wk 13: links


















wk 13: Photography and Digital Networks

In Jason Evans essay from Words without Pictures titled “Online Photographic Thinking”, Evans addresses the role of the internet in contemporary art photography. In his essay written in 2008, Evans stated, “I am underwhelmed by photography’s presence online and the lack of innovative explorations of the new medium.” He went on to speak about his relationship to the medium, in regards to his online presence and  also gave examples of what he deemed successful uses of the internet. Most of which are now defunct. Evan’s website the http://www.thedailynice.com is still running today. In the comments section of the essay, there is criticism of Evan’s thoughts.

The main theme of the criticism is the lack of context when photography is online. Context is integral to art. Questions arise about how to control context and how to guide the viewer. Internet gives one agency over how you want the work to look. Context needs to be controlled in order for web presence or even the work on a wall or a book to convey something. Evan states: “I’ve never been very interested in qualitative judgments brought to bear on photographs; all photographs can work given the right context.” He makes a qualitative judgment that web presence, book form, and art for the wall are equal. Each work can exist in multiple forms, however, it does not mean that it should be online just because you have the ability to. Evan’s make a point about audience and how many people you want the work to reach, though it comes off as snide; “If an audience is what you prefer (as opposed to a physical thing like a book or a show as the testimony to your photographic talent), then the internet is for you.”

The thing I take away from Evan’s is the potential for work to exist on the web. The comments from 2008, would be different if responded to today. There has been a significant change in the types of online photographic presence and art presence in the past 5 years. Myspace no longer exists in same sense; Twitter’s presence has dulled; Vine and snapchat have been introduced, Instagram top’s social media and facebook recognized this by purchasing it in 2012.

There is a recognition of this shift. Last week, with Susan Bright visit, Bright gave us insight into how she begins (as an independent curator) trying to find work for an exhibition. Bright told us in seminar, that she begins with her ideas and posts on Social Media; Instagram, twitter, facebook, etc. then through word of mouth, she gets artists work. She mixes well-known and lesser known. A lot of the art, I do look at comes in blog form on tumblr (http://mpdrolet.tumblr.com) Iheartphotograph used to be a big one. There is a growing community using blogs and other social media to promote artists, galleries, their own work. I think an important example of using the internet for an exhibition is Andy Adam’s flakphoto Looking at the Land. It combines digital media and print in a gallery and online. http://flakphoto.com/content/looking-at-the-land-21st-century-american-views.

Another example of web presence is Mitch Epstein. To accompany his monograph, Epstein launched the website http://whatisamericanpower.com that provides more context to work than the actual book. The website has more textual information; The book operates visually.

A quote I took from the article, from Penelope Umbrico,

The idea of exchange and engagement with the platform itself (creating work on, with, and for this platform) is where the interesting space on the Internet is for me, with regard to photography. I am inspired by the many artists’ projects on the Web that use the Web and its technology to produce the work… By addressing the shifts in meaning that result from the shifts in content and context inherent on the Web, artists are finding agency by utilizing the potential of the Internet as a tool for making, as well as circulating.

The readings made me think about my soldiers project and how the online aspect is integral to the work. Marrying the visual and textual information. The visual brings you in and how what textual information I can link, to can direct the project. The Lee Manovich article from Aperture also expanded my thinking. The article provides concrete examples of how textual in the form of statistics and data information can inform form.

But by rendering the same set of images in multiple ways, we remind viewers that no single visualization offers a transparent interpretation, just as no single traditional documentary image could be considered neutral. The tremendous diversity of social photography reflects the complex patterns of life unfolding in the world’s cities—this can never be fully captured in a single visualization, despite our ability to harness an excess of images(Aperture, Spring, 2014).

Lee Manovich’s The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production, written after Jason Evan’s essay about a year later, expands on Evan’s argument. Web 2.0 introduced social media and user-generated content. Manovich’s idea of the remix is similar to, what was addressed in last weeks readings, “Post-Production” by Nicolas Bourriaud. Bourriaud’s approaches contemporary art practices and Manovich’s acknowledges the culture surrounding it, before bringing it an art context.

Manovich tracks the progression after the introduction of Web 2.0. Web 2.0 changes how one relates to the world. Introducing user-generated context and user-controlled content (that can be customized within a given framework) leads to the sharing of the everyday. Through social media. This increase or progression will end up at having the ability to broadcast one’s life 24/7.

(First minute only)

The YouTube clip is also an example of what Manovich acknowledged about users appropriating content from consumer media products. “They now make their own cultural products that follow the templates established by the professionals and/or rely on professional connect.” The clip is an unofficial copy from the film, uploaded multiple times.

Manovich also addresses how conversation takes place.

We see new kinds of communication where factual content, opinion, and conversation often can’t be clearly separated… Often content, news, or media become tokens used to initiate or maintain a conversation. Their original meaning is less important than their function as tokens…web infrastructure and software allow such conversations to become distributed in space and time; people can respond to each other regardless of their location, and the conversation can in theory go forever (227).

The introduction of responding to a video with a new video. My examples are below, in terms of critique, through parody:

The use of video response can be akin to an artist responding to a previous work of art, Nicolas Bourriaud, “Post-Production” examples would fit here. Manovich stated:

       Conversations between people con- ducted through and around visual and/or sound objects can also be related to exchanges between professional critics. Through the medium of a journal, modern art critics were able to respond to each other relatively quickly—if not in hours, then at least in weeks. In fact, such exchanges between critics (and sometimes modernist artists who also acted as critics and theorists) played a key role in the development of modern art (329).


The Internet sped up this interaction considerably. I wonder how this immediacy has an affect on the progression of photography to what it is now and what it will be? I want to end with the last line from Manovich because I believe it as relevant as it was in 2009, “The true challenge posed to art by social media may not be all the excellent cultural work produced by students and non professionals…The real challenge may lie in the dynamics of web 2.0 culture—its constant innovation, its energy, and its unpredictability (331).