of ideas about the contemporary role of photography within digital culture and artistic practice. With the photographic image having become firmly established as the predominant form of online image, photography is now an increasingly pervasive mode of cultural production. As a result, it is important to explore the role of digital photography within the context of photography as both an artistic medium and a specialized field that has emerged over the course of the last two centuries.

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Published: 16.03.2015
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4. Photographers versus Contemporary Artists: Whose Crisis Is Deeper?

Photography and contemporary art are engaged in an entangled relationship with unresolved issues of power. Essentially, photography is one of art’s media, while art is one of photography’s applications. Exactly this is immersing both in an endless chicken-versus-egg causality dispute. Indeed, even if photography is obviously younger than art as such, contemporary art might still be younger than photography—it depends on what we define as the former’s beginning. more

Published: 10.12.2014
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3. Photography versus Contemporary Art: The Case of the Lecture Performance

There is less and less photography (and photographers) in contemporary art exhibitions, but more and more photographs. The photograph is a lens through which we see the contemporary world, which comes to us always already reproduced. Almost every static image we see these days is technically a photograph, since even art critics rarely cross paths with original paintings. In a contemporary art context, photographs abound in “research installations” and archival displays of all sorts; they are shown as a sequence of slides; they appear as stills in films. But recently, they have even begun to star in performances—for instance, in the increasingly popular genre of “lecture performance.” more

Published: 28.11.2014
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6. On Digital and Analogue Books and a Possible Scenario for the Future

(I will take the liberty here to describe my wildest fantasies).

Lorenzo Rocha and Andreas Langen in their discussion on September 24 and 25 raised an interesting point that I want to reflect on.

What could be the new medium for digital images? Do digital images need analogue manufactured books as a presentation medium, or something different or new? more

Published: 28.10.2014
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2. What Works in the Photo Book World Today and What no Longer Works?

The photo book market faces the same challenges that most markets are facing these days. This includes overproduction (or "overpublishing," as we call it in our world), a shrinking customer base in the main markets (Europe, USA), changing distribution channels, discount wars, and competition from other media (e-books, online information, print on demand), to name just a few. The competition of the Rencontres d'Arles festival can serve as an example for the current overflow:

All the photo books that were submitted to the book award competition at Rencontres d'Arles, 2014. Only two of them will win awards.

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Published: 23.09.2014
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1. The Current Scene of Photo Book and Art Book Publishing, As I See It

Welcome to everyone following this blog!

I am not a theoretician, nor overly intellectual, nor an art historian, nor a regular writer – just a manic art book publisher who, after 25 years in the business of making art and photography books, has taken a break to consider the years gone by. I am taking a deep breath of freedom now, granting myself the time to indulge my curiosity about our world in general, and that of art and photography in particular, as this was the world to which I have devoted my life during the last decades. So, for a while, I will change my position of an insider to that of an outsider, to explore a different perspective and new ideas. more

Published: 14.09.2014
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01.03.–15.04.2014
4. Geographies of Photography

Over the last few weeks I’ve been laying out some ideas about what photography has become, and have begun to articulate some of the ways I use to think about it. In previous posts, I wrote about replacing a more conventional idea of photography with the idea of seeing machines and put forward the idea of “scripts” to begin understanding how seeing machines function, i.e. how they act upon the world. I wrote about scripts as being the range of activities that a seeing machine “wants” to do, and the range of possibilities that those “wants” facilitate, and the range of possibilities that are foreclosed. To illustrate the idea, I used the example of an Automated Number Plate Reading (ANPR) system, and tried to show how the cameras, shutters, and lenses of such as system are totally irrelevant without the “back end” of signal processing, data bases, analytics, search algorithms, and the like. All of these add up to a seeing machine that “wants” to perform a rather narrow range of tasks, and thereby sculpts the world in some very specific ways. more

Published: 11.04.2014
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15.01.–28.02.2014
1. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?

Happy new year everyone on “still searching”.

This is my first real attempt at writing a blog, and I want to thank the Fotomuseum Winterthur for inviting me. I have to beg readers to bear with me while I adjust my academic style to something more conversational, hoping indeed to continue the lively conversation on “Still Searching”. I say continue, because even though I mostly want to concentrate on history — how do we, how should we, write histories of photography today, in 2014? — I would like to interact with previous bloggers here, especially Marvin Heiferman’s very suggestive comments and questions in the previous series.

One big question is about the continuing sense that we are witnessing an “explosion” of images, linked with the digital revolution. Marvin commented on this in his post on “The River”.  This is obvious, and yet it is something troubling, historically, because we have a very large record of previous expressions of the same sense — descriptions and interrogations about “a flood of pictures”, since at least the 1850s. more

Published: 14.01.2014
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01.11.–15.12.2013
4. Here's Looking at Me

In a defining moment of Nan Goldin’s 1980s slideshow, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, the lyrics to the Velvet Underground’s classic 1967 song—I’ll be your mirror/Reflect what you are, in case you don't know…'Cause I see you—are heard as slides of women looking at their reflections in mirrors are projected, one after another, every four seconds. Mirrors, a much-used device in Goldin’s magnum opus, serve as constant reminders of our attempts to see ourselves clearly in reflective surfaces, through the eyes of others and, of course, through photography.

Nan Goldin, Self-Portrait with Milagro, The Lodge, Belmont, MA 1988, 1988. Silver dye bleach print, 69.5 × 101.6 cm. © Nan Goldin/Courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

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Published: 13.11.2013
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1. A Moving Target

Using Still Searching as a shared space, what I hope to do over the next six weeks is both to stimulate a dialog and extend a project I’ve been working on lately, which involves taking a broad look at photography as the medium itself is in the midst of transformation. To that end, watch for links I’ll post periodically to online news reports and timely stories about provocative images, events, and issues in visual culture. more

Published: 01.11.2013
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3. The Opacity of Photography

One of my students recently declared she believed there was nothing to learn from Flusser’s writings on photography. For her, digital technology expanded the possibilities of photography well beyond what Flusser described as the pre-defined program contained within the camera apparatus. The same went for the idea of the impenetrability of the “black box,” which seemed ludicrous in today’s context of widely shared technical astuteness and the infinite possibilities offered by photo-editing software. If Flusser’s work certainly appears dated in some ways, as Walead Beshty suggested in one of his posts on this blog, discussing the 1986 essay “The Photograph as Post-Industrial Object,” other texts, notably the lectures given in Arles in 1984 that were later re-worked into the book Towards a Philosophy of Photography, are still well worth reading. more

Published: 21.03.2013
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