WHAT IS AN OPEN BOOK?

WHAT IS AN OPEN BOOK?


Photomediations: An Open Book redesigns a coffee-table book as an online experience. Through a comprehensive introduction (Chapter 1) and four chapters (Chapters 2-5) featuring over 200 images drawn from various open repositories, it tells a unique story about the relationship between photography and other media. The book also contains three open chapters, the content of which can develop and grow over time: a collection of essays about the idea of photomediations (Chapter 6); a social space (Chapter 7); and an exhibition (Chapter 8, coming in 2015-2016). Photomediations: An Open Book is an experiment in open and hybrid publishing – as well as a celebration of the book as a living object. The Book is part of Europeana Space, a project funded by the European Union's ICT Policy Support Programme under GA n° 621037. It is being made available under the CC BY licence 4.0. Individual licences apply to all included images, as indicated.

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EDITORS

EDITORS

Editors of Photomediations: An Open Book

Professor Joanna Zylinska

Professor Joanna Zylinska (Project Leader) is Professor of New Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. The author of five books on media, technology, art and ethics, she is also a photographic artist and a curator of online and offline shows. She is currently working on nonhuman photography.


Dr Kamila Kuc

Dr Kamila Kuc is an academic, curator, writer and experimental filmmaker, as well as Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of numerous publications on experimental film. Her own short films have been screened at various festivals – e.g. Alternative Film/Video in Belgrade, Serbia (2014) and Experiments in Cinema Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico (2015).


Jonathan Shaw

Jonathan Shaw is Co-director of the Disruptive Media Learning Lab at Coventry University; visiting fellow at the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice at Bournemouth University; and Chair of the Association for Photography in Higher Education in the UK. His work blurs the boundaries between the still and moving image.


Ross Varney

Ross Varney is an Assistant Lecturer in Media at Coventry University. His research interests encompass the moving image, screen-based media, fan cultures, digital curation and open publishing. His recent practice-based work includes JISC, AHRC, Arts Council and EU-funded collaborations around digital curation, open publishing and open pedagogic practice. He has published co-authored papers for The International Journal of Performing Arts and Digital Media and the Body, Space and Technology Journal.


Dr Michael Wamposzyc

Dr Michael Wamposzyc is a designer, researcher and educator, currently working as an Associate Lecturer in Contextual and Theoretical Studies at the London College of Communication. He is the author of several theoretical and experimental publications on visual communication, typography and systems of notational iconicity. His current work focusses on design research methodology and diagrammatics.


Project Advisor

Professor Gary Hall

Professor Gary Hall is Professor of Media at Coventry University and author and editor of many books on culture and technology – including Digitize This Book!: The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now (2008) and (co-authored) Open Education: A Study in Disruption (2014). A pioneer of radical open access, he is a co-founder of the online journal Culture Machine, and a founding co-director of the scholar-led publishing house Open Humanities Press.


1. PHOTOMEDIATIONS: AN INTRODUCTION

1. PHOTOMEDIATIONS: AN INTRODUCTION


It is perhaps not too much of an overstatement to describe photography as a quintessential practice of life. Indeed, over the last few decades photography has become so ubiquitous that our very sense of existence is shaped by it. In the words of Susan Sontag, ‘To live is to be photographed, to have a record of one’s life, and therefore to go on with one’s life oblivious, or claiming to be oblivious, to the camera’s nonstop attentions’.1 We regularly see ourselves and others represented by the photographic medium, in both its formal and informal guises – from the documentation of our life in its foetal stage via medical imaging, through to the regular recording of our growth and maturation in family, school and passport photographs; the incessant capture of the fleeting moments of our life with phone cameras; and the subsequent construction of our life’s ‘timeline’ on social media. We also make sense of the world around us through seeing it imaged. While photography used to be something that others – professionals equipped with large machines that allowed them to capture a better image of the world out there, advertisers trying to sell us chunks of that world, photojournalists dispatched to the world’s remote corners that few of us could regularly access – did, we can safely say that, in the age of the camera phone and wireless communication, we are all photographers now. With ‘the lighting, optics, resolution, dynamic range, storage capacity and display of professional digital cameras [being] continuously improved’,2 the technological developments rapidly cascade down to everyday consumers.

Yet we are all not just photographers today: we have also become distributors, archivists and curators of the light traces immobilised on photo-sensitive surfaces. As Victor Burgin aptly points out, ‘the most revolutionary event in the recent history of photography is not the arrival of digital cameras as such, but rather the broadband connection of these cameras to the Internet – in effect turning every photograph on the Web into a potential frame in a boundless film’.3 One could perhaps go so far as to say that the availability of relatively low-cost storage and networked distribution of digital data has changed the very ontology of the photographic medium. Photographs function less as individual objects or as media content to be looked at and more as data flows to be dipped or cut into occasionally. The intensity and volume of photographic activity today, and the very fact that it is difficult to do anything – order food, go on holiday, learn about the Moon, have sex – without having it visualised in one way or another, before, during or as part of the experience, gives credence to Sontag’s formulation that ‘the photographs are us’. ‘Andy Warhol’s ideal of filming real events in real time – life isn’t edited, why should its record be edited? – has become a norm for countless Webcasts, in which people record their day, each in his or her own reality show’.4

Yet, in spite of the embedding of the imaging process in the experience of life on so many different levels, the traditional scholarly and curatorial way of discussing photography still maintains a relatively narrow set of positions and discourses on the topic. The plethora of activities in which photographs are involved as not just objects but also participants of events still tend to be subsumed under one of the two general rubrics: photography as art or photography as social practice. The first rubric, rooted in the methodology of art history, is encapsulated by numerous histories of photography – from Beaumont Newhall’s modernist classic The History of Photography from 1839 to the Present through to Michael Fried’s 2008 volume, Why Photography Matters As Art As Never Before – presented as stories of the evolution of the medium, enacted by those separate few deemed ‘artists’. Photography is seen here as an extension, or even overcoming, of painting. In this view, photographs are positioned as discrete objects that yield themselves to being framed and displayed, individually or in series, on flat surfaces in galleries and other cultural institutions. Photographs positioned as art objects are then analysed in aesthetic and semiotic terms, i.e. in terms of how they affect us and what they mean. Photography functions here as ‘the “auristic” artefact…, in which concepts such as “pure vision”, “intelligent eye” and “significant form” are privileged’.5 The value of photographs as singular items is also increasingly tied to the market, with news outlets regularly reporting stories about ‘the most expensive photograph ever sold’. Photographs as art objects are therefore always potential commodities, with their singularity and uniqueness validated by the transaction between established auction houses, art galleries, collectors, and, last but not least, artists themselves.

The second rubric under which photography tends to be categorised is the one inspired by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s book, Photography: A Middle-Brow Art. This more contextual perspective offered by Bourdieu looks not so much at how people take and make photographs, as at what they do with them: how they store images in family albums; how they join camera clubs; how ‘professionals’ are different from ‘amateurs’; how they all contribute to the emergence of ‘popular taste’ around photography. The area of photography as professional practice – mainly in the documentary and photojournalistic tradition, but also in fashion and advertising – falls in-between these two traditional rubrics, with the market once again acting as an adjudicator of appropriate categorisation. And thus the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson or Richard Avedon becomes ‘art’, while many street or fashion photographers who showcase their work for free on public platforms such as Flickr or 500px are seen as hobbyists. Portrait or wedding photography largely remains outside the ‘art’ designation, with the latter’s expectations of ‘aura’ and ‘pure vision’. The outcomes of such professional practice tend to ‘conform’, instead, ‘to a photographic program’, to cite Vilém Flusser.6 Indeed, their success relies precisely on this conformity. The work of wedding or portrait photographers is therefore rarely analysed as ‘work’ but more as ‘labour’ (as in the widespread lamentations about the devaluation of the photographic profession, the falling rates for images, etc.). It is principally ‘read’ in sociological terms and perceived as a tool for capturing and archiving personal memories, and thus, again, as a conduit for social behaviour.

The inadequacy of this rather rigid binary categorisation of photography into art and social practice has been put into question by many. Attempts to open up the narrowly defined category of ‘photography as art’, and to cast light across the spectrum of various photographic practices, beyond the artist-professional-amateur triangle, have been made from various corners. Geoffrey Batchen, for instance, has called for a new history of photography that ‘traces the journey of an image, as well as its origin’, ‘acknowledges that photographs have multiple manifestations and are objects as well as images’, and ‘sees beyond Europe and the United States, and is interested in more than the creative efforts of a few white men’.7 The idea of the photograph’s journey raised by Batchen has been taken up by various artists, curators and scholars in their attempts to position photographs as unstable objects, always involved in the process of movement. As curator of the 2011 Paris Photo fair Chantal Pontbriand has put it in the exhibition’s catalogue titled Mutations, ‘The image becomes flexible, polymorph, more than ever temporal, but also corporeal’.8 This altered perception of photography as an unbounded mobile object has also led to the exploration of photography’s links with cinema, and to the embracing of the media ‘contamination’ of the current photographic landscape as an artistic and a conceptual opportunity.

One book that deserves a mention is the aptly titled Photography Changes Everything published by Aperture in 2012. A unique manifesto for the transformative power of photography put together by curator and writer Marvin Heiferman, it arose out of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative’s project during which theorists, artists, scientists, professional photographers and members of the public contributed short postulates on the changing photographic condition. Heiferman’s own entry sums up this condition most adequately:

By its very nature, photography slows time to a standstill in order to corral and flash-freeze information. But just as impressively and importantly, photography is active; it keeps things moving … Photographs don’t only show us things, they do things. They engage us optically, neurologically, intellectually, emotionally, viscerally, physically. … [A]s photography changes everything, it changes itself as well…9

Photomediations: An Open Book takes off from these recent development around the technology of photography and around different ways of theorising photography as a diverse practice that not only changes ‘everything’ but that also undergoes constant change. Yet it is perhaps even more ambitious and daring in its approach than the projects mentioned above. Responding to the inadequacy of the rigid formulations and categories through which photography has been perceived and approached, it proposes instead that it may be time to transform radically, rather than just expand, the very notion of photography. The concept of photomediations is therefore offered as a richer and more potent conceptual alternative. To think in terms of photomediations is not to try and offer just a new art history of photography, as attempted by Burgin, Batchen and Ya’ara Gil Glazer, but also a different narrative about the medium, one that remains more attuned to its radically changing ontology. Indeed, the notion of photomediations aims to cut across the traditional classification of photography as suspended between art and social practice in order to capture the dynamism of the photographic medium today, as well as its kinship with other media – and also, with us as media. It therefore offers a radically different way of understanding photography.

The framework of photomediations adopts a process- and time-based approach to images by tracing the technological, biological, cultural, social and political flows of data that produce photographic objects. Etymologically, the notion of photomediations brings together the hybrid ontology of ‘photomedia’ and the fluid dynamism of ‘mediation’. Allowing us to sidestep the technicist distinction between analogue and digital photography, as well as – more radically perhaps – that between still and moving image, the concept of photomedia foregrounds instead what is common to various kinds of light-based practices under discussion. As Jai McKenzie argues, ‘regardless of technological change, light is a constant defining characteristic of photomedia intrinsically coupled with space and time to form explicit light-based structures and experiences’.10 For McKenzie, photomedia encapsulate not just photographic cameras but also cinema, video, television, mobile phones, computers and photocopiers. This definition takes cognisance of the fact that, to cite Jonathan Shaw, over the last decade the photographic apparatus has been ‘reunited with its long lost child, the moving image, … (arguably) … having given birth to it many years ago’.11 The concept of mediation, in turn, highlights precisely this intertwined spatial and temporal nature of photography, pointing as it does to a more processual understanding of media that has recently been taken up by scholars and artists alike. Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska’s Life after New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process makes a case for a significant shift in the way we understand so-called ‘media’. Rather than focus on the analysis of discrete media objects, such as the computer, the camera or the iPad, it suggests a richer perspective will open up if we understand media predominantly in terms of processes of mediation, and see them as always already entangled and networked, across various platforms and scales. For Kember and Zylinska,

Mediations does not serve as a translational or transparent layer or intermediary between independently existing entities (say, between the producer and consumer of a film or TV program). It is a complex and hybrid process that is simultaneously economic, social, cultural, psychological, and technical. Mediation, we suggest, is all-encompassing and indivisible. This is why ‘we’ have never been separate from mediation. Yet our relationality and our entanglement with nonhuman entities continues to intensify with the ever more corporeal, ever more intimate dispersal of media and technologies into our biological and social lives. Broadly put, what we are therefore developing in Life after New Media is not just a theory of ‘mediation’ but also a ‘theory of life’, whereby mediation becomes a key trope for understanding and articulating our being in, and becoming with, the technological world, our emergence and ways of intra- acting with it, as well as the acts and processes of temporarily stabilizing the world into media, agents, relations, and networks.12

Following from the above insight, we could perhaps go so far as to conclude that the photograph as such never just exists on its own. Instead, what emerges are multiple and ongoing processes of photomediation. Seen in this light, photography names an active practice of cutting through the flow of mediation, where ‘the cut’ operates on a number of levels: perceptive, material, technical, and conceptual. In other words, photography can be described as a practice of making cuts in the flow of imagistic data, of stabilising data as images and objects. Performed by human and nonhuman agents alike, with the latter including the almost incessantly working CCTV cameras, Google Street View equipment and satellite telescopes, those cuts participate in the wider process of imaging the world.

In its coupling with movement, the notion of photomediations foregrounds another key aspect of photography: its embeddedness in the flow of time, duration and hence life itself. Seen in this light, photography as part of the process of photomediations presents itself as an inherent part of life in a stronger sense than the one discussed at the beginning of this Introduction: photography does not merely represent life but also participates in its active cutting and shaping. To say this is to make an attempt to wrest photography away from its long-standing association with mummification and death, and to show its multifarious and all-encompassing activity – which does include moments of cutting, freeing, stoppage, decay and even demise, but which is not limited by them. Indeed, the conceptual framework of photomediations allows us to move beyond seeing photography as just a tomb, a fossilised version of the past the way modernist theorists of the image such as André Bazin perceived it. It also allows us to challenge the image of photography as first and foremost a placeholder for the memory of the deceased, the way Roland Barthes defined it in the now classic Camera Lucida – a volume that arguably set the melancholy tone for the academic discourse on photography. Yet, in the words of Catalan photographer and writer Joan Fontcuberta, photographs can perhaps be seen more productively as ‘exclamations of vitality’.13

The recognition of the on-off activity of the photographic process, which carves life into fragments while simultaneously reconnecting them to the imagistic flow, may allow us to conclude not only that there is life in photography, but also that life itself is photographic. As Claire Colebrook puts it, ‘All life … can be considered as a form of perception or “imaging” where there is not one being that apprehends or represents another being, but two vectors of creativity where one potential for differentiation encounters another and from that potential forms a relatively stable tendency or manner’.14 This idea has its root in the nineteenth-century philosopher Henri Bergson’s book, Matter and Memory, where our experience of the world, which is always a way of sensing the world, comes in the form of images, before it is transformed into concepts. Life is thus always photomediated – or even, we could say, life is a sequence of photomediations.

The notion of photomediations has made its way to an online platform called Photomediations Machine, set up by Joanna Zylinska and Ting Ting Cheng in 2013, which has served as a first practical testing ground for its conceptual and visual working. Taking the inherent openness and entanglement of various media objects on board, Photomediations Machine is as a curated online space where the dynamic relations of mediation as performed in photography and other media can be encountered, experienced and engaged. First and foremost, Photomediations Machine serves as an online gallery for unique projects, both recent and historical, that creatively engage with the technological and socio-political dynamism of the photographic medium. The site also features short critical essays on recent developments around photomedia by international writers and artists. Last but not least, Photomediations Machine showcases books and other publications that comment on, or even enact, the current multiple mediations of photography and other media, such as sound, painting, video, or, indeed, the book itself. The site is run on a pro bono basis by a group of academics and artists. The project is non-commercial, non-profit and fully open access. Its machinic affiliation signals that photographic agencies and actions have not always been just human.

Photomediations: An Open Book is the next step on this experimental journey with and across the photographic medium. Even though Photomediations Machine and Photomediations: An Open Book are open platforms, they certainly do not associate openness with an ‘anything goes’ (or, worse, ‘everything is up for grabs’) approach. Part of the academic movement of ‘radical open access’15 that promotes open access to knowledge and cultural heritage, they promote the need for informed and responsible curatorial activity. They also recognise the need for singular ethical and political decisions to be made, over and over again, with regard to both the medium and its institutions, such as galleries, online spaces and intellectual property/copyright, in the current media landscape. A significant portion of the material presented in Photomediations: An Open Book may look like conventional photographs, although even at first glance the reader will hopefully be able to appreciate the multiple trajectories established between the images. The images included in the book come from a variety of open repositories. Some originate with established cultural institutions and well known photographers, while others have been taken from social media platforms and little known Internet users (with all permissions checked and appropriately referenced). No matter what their provenience or history, all the images have been individually captioned – partly to remind readers and viewers of an almost bygone era ‘when photographs had titles’, but also to encourage them to slow down when looking at the media flow, and to carve out their own meaningful stoppages in it.16

More importantly, the individual images themselves, which include photographic stills, movie excerpts and gif animations, are only meaningful as part of the broader visual and textual narrative about photomediations which has been arranged by the book’s curators. As well as this introduction, the book includes four chapters (Chapters 2-5) that showcase images takes from various open repositories, followed by three ‘open chapters’ (Chapters 6-8) that transcend the boundaries of this book. Chapter 2, ‘Photography, Optics and Light’, tells a nonlinear history of photography as a story of vision and its accompanying bio-technical devices – the first of which is of course the eye. ‘The Image in Motion’, in turn, investigates properties of movement as a process that both brings together and separates the interrelated histories of photography and film. The subsequent chapter, ‘Hybrid Photomediations’, looks at various escapees from the history of photography proper. It highlights the diversity of media engagements, in early photographic practice as well as in more recent, and more knowing, experiments with the image-making apparatus. Last but not least, ‘The Networked Image’ goes beyond looking at the photograph as a discrete object to consider it as part of the interconnected – and constantly changing – media ecology. Amongst the three open chapters, Chapter 6 links to an open reader of scholarly writings on photomediations; Chapter 7 connects to a social space, while Chapter 8 features an exhibition.

‘Permutation, combinatorics, poetry from a machine; cutting up, taking apart, and putting together again’ were, according to media historian Siegfried Zielinski, gestures used by the literary avant-garde in the 1960s ‘to creatively attack the bourgeois tradition of the post-war manufacturing of culture’.17 In the early twenty-first century culture of the supposed image deluge, predefined camera programmes and Instagram, an avant-garde gesture can perhaps lie first and foremost in efforts to remap the photographic landscape – and to rewrite its discourses. Rather than pursue the possibility of taking an original photo of a wedding or a unique selfie, we would be better off engaging in the creative activity of photography by trying to arrange different routes through the multi-layered landscape of photomediations. The curatorial paths proposed in the book (as evident in the chapter headlines), which bring together sequences of images from Europeana and other open repositories available on the Web, and which also go back to various spaces on- and offline, are only one possible way of tracing such a new story of photography. They are also an invitation extended to our readers to engage fully with the spirit of this open book and to mark their own photomediations routes, well beyond the book’s virtual covers.

Text by Joanna Zylinska



Notes

[1] Susan Sontag, ‘Regarding The Torture Of Others’, The New York Times, May 23 (2004), accessed on January 7, 2015.

[2] All Our Yesterdays. Life through the Lens of Europe’s First Photographers (1839 – 1939), EuropeanaPhotography exhibition catalogue (Rome: ICCU, 2014), 17.

[3] Victor Burgin, ‘Mutating Photography’, Chantal Pontbriand, ed. Mutations: Perspectives on Photography (Gőttingen, Steidl, 2011), 144.

[4] Sontag, ‘Regarding The Torture Of Others’.

[5] Ya’ara Gil Glazer, ‘A New Kind of History? The Challenges of Contemporary Histories of Photography’, Journal of Art Historiography, Number 3 December 2010, 1-19, 8.

[6] Vilém Flusser, Into the Universe of Technical Images (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 56.

[7] Cited in Glazer, ‘A New Kind of History?’, 3.

[8] Chantal Pontbriand, ‘Introduction: Mutations in Photography’, Chantal Pontbriand, ed. Mutations: Perspectives on Photography (Gőttingen, Steidl, 2011), 13.

[9] Marvin Heiferman, ‘Introduction’, Marvin Heiferman, ed., Photography Changes Everything (New York: Aperture/Smithsonian, 2012), 16-20.

[10] Jai McKenzie, Light and Photomedia: A New History and Future of the Photographic Image (London: IB Tauris, 2014), 1.

[11] Jonathan Shaw, ‘Hybridity and Digital Transformations’, Jonathan Shaw (ed.), NewFotoScapes (Birmingham: The Library of Birmingham, 2014), 4.

[12] Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska, Life after New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process (Cambridge: MA, MIT Press, 2012), xv

[13] Joan Fontcuberta, Pandora’s Camera: Photogr@phy After Photography (London: Mack, 2014), 27.

[14] Claire Colebrook (2010) Deleuze and the Meaning of Life (London and New York: Continuum), 31.

[15] See Gary Hall (2008) Digitize This Book!: The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press); Janneke Adema and Gary Hall (2013) ‘The Political Nature of the Book: On Artists’ Books and Radical Open Access’, New Formations, Number 78 (Summer): 138-56.

[16] Laura Cumming, ‘Drawn By Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection review’, The Guardian, Sunday 11 January 2015.

[17] Siegfried Zielinski, [… After the Media] (Minneapolis: Univocal, 2013), 58.


2. PHOTOGRAPHY, OPTICS AND LIGHT

2. PHOTOGRAPHY, OPTICS AND LIGHT


It all began with the eye. For centuries vision has been documented in drawing, painting, and eventually, in the mechanically reproducible media of photography and film. The modern age of industrialization defined the world as being seen through a lens. Photography ‘has become a powerful means of communication and a mode of expression that touches our life in many ways’.1 In contemporary culture, images ‘shape the realm of our ideas and beliefs, our views of the past, our perception of the present and our knowledge of what’s invisible to the naked eye’.2

The chapter opens with an image of an eye on a wall of a prison cell in the now abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Marked by the passage of time, who does this eye belong to? God? A prison guard? The inmate and/as the artist? For the Egyptians the eye was a unique symbol: The Eye of Horus signified protection and good health. In Christianity an ‘all-seeing eye’ of God watches over all mankind. Vision therefore has a history; the mise en abyme effect appears in front of our eyes as we gaze into the past. Orson Welles’ film The Lady from Shanghai (1947) comes to mind here, with its final scene set in the Crazy House filled with the mysteriously multiplying mirrors.

Every image, like a moment of time, inevitably belongs to the past. Memory is visual. At first photographs surprised and frightened the crowds with their fidelity. They were often described as ‘the mirror with a memory’. People have always photographed themselves and have been photographed: in Robert Siodmak’s People on Sunday (1929) crowds are depicted having their photographs taken as part of their leisurely Sunday activities. But at the time of its emergence, numerous intellectuals were skeptical about the new medium. Although repeatedly photographed by Nadar in the late 1850s, the French Symbolist poet Charles Baudelaire considered photography a ‘sinister instrument’ that signified the triumph of technological reproduction over creative, artistic imagination.

One of the earliest photographs that depicted a living person was Louis Daguerre’s iconic Boulevard du temple (1838). The two men in the left corner of the photograph were motionless enough to be sharply captured during the 10-minutes plus exposure, although the man having his shoes polished, and thus no doubt standing still, is represented more accurately than the bootblack at work. This moment in time was saved for posterity. In a later daguerreotype, Portrait of U.S. Congressman Joshua R. Giddings (1844-1860), the passage of time is already visibly corrupting the surface of the print.

According to theorists such as André Bazin, photography was invented to embalm time, thus saving the subject from death – understood as a victory of time. For Bazin the photographic image was an object in itself, ‘freed from the conditions of time and space that govern it’.3 For this reason family photographs, such as Antoine Claudet’s Sir Charles Wheatstone and his Family (undated), functioned as spaces of remembrance. They were historical and emotional archives. Curiously, Franz Kafka believed that ‘we photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds’. Contrary to this view, 19th century English poet Elizabeth Barrett perceived the photograph as a memorial: ‘It is not merely the likeness which is precious in such cases – but the association and the sense of nearness involved in the thing… the fact of the very shadow of the person lying there fixed forever!’4

Aside from recording life, the camera established itself as a reliable scientific tool. It was believed that through the camera one could gain an additional insight into the wonders of the world. The apparatus possessed specific features that were independent of, and superior, to human vision. This belief concerning the superiority of the mechanical over the human eye would later become central to the work of key figures of the avant-garde such as Dziga Vertov, who famously declared: ‘I am kino-eye, I am mechanical eye. I, a machine, show you the world as only I can see it. Now and forever, I free myself from human immobility, I am in constant motion, I draw near, then away from objects, I crawl under, I climb onto them’.5

From the 1850s onwards professional medical journals recognised the use of photography in anatomy, anthropology, physiology, as well as military life. In addition, experiments such as Dr Julius Neubronner’s miniature pigeon camera (1908) demonstrated that images could be produced even if the human was not pushing the shutter button. Attached to the body of a pigeon, Neubronner’s camera was activated by a timing mechanism. Nowadays the Autographer Intelligent Wearable Automatic Camera is a modern equivalent of a nonhuman camera, which takes images automatically at regular intervals.

The 19th century science was particularly fascinated with the question of movement, as reflected in the philosophical writings of Henri Bergson. Prompted by Eadweard Muybridge’s 1890s motion photographs, in the early 1910s many artists experimented with ways of depicting movement in painting – the most famous example being Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, no.2 (1912). Featured in this chapter, Crossroads by Manolis Skantzakis (2009) is an homage to the Italian Futurist Anton Giulio Bragaglia’s exercises in photodynamism. Like Muybridge, Bragaglia explored the various stages between stillness and movement through the use of photography. For many artists, being able to capture movement on a two-dimensional surface meant achieving a greater approximation of reality.

Artists’ struggle to attain verisimilitude does of course have a long history. The Renaissance artist Leon Battista Alberti designed the aperta finestra (open window) to determine the frame of the painting in order to achieve a more authentic perspective. (After Cubism, we can talk about ‘defenestration’ as a destruction of perspective.) Athanasius Kircher’s 17th century analysis of light led to developments such as the camera obscura and the camera lucida. As well as offering guidance with regard to depicting perspective, these tools also provided artists with an opportunity to create a perfect illusion of reality, thus appealing to the human’s obsession with likeness. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels went so far as to claim the camera obscura as an optical metaphor for society in The German Ideology (1845-1846). They wrote: ‘If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside-down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process’.6

In contrast to the fascination with the representational ambitions of the photographic medium, the Surrealists, working in the 1920s, praised the power of the impersonal seeing it facilitated. Photography was liberating for them because it transcended mere personal expression and likeness, as seen in the example of the surrealist piece Disembodied Hand? Ain't Nobody Got Time for That (Krocky Meshkin, 2014). André Breton, the leader of French Surrealism, described the camera as a ‘blind instrument’, underlining the automatic and accidental nature of image capture. The Surrealists were more interested in metaphysical speculation than in verisimilitude. This explains their interest in photograms – camera-less photographs made by placing objects on a photo-sensitive surface exposed to light, as shown here in the more contemporary examples by Paula Bailey (2004) and George Smyth (2009). Similarly, the Bauhaus artists such as László Moholy-Nagy praised the camera for imposing ‘the hygiene of the optical’, which moved away from the vanities of the painterly surface. His kinetic sculpture, Light-Space Modulator (1930), consists of metal and glass geometrical shapes on a rotating disc. Placed in a darkened space, the modulator creates impressive shadow formations in a play with white and coloured light.

As well as being interested in abstract design, Moholy-Nagy was a keen street photographer. The city became an important subject of examination for the modernist photographers. Alexander Rodchenko in the Soviet Union and Paul Strand in America, to name but a few, photographed the city’s architecture and the people within it with the use of innovative camera angles and multiple exposures. Vivian Maier, the recently discovered street photographer and perhaps a predecessor of Diane Arbus, prolifically captured the life of New York and Chicago throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Significantly, Maier’s photographs remained undiscovered until her death in 2009. Daniel Teoli Jr’.s image of a little girl gazing from behind a window of a car used in this chapter is a nod towards such a patient observatory approach.

Snapshots of life became ever more persistent with the launch of the Polaroid camera in the late 1940s. Unlike a traditional photograph, which is developed from a negative, the Polaroid image is formed right in front of our eyes. We can say that this ‘fugitive image’ is momentarily imprisoned in the process of becoming. Nowadays the Polaroid Socialmatic camera marries the nostalgic appeal of vintage Polaroid instant print cameras with the ability to share images using the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi and Android™ interface. Many digital applications also recreate old photographic formats with ease. For example, an iPhone photograph, Channeling Atget via Melbourne 35/36 (2013), approximates the grainy look of Eugene Atget’s documentary photographs. However, numerous contemporary artists, notably the British artist Tacita Dean, continue to work with analogue formats. Dean’s artist book, Floh (2001), is composed of photographs found by the artist in flea markets of Europe and America. Dean also continues to work with old film formats, as seen in the Tate Modern installation, FILM (2012), in which an 11-minute silent 35 mm film was projected onto a large white monolith at the end of the darkened Turbine Hall. The installation was designed to celebrate the masterful techniques of analogue filmmaking in the era of encroaching digital technology.

In contrast, Joanna Zylinska’s We Have Always Been Digital (2009) investigates digitality as the intrinsic condition of photography, both in its past and present forms. Similarly, this ‘digital condition’ is explored in Walter Van Der Mäntzche’s Disturbances are expected (2013). In Der Mäntzche’s image a captivating contrast emerges: a figure of the Holy Virgin, which traditionally belongs to the realm of classical painting, is represented in a digitized, pixelated form. GIFs constitute another common example of the merging of contemporary digital graphic design and art. The Graphics Interchange Format, a still image that contains animated, moving elements, has been around since the late 1980s and is here exemplified by Bill Domonkos’s George (2014).

The two-dimensional image remained essentially still until 1892, when the first moving image device was built. Léon Bouly’s cinematograph was an instrument that could ‘write in movement’. The machine was eventually appropriated, patented and popularised by many scientists/inventors-turned-artists, namely Auguste and Louis Lumière in France, and Max and Emil Skladanowsky in Germany. Like the camera obscura, the cinematograph was also a box with a viewfinder, operated by a hand crank. Nowadays similar ‘boxes’ – high-speed phantom cameras – are operated by a nearby computer. They are able to capture high-resolution images at ultra-high speeds, thus serving as an excellent tool not only for filmmakers, but also for scientists, researchers, engineers and the military, just like the first cameras did. A history of ‘mechanical’ vision has come full circle.

Text and image curation for Chapter 2: Kamila Kuc



Notes

[1] All Our Yesterdays. Life through the Lens of Europe’s First Photographers (1839 – 1939), EuropeanaPhotography exhibition catalogue (Rome: ICCU, 2014), 21.

[2] Ibid.

[3] André Bazin, ‘The Ontology of the Photographic Image’, What is Cinema? (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004) [1945], 14.

[4] Cited in Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Picador, 1977), 183.

[5] Dziga Vertov, ‘Kinoks: A Revolution’, Annette Michelson, ed., Kino-Eye. The Writings of Dziga Vertov (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1984) [1924], 17-18.

[4] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology (1845-1846) available on Marxists at www.marxists.org. Accessed on 14 November 2014.


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Kamila Kuc, Untitled, 2011. A digital photograph of an inmate’s artwork in the Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia. The layers of history, of seeing and being seen (as basic human instincts), are peeling off the decaying wall.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Kamila Kuc, Untitled, 2011. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia. Gazing into the decayed mirrors equals looking back to the infinite past. Vision has a history.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Bob Bekian, Phantom HD Camera, 2012. A ‘sinister instrument’, an empty box operated remotely by a computer. Filming a thousand frames per second, phantom camera records continuously until told otherwise.

Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

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Cypherone, Pinhole Camera, 2006. Dark chamber: a lens-less camera.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Nancy L. Stockdale, World Pinhole Camera Day no.3 2007. The image shows a mysterious ‘aura’ of a pinhole camera image.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Replica of László Moholy-Nagy, Light-Space Modulator, 1930, 2006. Writing with light. A kinetic sculpture made at the Bauhaus. A rotating glass spiral with a sliding ball: Light-Space Modulator created the effect of photograms in motion.

Source: Flickr Commons / The Van Abbe Museum. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Athanasius Kircher, Ars magna lucis et umbrae, 1646. An illustration from the magisterial work by the Jesuit polymath scholar Kircher on the nature of light. The treatise contributed to the demystification of the working of projected images.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Trust. Licence: CC BY 4.0.

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Camera obscura, 1890-1900. Marx’s and Engels’s optical metaphor for society.

Source: Europeana / Museum Rotterdam. Licence: CC BY.

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Anonymous, A seated man looking through a camera obscura at half a skeleton suspended upside down from a tripod as two men look on, undated. A perfect illusion of reality, feeding human obsession with likeness.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Trust. Licence: CC BY 4.0.

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The Camera Lucida in use for microscopical drawings, 1855. From John Thomas Quekett’s A practical treatise on the use of the microscope. Camera as a tool of cognition: ‘gazing into the structure of matter’.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Trust. Licence: CC BY 4.0.

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Anonymous, Chemin de campagne au crepuscule, 1910-1920. The camera was traditionally seen as a window onto the world, offering supposedly unmediated vision. Yet the Pictorialists used the camera to present a more subjective vision of the subject rather than a faithful representation of reality, with images being seen as ‘made’ rather than just ‘taken’.

Source: Europeana / Bibliothèque nationale de France. Licence: Public Domain.

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Daguerrotype, 1895. This early device produced daguerreotypes: early positive or negative images on a mirror-like surface of metallic silver.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Louis Daguerre, Boulevard du Temple, Paris, 1838. A daguerreotype. Rich in detail, the photograph features the first automatically recorded image of the human: a man having his shoes cleaned in what was no doubt a busy street at the time. The situation required that he should stay relatively motionless for a period of time, which allowed the camera’s long exposure time to capture his silhouette.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Dr Julius Neubronner’s Miniature Pigeon Camera, 1908. The camera was activated by a timing mechanism.

Source: Public Domain Review. Licence: Public Domain.

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Dr Julius Neubronner’s ‘Camera Pigeon’, 1908. Upon the arrival of courier pigeons, all images taken by the camera were turned into postcards.

Source: Public Domain Review. Licence: Public Domain.

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Bird’s Eye View from Dr Julius Neubronner’s Pigeon Camera. One of the first examples of nonhuman photography.

Source: Public Domain Review. Licence: Public Domain.

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Autographer Intelligent Wearable Automatic Camera, 2014. A modern day nonhuman camera, with images taken automatically at regular intervals. Originally developed for Alzheimer’s sufferers to help them remember daily occurrences, the device was subsequently rebranded as a gadget for photography enthusiasts.

Source: Wikipedia Commons. Licence: CC BY 2.5.

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Mathew Brady’s studio, Portrait of U.S. Congressman Joshua R. Giddings, 1844-1860. ‘Photography embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption’ (André Bazin).

Source: Library of Congress. Licence: No known rights restrictions.

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Michelle Robinson, Channeling Atget via Melbourne 35/36, 2013. The return of the dead: old analogue formats remediated by digital technologies (iPhone photograph).

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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James Revgot, Meiga Garden, 2012. Joel-Peter Witkin meets Louis Daguerre in this outlandish stylisation.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA.

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Richard Kerr, Mideopsis orbicularis, 1909. A selection of photo-micrographs created by Arthur E Smith and featured in the book Nature through Microscope and Camera.

Source: Public Domain Review. Licence: Public Domain.

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Arthur E Smith, Photo-micrographs, 1909. ‘One enthusiast is a centre of usefulness to others, for he cannot keep to himself the enjoyment he receives from the study of Nature’s beauties and wonders’ (Richard Kerr, Introduction to Nature through Microscope and Camera).

California Digital Library. Licence: CC-BY.

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Anna Atkins, Asplenium Marinum, 1854. ‘Blue is the warmest colour’. Cyanotype of Asplenium marinum (or Sea Spleenwort) from the album Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns.

Source: Europeana / Rijksmuseum. Licence: Public Domain.

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William Henry Fox Talbot, Pencil of Nature, undated. Talbot was the inventor of the calotype process (not that dissimilar from the modern ‘wet’ photographic process), which allowed for images to be fixed on chemicals-covered writing paper loaded into a camera. When investigating the three primary elements of photography – developing, fixing and printing – he discovered that a short exposure time was needed to produce a latent image on the sheet, which could then be developed.

Source: Europeana / University of Edinburgh. Licence: CC-BY.

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Antoine Claudet, Sir Charles Wheatstone and his family, undated. The charm of family albums. A photograph can rescue the subject from the second, spiritual death.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Henry Peach Robinson, Fading Away, 1858. ‘The Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially’ (Roland Barthes). This morbid yet popular picture by this early-day experimental photographer who was inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites and the Romantics is a combination print. An early form of a photomontage, it joins several negatives to form a single image.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Rose Clark and Elizabeth Flint Wade, aka Misses Clark and Wade, Portrait of Miss M., of Washington, 1900. Photogravure published in Camera Notes (1901). Miss M. of Washington seems caught in a state between stillness and movement.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Alexander Rodchenko, Painter Alexander Shevchenko, 1924. The uncanny doppelgänger. In his continuous search for new camera angles and exposures, Rodchenko revolutionised the art of photography. He embraced the new medium as he believed it freed artists from the need to reproduce the existing artistic conventions such as perspective.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Unknown photographer (possibly a self-portrait), Frederikke Federspiel in Her Photographic Reform Studio in Aalborg, Denmark, 1910. Carte-de-visite photograph. Federspiel (1839-1914) was a progressive mind and the first Danish female photographer. Portraiture was among the most popular photographic genres. Far less costly and time consuming, photographs eventually gained greater popularity over painted portraits.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Gertrude Käsebier, Mrs. American Horse, 1900. Many Native American chiefs, including Crazy Horse, believed that a photograph stole or unnaturally held the soul of the person pictured. Mrs. American Horse was most likely a member of Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, depicted humorously in Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976).

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Gertrude Käsebier, Alfred Stieglitz, 1902. Stieglitz was responsible for introducing many European avant-garde trends to the US. He was the editor of the influential journal Camera Notes. The painterly nature of Käsebier’s image invites a comparison between photography and painting.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Daniel Teoli Jr., Girl Peeping Out of Car, 1971. The little girl’s curious gaze into the eyes of the photographer is particularly striking.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Kamila Kuc, El Paso, 2009. 35mm Pentax photograph. Capturing life unawares.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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A Polaroid Cartridge. Polaroid Filmpack 667, 2007. ‘Polaroids develop illegitimately before our eyes in broad daylight’ (Carol Mavor).

Source: Wikipedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Polaroid camera, 1985-1990. A type of instant camera that first appeared on the market in 1948. Polaroid analogue instant film remained in production until 2008 and was subsequently resurrected by The Impossible Project.

Source: Europeana / Museum Rotterdam. Licence: Public Domain.

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François Chaignaud, Sasha Kargaltsev, 2011. A Polaroid. The image shows the performative nature of photography.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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poppet with a camera, Tacita Dean, Film, 2011. Capture of a Tate Modern installation, developed in praise of the analogue.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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Joanna Zylinska, We Have Always Been Digital, 2009. The project considers the formal role of light in the constitution of a pattern, the ‘ON/OFF’ of the information culture. Digitality is seen here as the intrinsic condition of photography, both in its past and present forms.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Joanna Zylinska, We Have Always Been Digital, 2009. The project considers the formal role of light in the constitution of a pattern, the ‘ON/OFF’ of the information culture. Digitality is seen here as the intrinsic condition of photography, both in its past and present forms.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Joanna Zylinska, We Have Always Been Digital, 2009. The project considers the formal role of light in the constitution of a pattern, the ‘ON/OFF’ of the information culture. Digitality is seen here as the intrinsic condition of photography, both in its past and present forms.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Joanna Zylinska, We Have Always Been Digital, 2009. The project considers the formal role of light in the constitution of a pattern, the ‘ON/OFF’ of the information culture. Digitality is seen here as the intrinsic condition of photography, both in its past and present forms.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Joanna Zylinska, We Have Always Been Digital, 2009. The project considers the formal role of light in the constitution of a pattern, the ‘ON/OFF’ of the information culture. Digitality is seen here as the intrinsic condition of photography, both in its past and present forms.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Greg, Blur (When the Lute is Broken), 2007. Between abstraction and figuration: an homage to Uta Barth.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0.

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Shahrokh Dabiri, White Rose_Anaglyph 3D, 2011. Three-dimensional depth on a two-dimensional surface. Contemporary plastic surgery makes extensive use of 3D photography.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0.

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Krocky Meshkin, Disembodied Hand? Ain't Nobody Got Time for That, 2014. The Surrealists explored the artist’s inner mind in symbolic ways in order to uncover anxieties and to treat them (psycho)analytically through visual means. Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ‘decisive moment’, as seen in Behind the Gare St Lazare (1932), was influenced by the Surrealists’ emphasis on the importance of spontaneous expression.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Jaci XII, The Bird Surreal, 2013. A haptic image. For Laura Marks haptic visuality contains grainy, sensuous images that evoke memory of the senses. This can be achieved by under- and overexposure and by using decaying film and video imagery, optical printing and scratching on the emulsion. The haptic image requires the viewer to contemplate the image as a material presence.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Paula Bailey Untitled, photogram, 2004. Photograms are made by placing an object on a photo-sensitive surface in the dark and exposing both to light. The object's shadow is recorded on the paper.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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George Smyth, Photogram no.2, 2009. A France-based American Surrealist artist Man Ray invented his own version of photograms, which he called rayographs.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Beechwood Photography, Moscow’s Boot Boys, photomontage, 1983. Dada and Constructivism meet popular culture in this contemporary political photomontage.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Walter Van Der Mäntzche, Des perturbations sont à prévoir / Disturbances are expected, 2013. Glitch art: an unexpected result of malfunction as a curious example of contemporary avant-garde art.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Manolis Skantzakis, Crossroads, 2009. The image seems to inscribe itself in Futurist Photodynamism: a non-representational theory of image-making focused on the sythesisation of movement, as outlined by Anton Giulio Bragaglia in a 1913 text.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Bill Domonkos, George, 2009. 2014. GIF: an uncanny marriage of stillness and movement. Domonkos combined footage from the Prelinger Archive with a photograph from The Library of Congress.

Source: Public Domain Review / The Library of Congress. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Poyet, Cinematograph, 1897. Léon Bouly’s ‘writing in movement’. A cinematograph was a camera, projector and printer all in one. Nowadays, portable pocket-size high quality USB projectors are available at a relatively low cost.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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3. THE IMAGE IN MOTION

3. THE IMAGE IN MOTION


‘Do all four legs of the horse leave the ground when the horse moves quickly?’1 This question guided Eadweard Muybridge’s experiments with animal locomotion, experiments that influenced generations of inventors, artists and filmmakers – from his contemporary, Étienne-Jules Marey, through to Francis Bacon in the 1940s and Hollis Frampton in the 1970s. Numerous present-day photographers continue Muybridge’s legacy. Jonathan Shaw captures motion in the frozen passage of time with his photographs that aim at depicting the fluidity of movement. In his image of a flea market, every detail dances to the rhythm of Shaw’s carefully chosen exposure. It is precisely the investigation of the properties of movement that both brings together and separates the complex and interrelated histories of photography and film.

In parallel with Muybridge’s and Marey’s experiments with human and animal locomotion, early travelling shows of moving images, which are now seen as precursors to cinema, offered a new visual experience to their audiences. Through a succession of quickly changing slides, the so-called magic lanterns captivated the viewers with a ghostly phantasmagoria based on the illusion of movement. In the 1960s French artist Chris Marker would return to the idea of implying movement through still images in his seminal film La Jetée (1962). This compelling fictional post-apocalyptic narrative of loss and trauma was composed of photographs and supported by a voiceover. When first expressing a desire to make such a film as a teenager, Marker was told by a childhood friend: ‘Movies are supposed to move, stupid… Nobody can do a movie with still images’. Thirty years later Marker did exactly this.

But who invented cinema? Stefan Themerson, a Polish avant-garde filmmaker, in his artist book The Urge to Create Visions (1937) cites a Bushman tale as the origin of cinema:

You would like to know, dear Sir or Madam, who was the chap that invented the cinema? Well, my dear Sir or Madam, as a matter of fact, it wasn’t a chap. It was a girl. A girl from long ago: ‘A girl from long ago took a handful of embers and threw them up into the air; and the sparks became stars’. 2

Indeed, there is no singular figure that can be credited with the invention of cinema. Attempts at capturing movement with the cinematograph took place on different continents and in different countries simultaneously. For example, Segundo de Chomón and Georges Méliès worked on their trick films, consisting of hand-tinted slides which merged animation with live action, respectively in Spain and France at exactly the same time. De Chomón and Méliès were the precursors of special effects, nowadays exemplified by the sophisticated CGI technology. Their films belong to the tradition described by film historian Tom Gunning as the ‘cinema of attraction’. Such films aimed at seducing the viewer with their visual innovation and at ‘supplying pleasure through an exciting spectacle’,3 while the story remained of secondary importance. Gunning’s concept was developed as a challenge to the writing of history of cinema exclusively under the hegemony of narrative films. De Chomón’s and Méliès’s films can thus be seen as first avant-garde pieces.

Alongside these visually arresting experiments, cinema, like photography, was also seen as a faithful recorder of reality. Thomas Alva Edison’s Boxing Cats (1894) and Frank S. Armitage’s Skating in Central Park (1900) are both exercises in capturing life unawares. At that time cinema was not yet perceived as art. Instead, it was seen as too dependent on the conventions of literature and painting. It was not until its exciting romance with the avant-gardes developed that the cinema was granted the status of art in its own right. Because of its lack of tradition, the Italian Futurists considered film the most attractive of all the arts. Filipo Thomaso Marinetti, the leader of Italian Futurism, believed cinema to be an autonomous form of art that should never copy but rather distance itself from reality, as well as from other arts.4 The poem ‘Cinema’ (1922) by the leading figure of the Soviet avant-garde, Vladimir Mayakovsky best illustrates the avant-gardes’ fascination with the new medium:

For you cinema is a spectacle
For me almost a Weltanshauung
Cinema – purveyor of movement
Cinema – renewer of literature
Cinema – destroyer of aesthetics
Cinema – fearlessness
Cinema – a sportsman
Cinema – a sower of ideas.5

From the 1910s onwards, cinema continued to develop as both a popular industry and an alternative medium of artistic expression. Eventually, the emergence of accessible formats such as 16mm in the 1930s and Super8 in the 1960s granted artists more freedom that allowed them to challenge the boundaries of film. Michael Snow’s iconic 16mm piece, Wavelength (1967), blurs the boundaries between narrative and non-narrative film while attempting a witty dialogue with the classical Hollywood mode of filmmaking.

As cinema was developing in its more experimental forms, its impact on other arts became more visible. This continues to find its reflection in contemporary lens-based practices. For example, the narratives of Gregory Crewdson’s photographs could be mistaken for stills from David Lynch’s or Sam Mendes’ films, whereas the cinematic quality of Nan Goldin’s slide show, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1978-1986), has become this American photographer’s defining landmark. Goldin’s photographs also imply a certain narrative halt. Eschewing commonly accepted divisions that photography equals stillness while film stands for movement, Laura Mulvey has convincingly argued that new technologies have provided a visibility ‘to stillness as a property of celluloid’.6 Works such as Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho (1993) depict how the ‘presence of time itself can be discovered behind the mask of storytelling’.7 Inspired by the slow rewind button on the VCR player, Gordon’s installation alters the viewer’s experience of the image in time. A gradual visitation of the image upon our perception leaves moments from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) imprinted for ever in our memory. Indeed, we could say that cinema collects memories. Films are like labyrinths of memory, never ending corridors of moments captured in time. ‘Tu n’as rien vu à Hiroshima’ says He (Eiji Okada) to Her (Emmanuelle Riva) in Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959). Scripted by the prolific French writer Marguerite Duras, the film is a visible struggle with the past that did not happen (Her’s prosthetic memories) and the future that has not yet happened. ‘You saw nothing… in Hiroshima… nothing’.

Contrary to Roland Barthes’ intimations in Camera Lucida that photography is intrinsically connected with death, the fragile nature of human existence seems to be conveyed much stronger in film than it does in a photograph. Nowhere do we see ghosts becoming alive more powerfully than in John Huston’s Misfits (1961). Scripted by Arthur Miller, this poignant drama about the disappearance of the Old West featured Marylin Monroe’s and Clark Gable’s last screen appearance. Still images of both actors do not approximate the feeling caused by seeing them alive, moving right in front of our eyes, because on screen they are alive again. Indeed, celluloid mummifies one forever. This particular feeling of nostalgia is specific to cinema and can also relate to the actual format of the film. This is most recently exemplified in the captivating HBO drama, True Detective (Cary Fukunaga, 2014). Shooting on 35mm Kodak, the cinematographer Adam Arkapaw aimed to ‘translate the best parts of what catches an eye into a beautiful image without pushing or tweaking it too much’.8 For him the stock added to the authenticity of the story line, set in the 1990s American South. It seems that cinema is life’s doppelgänger, even in its most bizarre states. Take, for example, what one may call ‘the Lynch Moment’ – a moment of narrative and existential uncertainty. In Blue Velvet (1986) Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) finds a human ear on a meadow. He and his girlfriend Sandy (Laura Dern) are immediately pulled into a perverse mystery in which the ear stands as a quasi-Brechtian reminder that films ought to be watched and heard.

Like literature, photography and sculpture, film relies on cutting. A set of moving images put together through various editing techniques, the cut is the film’s most decisive moment. In Un Chien Andalou (Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, 1929) a man cuts through a woman’s eye as the clouds obscure the moon in the same horizontal movement. But how does one know when and where to cut? In their book Life After New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process (2012), Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska ask: if we must always cut – as writers, photographers and film-makers, then ‘what does it mean to cut well?’9 One possible answer can be found in André Bazin’s writings. For the Cahiers du Cinéma theorist the decisive cut is not just an aesthetic, but also an ethical notion. Not one in favour of the fast cutting and montage techniques of Sergei Eisenstein, Bazin preferred the deep focus of Orson Welles and the long takes of the Italian Neorealist directors instead. He believed that these latter techniques created a greater illusion of reality and thus brought cinema closer to life.10 Yet ‘reality’ remains a highly contested and subjective term. There are as many realities as there are filmmakers.

The debate concerning capturing reality on screen extends to the contemporary omnipresence of CCTV cameras, which also reflects the voyeuristic nature of our society. With the emergence of phone cameras, the image-making process has become more accessible to a wider population. Indeed, the production of media has become our everyday condition. We photograph and are being photographed without even knowing it: ‘The likelihood of being captured by the relentless mechanical eyes of the surveillance cameras, webcams and all sorts of portable camera devices has arguably turned our whole world cinematic, a condition that now exists prior to and regardless of any actual intervention of recording and display’.11

Paula Albuquerque’s Portraying A’dam (2014) shows the city of Amsterdam through passages from the publicly accessible Webcam images. The excerpt presented here uses imagery from the remotely controllable cameras, which, due to their zooming ability, can discern and highlight people’s facial features, while also covering an enormous amount of ground detail. The frequent employment of CCTV cameras and multiple screens can be seen in many contemporary feature films and TV series. Mike Figgis’s Time Code (2000) consists of four 90-minute takes that were filmed simultaneously by four separate cameras. We are presented with a story which is split into four CCTV camera-like screens. In the American series 24, in turn, we follow Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) fighting the bad guys in real time, sometimes on multiple screens. In Andrea Arnold’s Red Road (2006) the main heroine is a security officer who watches the lives of people captured on CCTV city cameras. Most recently, in Under the Skin (2013) Jonathan Glazer made use of small portable webcams as well as CCTV cameras in Glasgow to piece together a visually arresting film about an extraterrestrial female. To exist in contemporary culture is thus to produce images, as we experience the world increasingly through the eyes of the newly emerging technological devices.

Text and image curation for Chapter 3: Kamila Kuc



Notes

[1] Mary Warner Marien, Photography: A Cultural History (London: Laurence King Publishing, 2002), 212.

[2] Stefan Themerson, The Urge to Create Visions (Amsterdam: Gaberbocchus, 1937), 9.

[3] Tom Gunning, ‘The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde’, Thomas Elsaesser, ed., Early Cinema: Space, Frame, Narrative (London: BFI, 1990), 58.

[4] Filipo Thomaso Marinetti et al., ‘The Futurist Cinema’, Umbro Apollonio, ed., Futurist Manifestos (London: Thames and Hudson, 1973) [1916], 207, 208.

[5] Vladimir Mayakovsky, ‘Cinema and Cinema’, Ian Christie and Richard Taylor, eds., The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents 1896-1939 (New York: Routledge, 1994) [1922], 75.

[6] Laura Mulvey, ‘Stillness in the Moving Image: Ways of Visualising Time and Its Passing’, Tanya Leighton and Pavel Büchler, eds., Saving the Image: Art After Film (Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University, 2003), 79.

[7] Ibid., 81.

[8] ‘HBO’s True Detective Elevates the Television Drama. An interview with Adam Arkapaw, Kodak. Cinema and Television. Accessed on 16 December 2014.

[9] Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska, ‘Cut! The Imperative of Photographic Mediation’, Life After New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012), 71.

[10] André Bazin, ‘The Evolution of the Language of Cinema’, Hugh Gray, ed., André Bazin. What is Cinema? Vol. 1 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004) [1945], 25, 33, 35.

[11] Pepita Hesselberth, 'Cinematic Chronotopes: Affective Encounters in Space-Time’, PhD dissertation. University of Amsterdam, 2012, 15, quoted in Paula Albuquerque, ‘Webcams as cinematic medium: Creating chronotopes of the real’, NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies. Accessed on 16 December 2014.


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Eadweard Muybridge, A Man Walking, 1887. Muybridge was the pioneer of the photographic studies of motion. He is known as ‘the man who famously proved a horse can fly’.

Europeana / The Wellcome Trust. Licence: CC BY 4.0.

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U.S. Navy, Tropical Storm 02-S on 6 November 2005. Satellite image conveying both stillness and motion. The first pixel-based image was taken on 14 August 1959 and depicted a sunlit area of the Central Pacific Ocean.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Jonathan Shaw, Triple Jump. Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, June 1996. An original exploration of movement captured in the passage of time. Time and movement appear as liquid entities.

Source: Artist’s Own Archive. Licence: CC BY-NC.

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Jonathan Shaw, Father Christmas. Bull Ring, Birmingham, 1999. Shaw’s work is situated within a long photographic tradition of experimentation that has deployed the camera as an instrument of both scientific record and aesthetic exploration. This tradition can be traced back to pioneering photographers such as Muybridge and Edgerton.

Source: Artist’s Own Archive. Licence: CC BY-NC.

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Jonathan Shaw, Customised camera. ‘From his earliest work Shaw has been designing, cannibalizing and building his own customized camera equipment to produce his strange yet somehow accurate images’ (Time/Motion, 2003).

Source: Artist’s Own Archive. Licence: CC BY-NC.

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Andrei Niemimäki, Magic Lantern, 2006. A photograph of an early projector, conveying the appeal of phantasmagoria. Phantasmagoria was a 19th show that involved the sequential projection of images onto a wall by means of the slide machine, aka ‘the magic lantern’.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Joseph Boggs Beale, A Magic Lantern Slide, 1865. The ghostly effect of the magic lantern, seen as a predecessor of cinema, was based on the principle that while the image was moving, the viewers remained still.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Georges Méliès, Le Voyage dans la Lune, 1902. An iconic example of the ‘cinema of attraction’, i.e. a kind of cinema that purposefully draws the viewers’ attention to its form and medium, rather than narrative, through multiple visual effects.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Segundo de Chomón, Dances Cosmpolites, 1902. De Chomón’s intelligent and witty camera tricks earned him the nickname of a ‘Spanish Méliès’

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Mollie Fly An Image of the Photography Studio of C.S. and Molly Fly Burning, 1912. Movement held still.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Cristiana Gasparotto, An homage to La Jetée, 2013. The flavour of frozen time at Orly airport, challenging the momentous words of Chris Marker’s childhood friend: ‘Nobody can do a movie with still images’.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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do u remember, Chris Marker, La Jetée poster, 1962. ‘This time he is close to her, he speaks to her. She welcomes him without surprise. They are without memories, without plans. Time builds itself painlessly around them. Their only landmarks are the flavour of the moment they are living and the markings on the walls’.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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i_strad, Grief, 2009. ‘Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic...’ (Stan Brakhage).

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Aitor Aranda, An homage to Gregory Crewdson, 2012. Photography and the cinematic. Crewdson has always been fascinated ‘by the poetic condition of twilight. By its transformative quality. Its power of turning the ordinary into something magical and otherworldly’. He says: ‘My wish is for the narrative in the pictures to work within that circumstance. It is that sense of in-between-ness that interests me’.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Margaret Shear, Media, 2006. A photograph of Nan Goldin’s book, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, overlaid with a DVD of the US teenage drama The OC. An intimate diary and an emotional archive.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Thomas Alva Edison, Boxing Cats, 1894. The first films were short and evolved around simple subjects, such as animals playing or women dancing. Their principal aim was to explore cinema’s ability to capture movement.

Source: Open Images. Licence: Public Domain.

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William K. L. Dickson, Anabelle Dancing, 1894. One of the first American avant-garde films. Annabelle performed several dances at the Black Maria studio and was featured in the Kinetoscope’s first London showing in October 1894.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Thomas Alva Edison, Turkish Dance, 1898. Ella Lola, ‘Turkish Anabelle’.

Source: Open Images. Licence: Public Domain.

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Frank S. Armitage, Skating in Central Park, 1900. A snapshot of everyday life, (always) in motion.

Source: Open Images. Licence: Public Domain.

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Sam Leighton, EDWARD HOPPER’S-LIGHT, 2009. A touch of melancholia, as seen in Hopper’s painting Nighthawks (1942), which brings to mind film noir.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0.

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Pat Sullivan, Charlie in Turkey, 1919. Animation as one of the earliest examples of experimental film.

Source: Open Images. Licence: Public Domain.

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James Williamson, The Big Swallow, 1901. A Warholian close-up. The Big Swallow is also one of the most important early examples of a film that exploits the eye of the camera and the gaze of the audience.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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David Lynch, Inland Empire, 2006, screenshot by Martin Pulasky. Uncomfortable, uncanny digital close-ups in this modern Alice in Wonderland-like thriller.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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Alain Resnais, Last Year at Marienbad, 1961, screenshot by Julia Manzerowa. Cinema as a labyrinth of memory. Have they really met?

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Michelangelo Antonioni, L’avventura, 1960, screenshot by looking4poetry. Impressively photographed, this mysterious adventure into the realms of non-conventional filmmaking was initially booed at Cannes yet it is now one of the most iconic examples of art cinema.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Alain Resnais, Hiroshima Mon Amour, 1959, screenshot by poppet with a camera. ‘Tu n’as rien vu à Hiroshima.’ Spaces of immemory. Resnais’ first feature centres on a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) having an affair in post-war Hiroshima. The characters share their memories of love and suffering. With the use of a highly innovative narrative structure based on flashbacks, Duras and Resnais blur the boundaries between personal and collective memory and between past and present.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0.

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John Huston, The Misfits, 1961, screenshot by retrogasm. The last film of Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. ‘Ghosts. Cine recordings of the vivacious doings of persons long dead’ (Ken Jacobs). Stars come back to life on screen.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Dave Pattern, Psycho, 2010. Composed from the Wikipedia entry on Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). ‘I fell in a very uncomfortable position.... My head was crinkled against the tub and water was running down my hair onto my face which tickled and I couldn’t obviously react to it. I had to have that look – and not blink or swallow. I couldn’t do anything until Hitch snapped his fingers after the camera panned far enough away’.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Cinzia Bonzanella, Douglas Gordon, 24 Hours Psycho, 1993. Stillness and death.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Martin Keamy Fanbase, Un Keamy Andalou, 2008. Where to cut?

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Kamila Kuc, Untitled (Hitchcock series), 2005. ‘I stopped taking showers and I take baths, only baths’, the Psycho actress Janet Leigh confessed to the New York Times in 1995.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Janet Ramsden, Dreams 10/52, 2011. Cinema and the uncanny nature of dreams.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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David Lynch, Blue Velvet, 1986, screenshot by MattM. The ‘eariness’ and eeriness of the ‘Lynch Moment’: narrative and existential uncertainty.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Bradley Stephen Wise, 8mm film camera, 2010. When Super8 film was released by Eastman Kodak in 1965, it was primarily considered appropriate for home movies. However, it soon became one of the favourite formats of experimental filmmakers.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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Derek Jarman, Fire Island, 1974, screenshot by Max Nathan. A demonstration of Super8’s grainy, dreamy quality.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Kamila Kuc, In the Same Room, 2014. ‘Gothic and decadent’. Super8 film’s quality reproduced by the iPhone’s Super8 application.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Michael Snow, Wavelength, 1967, screenshot by Ian W. Hill. How long is the wave? Snow’s film blurs boundaries between narrative and non-narrative.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0.

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Chris Carter, 16mm Bolex H16 camera, 2008. ‘Found this little beauty at the back of one of our cupboards’, writes Flickr user Carter.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Cary Fukunaga, True Detective, 2014, screenshot by SachS. Set in Louisiana and based on Nic Pizzolato's short stories, this gripping TV series was shot on 35mm.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Liubomir Ikonomov, 21 screenshots from damaged .avi file. Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Eclisse, 2010. Glitch art: exploring the potential of an error.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Kamila Kuc, Beograd 13 XII 13: So Who Should the Bear Love After All?, 2014. Transmission errors in this hockey sequence produce surprising aesthetic effects.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Andreas Levers, An image from a CCTV camera, 2009. A visible marker of our contemporary culture of voyeurism.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0.

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Paula Albuquerque, Portraying A’dam, 2014. A documental approach to the city of Amsterdam, exclusively making use of the publicly accessible webcams that were available on the 4th of October 2013. The excerpt focuses on the remotely controllable zooming cameras’ ability to discern and highlight peoples’ identifiable facial features, while also covering an enormous amount of ground detail.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-NC.

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@LIQUIDBONEZ, Jean Luc-Godard, Histoire(s) du cinéma, 1988. Tout est cinema. To be is to make images.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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4. HYBRID PHOTOMEDIATIONS

4. HYBRID PHOTOMEDIATIONS


Joan Fontcuberta rounds off his provocative book Pandora’s Camera: Photogr@phy after Photography – the title of which could actually double as an epigraph of this chapter on hybrid photomediations – by recounting an anecdote from one of the earlier editions of the annual photography festival in Arles, France. Rencontres d’Arles, to give it its full title, is a relatively conventional photographic institution, where ‘two and two is a four, a Leica is a Leica, and Cartier-Bresson reigns eternal in the pantheon of Daguerre’.1 When invited to the podium as an Arles speaker, French artist Christian Boltanski made the following statement to the audience gathered in front of him: ‘Photography is photojournalism; everything else is painting’.2 This provocative assertion can of course be seen as an attempt to uphold the traditional values of photography: its ability to show the world as it really is, its proximity to truth. Yet, given that Boltanski is known for all sorts of media experimentation, including manipulated photographs and film, painting and sculpture, could it also be read as an ironic commentary on the normative history of photography as espoused by institutions such as Rencontres d’Arles, and on the elision of the constructed, the non-representational and the hybrid from it?

The concept of ‘hybrid photomediations’ that provides a theme for this chapter serves as a placeholder for this ‘everything else’ hinted at by Boltanski: all the escapees from the history of photography proper. If the very notion of photomediations, as discussed in the Introduction to this book, highlights the dynamic nature of the photographic processes and proposes to see photography as always engaged with other media, ‘hybrid photomediations’ allow us to see the diversity of these dynamic media engagements, both in early photographic practice and in more recent, and more knowing, experiments with the image-making apparatus. The latter involve not just all sorts of cameras but also various ‘peripherals’ whose role has become ever more central to our connected living: computers, printers, scanners, phones.

The chapter opens with collage as the art genre that is premised on creation and experimentation, and on pushing further the photographic imperative to make cuts into the flow of time by visualising the stitching. The first collage image included here, made by Christopher Paquette from newsprint, sepia ink and an anonymous 19th century hand-coloured sepia photo of a baby with very rosy cheeks, carries a spiral-like excerpt from the article titled ‘Composition’ by Henri Cartier-Bresson: ‘If a photograph is to communicate its subject in all its intensity, the relationship of forms must be rigorously established. Photography implies the recognition of a rhythm in the world of real things’. The formalism proposed by the French icon of the photojournalistic tradition Cartier-Bresson is literally broken by Paquette into an image of itself: one that implies engagement with photography as we know it and the assimilation of its conventions, but also a playful rearrangement of its component parts in order to find a new rhythm. Hybrid photomediations can therefore be described as attempts to engage with the photographic medium both respectfully and playfully, or to cut into it with a double sword of creativity and critique.

Incorporating a number of other collages, the chapter also showcases various attempts to mobilise photography as a process and to show its relation with other media: montage, image as a mock film-still, performance. The idea of the photographic object is expanded in the chapter through the inclusion of items such as postcards, political cartoons and posters as well as medallions and commemoration boxes. Just as with the Cartier-Bresson collage, in several other photographs the relationship between text and image is mutually constitutive, with words becoming an integral visual element of the picture rather than just a mere commentary on it.

In The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography, writer and curator Lyle Rexel claims that all contemporary photographers are inheritors of postmythological consciousness, which manifests itself in a certain knowingness about the photographic medium. ‘It means that every photographic image arrives now within a set of quotation marks’.3 Rexel is no doubt correct in his diagnosis about the increased awareness of the conventions of photography: something this chapter illustrates by incorporating remediated images of Leonardo’s classics such as Mona Lisa or Lady with an Ermine, or a self-portrait of a photographer mediated through surveillance screens with face recognition detection. We could perhaps go so far as to say that, in the age of the camera phone and Photoshop, ‘we are all hybrid photomediators now’. Yet, even though digital technology and the widely available image manipulation software have made photographic experimentation both more ubiquitous and more acceptable, this knowingness was arguably already present in the early days of the medium. Hippolyte Bayard’s sinister yet playful Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man from 1840 (also included in this chapter) was supposedly made to highlight Bayard’s disappointment with his lack of recognition for the role he had played in the invention of the photographic process, with all the glory going to his government-backed rival Daguerre.

While knowingness about the medium is an important aspect of many projects gathered under the rubric of ‘hybrid photomediations’, the suspension of both human knowledge and human vision is equally significant. Indeed, many images gathered in this chapter adopt a uniquely nonhuman view, with the camera zooming out into the universe to look at stars, planets and rocks, and to capture them in a way we ourselves can’t – and then zooming back on to the minuscule: liquid crystal, tissue, DNA. Interestingly, it is both in aerial and medical photography that the ironic juxtaposition between photojournalism as faithful representation and painting as visual invention, provocatively introduced by Boltanski, collapses: several of the supposed documentary renderings of the planetary or microbial surfaces, which themselves rely on the frequently arbitrary ascription of colour to digital data which encodes the image, look as if they had been created by impressionist or abstract painters. Last but not least, hybrid photomediations challenge the humanist narrative about photography by intimating that intentionality is not the only criterion that determines the photographic outcome, with human error and machinic glitch constituting part and parcel of what are seen as credible or even valuable photographic outcomes.

The chapter ends with a celebratory self-referential image that encapsulates this very idea of hybrid photomediations: a GIF animation showing a Wikimedia Commons logo. The image was made from photos uploaded by Internet users over a period of time, to celebrate the one millionth uploaded file at this free online media repository. Wikimedia Commons and other major repositories – such as Flickr, The Public Domain Review and, last not least, Europeana – from which content for this chapter has been sourced, constitute a new flea market for images. Opening new avenues for the idea of found photography, they also contribute significantly to the radical rethinking of the closed knowledge culture.

Image curation for Chapter 4: Ross Varney and Joanna Zylinska
Text by Joanna Zylinska



Notes

[1] Joan Fontcuberta, Pandora’s Camera: Photogr@phy After Photography (London: Mack, 2014), 183.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Lyle Rexer, The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography (New York: Aperture, 2013), 181.


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Christopher Paquette, Collage_01_2012, 2012. Collage: newsprint, sepia ink, photograph. Image: anonymous 19th century photograph; text: ‘Composition’ by Henri Cartier-Bresson. ‘If a photograph is to communicate its subject in all its intensity, the relationship of forms must be rigorously established. Photography implies the recognition of a rhythm in the world of real things. What the eye does is to find and focus on the particular subject within the mass of reality; what the camera does is simply to register upon film the decision made by the eye’.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0.

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Unidentified photographer, Wagner, ca. 1840. One of four existing images showing the restoration of a badly damaged daguerreotype, depicting Richard Wagner from his time as the Royal Saxon Court Conductor in Dresden.

Source: Europeana / Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA.

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Hippolyte Bayard, Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man, 1840. Early direct positive on paper. Seemingly disappointed about the lack of recognition for his role in the invention of the photographic process, with all the glory going to his government-backed rival Daguerre, Bayard staged this somewhat sinister yet ultimately playful scene – after which he went on to live for nearly fifty years.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Unknown photographer, Our Hero, ca. 1914-1915. This photographic portrait shows Roy Henderson Robertson, who was born in Scarborough New South Wales, Australia, in 1899, and killed in action on 7.11.1915 at Walker’s Ridge Gallipoli, aged 16. The photograph was probably annotated by Robertson’s family after his death.

Source: Flickr Commons / State Library of New South Wales. Licence: No known copyright restrictions.

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Alphonse Robine, Place of Memory (Lieu de mémoire), 1917. From Alphonse Robine’s album of photographs and watercolours created during the First World War whilst on the front-lines in the Tahure trench.

Source: Europeana / Bibliothèque de Bordeaux. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, Mosaic: Imperial Family, 19th c. This undated image is representative of the cartes de visite produced by the French photographer Disdéri (1819-1889). Disdéri made a name for himself for patenting the idea of a small photographic image mounted on a card and for bringing this form of portraiture to the masses. The composite image presented here is headed by Napoleon III, Emperor of the French and his wife Empress Eugenie.

Source: Europeana / National Library of France. Licence: Public Domain.

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Unidentified photographers, Postcard, 1910. A collage of 29 individual portraits of men in civilian clothes, probably gymnasts from Leipzig, taken between ca. 1880-1910 and mounted on card.

Source: Europeana / Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA.

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Eric Mesa, Fibonacci Collage, 2008.
 Image collage evoking a filmstrip sequence. The collage was created by following the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 55, 89…), with each picture displayed as many times as the Fibonacci number, where each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two, at that point.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC SA 2.0

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Unidentified photographer, Woman of Asian Descent, ca. 1920; Order of Odd Fellows Emblem with Man, ca. 1915. Gelatin silver print (toned) and chromolithograph, mounted on celluloid medallion. These photo medallions, aka ‘large buttons’, were popular in the US from 1900 to 1930. The borders were mass-produced and handpicked by the customer from samples and sample sheets. Buttons of all kinds were purchased from door-to-door salesmen, photography studios and through catalogues.

Source: Flickr Commons / George Eastman House. Licence: No known copyright restrictions.

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Mark Lythgoe and Chloe Hutton, MRI Movie of the Head, 2004.
 Still image from an MRI movie of the human head showing sequential frontal (coronal) sections of the brain and other internal structures.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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Bill McConkey, Mechanical Man, undated.
 This image shows a man made out of bits of metal. Central to the image is a gold mechanical heart connected to various parts of musical instruments. It shows the workings of the heart and the body as pre-electrical machines. This image was created from photographs of brass instruments such as trumpets and collaged together digitally. The heart and face were originally a pencil drawing that was textured up and painted via computer.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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Peter Merholz, Self-portrait through Surveillance Technology, 2004.
 A self-portrait of the photographer mediated through surveillance screens with face recognition detection.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

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G. Piprot, Our Dear Father, and Greetings from France, ca. 1915. World War I postcards. Gelatin silver print, hand applied colour.

Source: Flickr Commons / George Eastman House. Licence: No known copyright restrictions.

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Astrid Westvang, Art Museum, 2014. A spontaneous capture by this prolific amateur photographer from Norway of a scene observed in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Belgium.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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William Hope, Elderly Couple with a Young Female Spirit, ca. 1920. Hope was a member of the well-known spiritualists group, the Crewe Circle, in England. Dating back to the 19th century, spirit photography attempted to capture images of ghosts and other spiritual entities. The first ‘ghost’ photographs were likely to have been produced by accident, as a result of the long exposure required and the subsequent movement of the subject. The technique was widely abused by charlatans.

Source: Flickr Commons / National Media Museum Collection. Licence: No known copyright restrictions.

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Julia Margaret Cameron, Angel of the Nativity, 1872. Model is Laura Gurney. Albumen print. An early pioneer of photography, British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron was a daring experimenter who became particularly known for her portraits and Arthurian-themed images. She was visionary in her belief in the 'divine' power of the medium, beyond mere representation, which was reflected in her use of soft focus and other pictorial effects.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Oscar Rejlander, Head of St. John the Baptist in a Charger, ca. 1858. Albumen print. Rejlander was a pioneering Victorian art photographer, best known for his combination print The Two Ways of Life, and an expert in photomontage. This image was meant to be part of a composition, but the artist never completed it.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / George Eastman House. Licence: Public Domain.

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Nuada Medical, Brain Tractography: Visualising Neuronal Tracts, undated. A neuronal tractography image showing the brain of a 45-year-old male viewed from the front. Tractography is an imaging technique that highlights the distribution and direction of neurons within the brain. The colour is assigned to make the image more accessible and is based on the direction of the fibres.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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Nickolas Muray, Woman Wearing Scarf, 1938. Colour print, assembly (carbro) process. This is a cover of McCall’s, a monthly US-based women's magazine that was popular through much of the 20th century.

Source: Flickr Commons / George Eastman House. Licence: No known copyright restrictions.

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Victor Keppler, No Swimming Allowed, 1946. Colour print, assembly (carbro) process. This is a cover of American Magazine: a periodical publication that ran between June 1906 and 1956. It focused on human interest stories, social issues and fiction and was predominantly aimed at female readership.

Source: Flickr Commons / George Eastman House. Licence: No known copyright restrictions.

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Kerstin Bernhard, Collage with Handbag, Shoes from Löfsko, Gloves, Belts and A Rose, In Connection with Aili Pekonen’s Fashion Design, 1957-1963. Fashion photography meets surrealism in the work of this Swedish fashion and product photographer, known for her startling images of bread from different cultures.

Source: Europeana / Nordic Museum Sweden. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND.

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Grete Stern, Electric Housewares (Artículos eléctricos para el hogar), 1950. Photomontage depicting a woman as a table lamp about to be operated by what looks to be a male hand.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Neil Krug, from Jackie Series, 2009. This image comes from LP-sized Pulp Art Book: Volume One published by Nazari Press and featuring a collaboration between photographer Neil Krug and model Joni Harbeck. The book is split into several vignettes, ranging from a spaghetti western theme through to a Bonnie and Clyde revival and the struggles of a 1950s housewife. The inspiration for the pulp theme comes from the artists’ appreciation of the social life and the artistic expressions of the 1960s and 1970s.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Daniel Cande, Dirty Laundry, 1994. Photography and performance have been intertwined for a long time. This image documents the performance of the play Linge sale (Dirty Laundry), which was staged at the Salle Benoît XII in Avignon. A seemingly straightforward record of a theatrical event, it evokes staged photography by artists such as Valie Export, Cindy Sherman and Jemima Stahli.

Source: Europeana / National Library of France. Licence: Public Domain.

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Yang Zhao, nomirror, 2005. Found image.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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anyjazz65, Double Exposure, undated. Double exposure image of a group of people in front of a building and what looks like a rural landscape. The right-hand image contrast has been increased to show the double exposure detail better.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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iko, XYV 1XX, 2014. A contemporary digital diptych of double-exposed abstract light and shadow patterns.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Sašo Hass, Green Light, Mateja Bučar (No. 3), 1990.
 Scenes from the performance Green Light, depicting the endless motion of crossing city streets during which the green and red traffic lights become semaphore and generate the performance choreography.

Source: Europeana / ECLAP. Licence: CC BY-NC ND 3.0.

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Adelmo Lolli, Memories of Adelmo Lolli, 1916-1917.
 Collage of panoramic photos of the Asiago Plateau in Umbria by Captain Lolli. Lolli, of the 11th Infantry Regiment, fought in the First World War and died soon after, from a disease contracted in the war. He was also a photo enthusiast who captured images of the Umbrian landscape during his service. The photographs were found in the attic by Lolli’s grandson Pierluigi Roesler Franz.

Source: Europeana / Europeana 1914-1918. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Groume, Collage, 2009.
 Landscape collage of 10 separate images taken with the PanoLab iPhone app to produce a strip colour effect, with some additional manipulation using CameraBag.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Unknown photographer and colourist, The Orange Knock Out, 1917. A political cartoon of John C.L. Fitzpatrick, secretary for mines and treasurer, and the coal strike. The image is a photographic montage which has been painted over. Only the heads of the two subjects have been left uncoloured. The event referred to was the transport strike of 1917: Fitzpatrick was forced to use legislation to defeat the strike, as it was wartime.

Source: Flickr Commons / State Library of New South Wales. Licence: No known copyright restrictions.

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John Heartfield, Keine neuen Zähne für diese Hyäne, 1932.
 Agitation Poster with the messages, ‘War and corpses – The last hope of the rich – No new teeth for this hyena – US missiles in Western Europe out!’.

Source: Europeana / Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

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Society for the Propaganda of Skiing, Winter in Poland, 1930-39. Hand-coloured photomontage of skiers and mountain scenes taken from the Society for the Propaganda of Skiing tourist guide.

Source: Europeana / National Library of Poland. Licence: Public Domain.

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Verkade, biscuit tin, 1989-1990. A commemoration tin by the Dutch sweets manufacturing company Verkade, celebrating 650 years of Rotterdam. The lid features a photo-collage of the iconic buildings in the city.

Source: Europeana / Museum Rotterdam. Licence: CC BY.

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Officer Valluet, Aerial Photograph of Vaudesincourt, 1917. This image of the north-eastern part of France is one of the many aerial photographs of the World War One’s Western Front, most probably taken by an officer named Valluet. The whole collection, found in the 1980s, contains aerial photographs taken at heights between 2000 and 4200 meters above sea level as well as postcards and other documents. The photographs are clearly identified and dated. One can see in them trenches, communication channels and specific areas hit by shells.

Source: Europeana / Europeana 1914-1918. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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M. J. Janssen, Photography of the Solar Disk: Spots and Faculae, ca. 1877. An early example of astrophotography, this photo was originally included in the book Le ciel on astronomy and physics, written by Amédée Guillemin and published in Paris in 1877.

Source: Europeana / Rijksmuseum. Licence: Public Domain.

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Viking 1 NASA, ‘Face on Mars’, 1976. NASA's Viking 1 Orbiter spacecraft photographed this region in the northern latitudes of Mars on July 25, 1976 while searching for a landing site for the Viking 2 Lander. The speckled appearance of the image is due to missing data, called bit errors, caused by problems in transmission of the photographic data from Mars to Earth. Bit errors comprise part of one of the 'eyes' and 'nostrils' on the eroded rock that resembles a human face near the centre of the image. Shadows in the rock formation give the illusion of a nose and mouth. Planetary geologists attribute the origin of the formation to purely natural processes. The feature is 1.5 km across, with the Sun angle at approximately 20 degrees. The picture was taken from a range of 1,873 km.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA. Licence: Public Domain.

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ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, Comet 67P NavCam Mosaic, 2014.
 Mosaic of four images taken by Rosetta‘s navigation camera (NAVCAM) on 19 September 2014 at 28.6 km from the centre of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The images used for this mosaic were taken in sequence as a 2×2 raster over an approximately 20-minute period, resulting in some motion of the spacecraft and rotation of the comet between the images.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / ESA. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

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Unknown photographer, A Handful of Australia, 1909. Postcard, photo mechanical print.

Source: Flickr Commons / Powerhouse Museum. Licence: no known copyright restrictions.

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NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (University of California), R. Bouwens (University of California and Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team, Hubble Ultra Deep Field Infrared WFC3/IR, 2011. Astronomers have pushed NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to its limits by finding what they believe is the most distant object ever seen in the universe. Its light travelled 13.2 billion years to reach Hubble, roughly 150 million years longer than the previous record holder. The age of the universe is 13.7 billion years.

Source: Hubblesite.org. Licence: Public Domain (with attribution).

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NASA, ESA, J. Hester and A. Loll (Arizona State University), Crab Nebula (NGC 1952), 2000. This is a mosaic image, one of the largest ever taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope of the Crab Nebula, a six-light-year-wide expanding remnant of a star’s supernova explosion. Japanese and Chinese astronomers recorded this violent event nearly 1,000 years ago in 1054, as did, almost certainly, Native Americans.

Source: Hubblesite.org. Licence: Public Domain (with attribution).

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NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team, Omega Centauri (NGC 5139), 2009. This image is a composite of separate exposures made by the WFC3 instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope. Three filters were used to sample broad wavelength ranges. The colour results from assigning different hues to each monochromatic image. Exposure time 2.7 hours, distance to object 16,000 light-years.

Source: Hubblesite.org. Licence: Public Domain (with attribution).

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Daniel Paris (University of Oxford), Immune Cells of the Skin Fighting a Typhus Infection, undated. Resembling an impressionist painting, this 400x magnification fluorescent micrograph shows an Orientia tsutsugamushi infection in skin. The cells have been visualised using double-immunofluorescence staining to demarcate the areas of infection.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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Roel van der Hoorn/NASA, Mars Viking 12f125 distorted colors, 2009. This is a montage created from the images taken by the Mars Viking Lander as a replacement for the image ‘Viking Lander 1 Phobos Shadow p131b.jpg’ available in Wikimedia Commons, to address low image quality issues. Original images taken in 1977.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Dirk Dallas, Light Painting with a Drone 1, 2014. Long exposure image of a flying drone with coloured LEDs attached.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0.

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Joanna Zylinska, iEarth, 2014. Manufactured from a children’s diorama kit, these ‘unnatural landscapes’, converted into a gif animation, display the kind of greenery that is more associated with media representations of nature than with nature itself. The bird’s eye view evokes the perspective of the satellite images of different locations, as seen on Google Earth or Microsoft’s Virtual Earth. This perspective both denaturalises the familiar and creates an illusion of immediacy, proximity and visual mastery.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY.

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The Ostrich, Fractal Landscape, 2002.
 A fractal landscape randomly generated with a custom programmed algorithm and rendered using Terragen.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY 3.0.

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The Wellcome Library, Erythema multiforme, 1970-1986. Photomicrograph of a skin lesion.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY-NC ND 4.0.

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Wellcome Photo Library, Normal Bone (compact transverse section femur), 1970-1986. A photomicrograph image visualised with polarised light shows the bone system of a human femur (thighbone) as alternating light and dark layers.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY-NC ND 4.0.

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Karen Neill / LCI, Liquid Crystal, undated.
 Liquid crystal as visualised under polarised light creating an abstract effect. As well as in liquid crystal displays (LCDs), liquid crystals are increasingly used in science and medicine in a range of sensors and other applications.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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Karen Neill / LCI, Liquid Crystal, 2005.
 Liquid crystal as visualised under polarised light creating an abstract effect. As well as in liquid crystal displays (LCDs), liquid crystals are increasingly used in science and medicine in a range of sensors and other applications.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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Veronique Blanc and Qin Wang, Manipulated Image of DNA Chip Analysis, 2002. DNA chip analysis comparing the gene expression patterns of normal and cancerous prostate cells.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

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Roger Pic, Purple Dust, 1966. This is an image from a set documenting the performance of the comedy play Poussière pourpre (Purple Dust) staged at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. Given the prevalence of the documentary style in theatre photography, this image is interesting in its clear departure from the traditional style of representation, being closer visually to abstract photography and painting. Equally interesting is the fact that it was deemed worth archiving by the Department of Performing Arts at the National Library of France.

Source: Europeana / National Library of France. Licence: Public Domain.

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TORLEY, Pixel People on Rainbow Mountain, 2014. Abstract experimental glitch art resembling a mountainous digital landscape.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY SA 2.0.

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Sgt. Thomas Michael Corcoran (U.S. armed forces), Kandahar, Afghanistan, Jan. 10, 2002.

SrA Jeremy Burns, A U.S. Army paratrooper with Bravo Company, 2013.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Doctor Popular, AntiTagging, 2014.
 Self-portrait taken using the Anti-Tagging iPhone app that anonymizes photos by auto-detecting faces and glitching them out, thus producing a secure selfie.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Doctor Popular, Vince, Glitch portrait, part of a series of digital iPhone experiments that have been transferred to instant film for exhibition.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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mikrosopht [deleted], Glitch 127, 2007.
 Glitch image of the body, created by utilising a temporary browser image caching error.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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mikrosopht [deleted], the problem b – mona lisa, 2009. Abstract glitch remix of the Mona Lisa created by using an operating system error that produced tracers of the image dragged across the desktop.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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Roberto Rizzato, Lady with a … Cat, 2013. A digital intervention based on Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine. Rizzato, aka PIX-JOCKEY, has won many prizes in Photoshop picture contests and has also entered Freaking News' prestigious Hall of Fame (World's Top 100).

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Michaelbetancourt, Kodak Moment, 2013.
 Glitch sample of the film Kodak Moment (2013) featuring actress Mae Murray, who appeared in the original Kodachrome source film from 1922.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA-3.0.

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Chila Kumari Burman, Asian Medicine in the West, 2004. A collage compiled of flyers, brochures, etc., advertising Asian therapeutic substances and techniques that were available in London on 31 August 2004.

Source: Europeana / The Wellcome Library. Licence: CC BY 4.0.

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Collective author, Wikimedia Logo Mosaic, 2006. Gif animation, collectively edited, with Internet users invited to collaborate on the image within a specific period. The mosaic was intended to commemorate the one millionth uploaded file at Wikimedia Commons, the free online media repository. The people behind the project chose the Wikimedia Foundation logo because it was seen as easy to render well at a fairly low resolution, because it was a relatively simple image, and because it represented the Foundation itself.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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5. THE NETWORKED IMAGE

5. THE NETWORKED IMAGE


In September 1928 the German art historian Aby Warburg wrote the following words to his assistant Fritz Saxl: 'He followed my pictures like a schoolboy at the movies … and tested the soundness of my conclusions by following up with merciless questioning. … Only on Kepler and the ellipse, I believe, I did not get a passing grade. Otherwise he was satisfied with me'.1

Though it may read like an obscure narrative at first glance, this passage is actually a description, from a historical perspective, of one of the key moments in the re-connection between two long-lost siblings: aesthetics (which is vital to art) and episteme (which is crucial to science). The story could well have been lost and forgotten altogether, and certainly not included as a reference in the context of networked images, written years later, if the ‘he’ from that passage did not refer to the already at that point acclaimed Albert Einstein, and if ‘pictures’ did not refer to one of the most influential projects within the arts and humanities of the 20th century - the Mnemosyne Atlas.

The famously ambitious 'Mnemosyne Project', which opens our collection of images in this chapter, was conceived of as a universal visual 'image atlas', combining, archiving and tracing the aesthetic and epistemic development of cultural motifs through continents and centuries. From the outset of his work, and specifically in his meeting with Einstein, Aby Warburg accentuated the mercurial characteristics of his method. The advantage and innovation of this method, he argued, results from the combination of using an iconic mode of argumentation for visually represented motifs, and their portability as photographic montages. Through this methodical connection the novelty and key epistemic advantage should be achieved through a process of reshuffling, rearranging and discovering or, as Warburg more specifically put it, ‘re-discovering’ lost connections between different branches of knowledge.

In opposition to the linear and static input/output method of collection and recall of information in an archive, Warburg argued for the operativity of images, resulting from the visually oriented epistemic practices of comparison and contextualisation. One of the key terms he developed in this context, which addresses the notion of thought mobility, could perhaps be best translated into English as 'image vehicles' [Bilderfahrzeuge].2 When translated, in reverse order, from its original German meaning, it also encapsulates the notion of 'witnessing the image movement’. The Mnemosyne is, in this sense, a mnemonic fragmentation, aggregation and juxtaposition of image history and image meaning; a lateral and sometimes enigmatic cataloguing system of interrelated motifs with their visual heritage; an ever-changing memory atlas, in which each rearrangement of the photographic material questions previous decisions, distinctions and classifications.

In itself, a single photograph is neither an image nor a document. It is a record, a mediated form of materialisation that determines its own character in a process of constant and repetitive mediation. Contextualisation, relation to language and the specific connection to its singular presence in space (Spiritus loci) and time (Zeitgeist) enforce certain meanings and trigger this process over and over again. Today, the systematising logic of an archive precedes the moment of recording the picture. Before even being seen, selected or distributed, the ‘observation’ made by the digital camera is administratively named, ordered and saved in a pre-existing algorithmic grid on the memory card. Each image is filed in the archive of the memory card before it even starts its digital existence. In this sense it 'pre-exists’ in the structure and logic of the algorithm. If it clashes, or rather, if its logic is incompatible with the structural coupling in the logic of the algorithm, it will not be recorded. To take a picture is therefore to agree to its existence according to the logic of the archive. The performative moment of signifying its existence happens following this dictum, in the initialising moment during the naming of the photo, when the memory card declares: ‘It’s an IMG_298867.jpg'!

The concept of photographic singularity, and its specific moment of capturing the ‘right now’ and compressing it into one representative image, needs to be re-evaluated when considered in the flux of networked images. This concept of photographic singularity results from the assumption that what is captured has to be important, and in reverse of the same argumentation, that it has to be captured to be important. But what happens if we understand the logic of the archive as a logic of avoiding or at least postponing precisely this decision? What if, through networking, the image escapes this very dilemma? What if there is no intention towards a narrative compression and evaluation? Instead, the stream of images fluctuates in a process closer to setting a series of visual differences in space and time, rather than producing an interpretation of what was or is seen. Photographic images then become more interested in existing and surviving in presence, than in delivering a result for the person who intentionally or unintentionally pressed the button. The series of images create an autopoietic depository, something like a buffer or container for operational optical input, disconnected from the decision-making and interpretation of the surrounding world in the immediate and continuously unfolding present tense.

It could be argued that the image itself has become secondary and in many ways subordinate to the form and function of the network. Metadata, tags, links and shares are the mechanisms by which images are bestowed with value, are seen or unseen and proliferate. Disassociated from its origins, identified only by semantic tags and placed in a pool alongside other images that share similar metadata, the snapshot’s resonance is dependent on the interface which mediates our encounter with it3 - although, as always, within the network this cultural economy is in constant flux, contested by myriad factors, human and technological.

That images pervade our online and offline environments, workplaces, leisure time, and everything in-between, and that they are integral to every facet of our social interaction, is no great revelatory statement. From CCTV surveillance imagery, the systematic mapping and categorising of every visible planet and star, the use of ultrasound imaging that begins defining our existence from its conception, through to the ubiquitous and instant recording of our lives, images provide the moments of reference by which we might attempt to position ourselves literally and ontologically.

It is in this dark matter, the intersection between these moments of reference, the nodes of the network, that cultural value is being increasingly established and contested. This space between the digital objects, archives, databases, taxonomies, folksonomies and metadata is where, in fluid motion, the no-longer material or fixed artefacts of our visual culture are now being defined, demarcated, categorised and connected, ‘reflecting a paradigm shift in which there is less value to be extracted from individual images than from the relations between them’.4

Our intimately personal moments are exposed as cultural derivatives through the filter of the network, a phenomenon that Paul Frosh describes as the erasing of ‘indexical singularity, the uniqueness of the instance, in favor of uniformity and recurrence – the systematic iconic repetition of staged image types’5, and that is poetically demonstrated in the images of Penelope Umbrico and Joan Fontcuberta. However, these ephemeral memetic trends that now characterize our contemporary visual cultures also speak to the deepest yearnings for social acceptance and shared experience that arguably extend back to the earliest pre-historic cave markings, and suggests something much more inherently human and vital at work. As Susan Murray says, rather than ‘evoking loss, preservation, and death, we are encouraged to establish a connection with the image that is simultaneously fleeting and a building block of a biographical or social narrative’.6

The proliferation of social media and of hashtags such as #selfie, which – despite being a close relation to the act of self-portraiture set in motion at the very inception of photography by Robert Cornelius in 1839 – uniquely defines a specific shared cultural ritual, remains intrinsically linked to the convergence of the mobile phone and digital camera as a network-enabled visual communication device. This in turn enables the compression of the traditional photographic process into a series of actions that take the average technically-minded person, or inquisitive monkey, only seconds to enact. As a consequence, the photographic process itself has been altered, becoming a ‘a more fluid practice, a playful relationship with the possibilities of the programs that changes completely the creation process and makes it possible that anything, anytime, could become subject of photography’.7

This moment of convergence and compression begins to point towards a deeper ‘promise to fulfil a desire for unmediated photography; photography that takes place without the intervention of the camera’.8 Through wearable technology, sousveillance and the cyborgization of the body, photography and digital imaging become ever more enmeshed with the lived experience, but ‘[i]n an age of endless representations, endless self-fashioning, there emerges another, contrary desire: "to be invisible, if only for 15 minutes"’.9 This then, is perhaps the promise of the networked image. Photography is seen here as neither emancipatory nor inhibiting but, equally, ‘no longer [as] just the embalmer of time that André Bazin once spoke of, but rather [as] a more alive, immediate, and often transitory, practice... signaling a definitive shift in our temporal relationship with the everyday image, and altering the way that we construct narratives about ourselves and the world around us’.10

Text and image curation for Chapter 5: Ross Varney and Michael Wamposzyc



Notes

[1] Horst Bredekamp and Claudia Wedepohl, Warburg, Cassirer und Einstein im Gespräch. Kepler als Schlüssel der Moderne (Berlin: Wagenbach, 2015), 72.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Daniel Rubinstein and Katrina Sluis, ‘A Life More Photographic: Mapping the Networked Image’, Photographies, vol. 1, issue 1, 2008, 9-26.

[4] Katrina Sluis with Erica Scourti, ‘Authorship, Collaboration, Computation?: Into the Realm of Similar Images’, Photoworks Annual: Brighton Photo Biennial, 2014: 150-159.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Susan Murray, ‘Digital Images, Photo-Sharing, and Our Shifting Notions of Everyday Aesthetics’, Journal of Visual Culture, vol. 7 no. 2, 2008: 147-163, 151, 161.

[7] Edgar Gómez Cruz and Eric T. Meyer, ‘Creation and Control in the Photographic Process: iPhones and the Emerging Fifth Moment of Photography’, Photographies, vol. 5, issue 2, 2012, 12, [online] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17540763.2012.702123#.VQXlN-E4eao [Accessed 1 February 2015].

[8] Rubinstein and Sluis, ‘A Life More Photographic’, 9-26.

[9] Hito Steyerl, cited in Katrina Sluis ‘Image Recognition’, Either/And, 2013, http://eitherand.org/exhibitionism/image-recognition/ [Accessed 2 February 2015].

[10] Gómez Cruz and Eric T. Meyer, ‘Creation and Control’, 12.


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Aby Warburg, Mnemosyne Atlas. Panel 79, 1929. The last 'summarising' panel of the Mnemosyne Atlas connects the Eucharist in chronological and geographical order. Warburg and his Assistant Fritz Saxl trace the specific visuality of 'Pathosformel' as an emotionally charged visual trope.

Source: The Warburg Institute. Licence: CC BY-NC 3.0.

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The Warburg Institute Digital Collection, Gods and Myths Iconographic Database, 2014. The Gods and Myths digital collections photomontage displays samples drawn from images and facsimiles from the Warburg Institute Library and Photographic Collection. The four panels relate to the four main sections of the Library: Image, Word, Orientation and Action. The montage method corresponds with Aby Warburg's concept from the Mnemosyne Atlas.

Source: The Warburg Institute Digital Collections. Licence: CC BY-NC 3.0.

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Bastien Engelbach, ‘Nouvelles histoires de fantômes (New Ghost Stories)’ exhibition, Palais de Tokyo, 2014. Installation by Georges Didi-Huberman and Arno Gisinger, inspired by the legendary Mnemosyne Atlas by early 20th century art historian Aby Warburg. It offers a visual meditation on the way in which photography and cinema have extended the life of past masterpieces.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Joshua Communicating with God, 1250-1275. Illuminated manuscripts as an early version of networked communication – here depicting a transcendental communication channel.

Source: Europeana / National Library of the Netherlands. Licence: Public Domain.

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West Midlands Police, CCTV Operator, 2013. Surveillance cameras positioned around Birmingham city centre are monitored 24/7 by CCTV operators; with an estimated 6 million surveillance cameras, the UK has one of the largest CCTV networks in the world. As monitoring technology advances and algorithms become more intelligent, the prospect of increasingly accurate behavioral analysis and crime prediction via vast networked image datasets signals a fundamental shift in the roles of imaging surveillance within society.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0.

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EyeLink 1000 and Michael Wamposzyc, Observing the Observer, 2012. The cybernetic motto visualised as a self-referential loop of eye-tracking the eye-tracking. The Source and Outcome are interlinked and controled in a structural coupling of the process. Part of a series of experiments for Visual Discourses in the Cognitive Research Lab of the University of Potsdam.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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ChaosComputerClub, Blinkenlighs, 2002. Project Blinkenlighs came to life in 2001 with the original Blinkenlights installation at Haus des Lehrers, Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany. In 2002 Project Blinkenlights moved to Paris to create the Arcade light installation at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Glogger, EyeTap, 1999. Steve Mann ‘wears’ his permanently affixed ‘EyeTap’ computer and augmediated reality system. Designed in 1999 and a clear progenitor of Google Glass, the EyeTap works by providing the user with an entirely processed image as opposed to an overlay heads-up display. In this way, the device mediates and therefore fundamentally alters the user’s visual perception of the surrounding environment.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Vehicle Wrapping, 20 Ford Astras used in Germany for Google Street View, 2010. The motorised version of Google Street View's nine eyes camera mounted on top of the cars triggered a serious public outcry about privacy concerns across Europe in 2010. Attached above the average level of human eyesight, Street View lenses take pictures from an elevated position, enabling them to look over hedges and walls that are designed to prevent some areas from being publicly visible.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0.

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Glogger, Sousveillance, 2005. Sousveillance devices being prepared for the 2005 Association for Computer Machinery’s annual conference. Where surveillance refers to the ‘watching from above’, sousveillance relocates the process by means of portable wearable devices, by both physically positioning the image at human level, and politically shifting the act of watching by placing the individual as opposed to the state at the centre of the process.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. GNU Free Documentation Licence v1.2.

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Joanna Zylinska, The Vanishing Object of Technology, 2012. Between 2011-2012 the artist took photographs of tangles of cables and wires in domestic and office settings to capture the supposed transition towards a wireless future.

Source: Author’s own archive. Licence: CC-BY SA.

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Julius von Bismarck and Benjamin Maus, The Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus, 2009, The Apparatus translates words of any text into a never-ending visual story, connecting the narration through its reference to patent drawings. Seven million patents — linked by over 22 million references — form the vocabulary. By using connecting references to earlier patents, it is possible to find paths between arbitrary patents.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Zoubin Ghahramani, Internet Search Queries, 2011. Engineering by Cambridge. An image of internet search queries where each user is represented as a red dot and each blue dot is a term (or phrase) they searched for. Terms are connected to each other through similar users, and users are connected through similar terms. Many interesting kinds of data and problems have a ‘network’ structure like this.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Dr Hermann Cuntz and Prof. Michael Häusser, Computer Simulated Pyramidal Neurons, 2011. This image was created with the ‘TREES toolbox’ software, which allows scientists to generate neuronal structures indistinguishable from those in the real brain. Each neuron is assigned a different colour so that individual structures and processes can be easily distinguished. These synthetic neurons can be viewed in a number of ways, helping scientists learn more about cell shape and neuronal build.

Source: Europeana / Wellcome Trust. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND.

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Barrett Lyon, The Internet, 2003. The Opte project was originally created to generate a 24 hr map of the Internet using a single computer and a single Internet connection to determine the relationship between every routable network on the Internet. The colors in the image are based on allocation of IP space to different registrars in the world and refer to: Red = Asia Pacific, Green = Europe/Middle East/Central Asia/Africa, Blue = North America, Yellow = Latin American and Caribbean, Cyan = RFC1918 IP Addresses, White = Unknown.

Source: http://www.opte.org/the-internet/. Licence: CC BY-NC 4.0.

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Gabitogol, Metadata, 2011. Metadata is essentially data about data and contains structural information referring to the technical aspects of the digital object and the description of the object or content itself. Metadata facilitates the search and retrieval of digital resources by identifying them with associated information to enable the specific identification, organization, and relational location of the resource. This image displays metadata extracted from video resources.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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Wolfgang Moroder, Ultrasound, 2012. Ultrasound image of a foetus at 12 weeks of pregnancy. Ultrasonic imaging was first experimented with in the 1930’s, harnessing the use of oscillating sound pressure waves to generate low contrast visualizations.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Photo by Floor van de Velde via Josephine Dorado, Warning: This Body Is Networked, 2007. Temporary tattoo on Josephine Dorado. Design by Josephine Dorado, photo by Floor van de Velde.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Ai Weiwei, Weiweicam, 2012. WeiweiCam is a self-surveillance project by artist Ai Weiwei that went live on April 3, 2012, exactly one year after the artist's home arrest by Chinese authorities, who installed at least fifteen surveillance cameras to monitor his house in Beijing. Ai Weiwei described his decision to put himself under further surveillance as a symbolic way to increase transparency in the Chinese government. WeiweiCam consisted of four webcams that sent a live 24-hour publicly viewable feed from the website weiweicam.com, which remained live for 46 hours before it was ordered to be shut down.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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Moonflowerdragon Facing Off the Library Pigeon, 2011. ‘Finally, with mesh, and thanks to Zooby's, I have a somewhat life-like cat avatar. It reminds me of the (late) family cat “Dracula” (another story). Next I'll need a lap-sitting pose and petting animations to enhance interactions with cat-loving friends’.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Kevin Dooley, Street View, 2013. Composition photomontage image of Varna, Bulgaria, created using Street View. The figure's face has been identified through the use of automatic face detection algorithms and blurred out for privacy purposes.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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Adam Harvey, CV Dazzle 2010. CV Dazzle is developed by Adam Harvey, an artist whose work explores the impact of surveillance technologies. The name is derived from a type of World War I naval camouflage called Dazzle, which used cubist-inspired designs to break apart the visual continuity of a battleship and conceal its orientation and size. Likewise, CV Dazzle uses avant-garde hairstyling and makeup designs to break apart the continuity of a face. Since facial-recognition algorithms rely on the identification and spatial relationship of key facial features, like symmetry and tonal contours, one can block detection by creating an 'anti-face'.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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Robert Cornelius, Self Portrait, 1893. The first known photographic (self) portrait image, a quarter plate daguerreotype taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839 captures the artist looking into the camera with arms crossed.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Unknown, Self Portrait, ca. 1900. An unidentified woman takes her own photograph in a mirror with a box camera, circa 1900. A collection of presumably family photographs on display is visible to the right of the frame.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Felix Nadar, Self Portrait Collage, ca. 1865. Félix Nadar was the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1 April 1820, Paris – 23 March 1910), a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist and balloonist, a pioneer in the use of artificial lighting in photography and known for his celebrity images of the time.

Source: Public Domain Review. Licence: Public Domain.

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Kippelboy, Joan Fontcuberta El món neix en cada besada (The World is born in every kiss), 2014. Joan Fontcuberta asked readers of the newspaper El Periódico to translate into images their response to the question, 'What does freedom mean to you?' The kiss is designed to symbolise freedom, affection and empathy. The piece consists of an 8 x 3.8 m photomosaic of a giant kiss made up of 4000 small-format photographs printed onto tiles. Fontcuberta has arranged the photographs according to colour and density in such a way that, seen from a distance, they form the image of a giant kiss.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0.

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Macaca, Self Portrait, 2011. Self-portrait of a female celebes crested macaque in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, who had picked up photographer David Slater's camera and photographed herself with it. The image is interesting as it sparked debate about where the copyright for the image lies, because, as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.

Source: Wikipedia. Licence: Public Domain.

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems, Original Space Selfie, 2012. On Sol 32 (Sept. 7, 2012) the Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) located on its arm to obtain this self-portrait on the surface of Mars as part of routine inspection checks. The image shows the top of Curiosity's Remote Sensing Mast including the ChemCam, two Mast cameras and four Navigation cameras. The angle of the frame reflects the position of the MAHLI camera on the arm when the image was taken.

Source: Wikipedia. Licence: Public Domain.

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Steve Rhodes 5,377,183 Suns from flickr (partial) 4/28/09 by Penelope Umbrico at SFMOMA, 2010. Began in 2006 and still ongoing, Umbrico’s project explores ideas of originality and replication in the culture of online sharing. The artist zooms on a snapshot she finds that features a sunset, cuts out the sun from it, resizes it and adds it to the ever growing grid of burnt out white globes.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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Michael Wamposzyc, 'Spiegel' Covers from 1945 to iPad, 2012. A visual-explorative analysis of all of the published covers of the German political weekly Der Spiegel.

Source: Author’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Unknown photographer, The FBI's fingerprint files, 1944. By the early 1940s, the FBI's archive in Washington D.C. housed more than 23 million card records and 10 million fingerprint records, with 400,000 new cards added every month. Since 1924, the FBI has been the single U.S. repository for fingerprints. Computers were first installed to search these files in 1980.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Mariano Cecowski, Cueva de las Manos (Cave of Hands), 2005. The Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) contains an exceptional assemblage of cave art, executed between 13,000 and 9,500 years ago, which bears witness to the culture of the earliest human societies in South America. It takes its name from the stenciled outlines of human hands in the cave, but there are also many depictions of animals and hunting scenes.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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GOV.UK, Photos do's and don’ts, 2014. 'Your photos may be rejected unless they show you: facing forward and looking straight at the camera; with a neutral expression and your mouth closed; without anything covering the face; in clear contrast to the background; without a head covering (unless it’s worn for religious or medical reasons); with eyes open, visible and free from reflection or glare from glasses; with your eyes not covered by sunglasses, tinted glasses, glasses frames or hair; without any ‘red eye’; without any shadows in the picture.'

Source: www.gov.uk. Licence: Open Government Licence v3.0.

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Niko Princen, Me and My Visual Similar Friends, 2013 - ongoing. Series of artist's experiments with algorithmic image recognition in Google Image Search.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Niko Princen, Time and Images Again, 2013 - ongoing. A series of performances with circular repetition of images from mobile phones of the participants.

Source: Artist’s own archive. Licence: CC BY-SA.

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Anatoly Kashpirovsky for USSR TV, 1989. Anatoly Mikhailovich Kashpirovsky became an unexpected TV celebrity, after several of his hypnotic healing sessions were shown on Soviet television. Kashpirovsky was shown removing the pain of patients who remained conscious during medical operations by addressing them via teleconferencing.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Danny Choo, Makankosappo, 2013. Makankosappo, literally ‘Magic Penetrating Killing Ray’, became an image-based Internet meme derived from a Japanese anime series and started by Japanese schoolgirls photographing themselves apparently using, and being affected by, the special attack of the same name in the popular Dragonball franchise.

Source: Flickr. Licence. CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Winky Dink and You, 'Winky Dink and You' was a popular children's television show that aired on CBS from 1953 to 1957. A TV extension kit, containing the screen and various Winky Dink crayons, could be purchased for 50 cents. In a climactic scene in every Winky Dink short, Winky would appear in a sequence that contained a 'join the dots' picture. He would then prompt viewers at home to complete the picture on the TV screen. The finished result would help him to continue to narrate the story.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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NASA, Apollo 7 first live television transmission from space, 1968. Astronauts Walter M. Schirra Jr. mission commander; and Donn F. Eisele, command module pilot; are seen during the first live television transmission from space aboard the orbiting Apollo 7 in 1968. Schirra is holding a sign which reads, 'Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!'

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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NASA, First view of the Earth from the Moon 1966. The world's first view of Earth transmitted to Earth by the United States Lunar Orbiter I and received at the NASA tracking station at Robledo De Chavela near Madrid, Spain. This crescent of the Earth was photographed August 23, 1966 when the spacecraft was on its 16th orbit and just about to pass behind the Moon.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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James Vaughan, Television Eyeglasses, 1963. Hugo Gernsback wears a mockup television visor as an example of future technology he believed would be invented. Gernsback was an inventor, writer, editor, and magazine publisher, best known for publications including the first science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Max Headroom, 1984. Max Headroom was a fictional British artificial intelligence (AI), known for his wit and stuttering, distorted, electronically sampled voice. He was introduced as 'The World's first computer-generated TV host', although the computer-generated appearance was achieved with prosthetic make up and hand-drawn backgrounds, as the computer technology of the time was not sufficiently advanced to achieve the desired effect.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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Diagnostic TV Test Screens . Generally, after the carrier signal for an analog television is cut, the viewer only sees or hears a random signal with a constant power spectral density, often refered to as 'white noise'. After the broadcasted sign-off procedure, a test pattern is generated, usualy displaying a variation of the station logo with vertical and horizontal adjustment stripes. It is often accompanied by a monotonous sound encouraging sleeping viewers to turn their TV sets off.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Trey Ratcliff, The TWIT Network Mothership Table, 2012. The studio has a number of different ‘sets’ there for different shows. This is the main round table where Leo Laporte does some of his biggest shows: This Week in Tech, MacBreak Weekly, This Week in Google.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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CBP, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Control, 2007. Air and marine officers control and watch images taken by customs and border protection unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). This surveillance provides information concerning suspicious or illegal activities taking place in remote areas to border patrol agents on the ground.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public Domain.

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Pierre Rennes, We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us. 2012. A protester wears a Guy Fawkes mask and GoPro head mounted camera. The stylized mask designed by illustrator David Lloyd became a central visual motif of Alan Moore’s Graphic Novel V for Vendetta and has since become associated with the protesting activities of the hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’, providing both anonymity from surveillance and a shared politicized image.

Source: Flickr. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

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Maurice Benayoun, World Skin, 1997. A virtual reality interactive installation that immerses camera equipped visitors into a three-dimensional virtual photo safari exploring the Land of War. News images and found photographs from global war zones are layered together presenting a mediated space imbued by mute violence. Visitors are invited to take ‘snapshots’ of the violent digital landscape presented to them, which are then stored and made available online, enduring digital representations of conflicts real and imagined.

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY 3.0.

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