Preliminary Exercise

Re-photograph every photographic image that you encounter on a single day

We’ve had no central heating for the last couple of days and so were reminiscing about the ‘olden’ days when all there was was a coal fire in the living room and hot water bottles to take to bed. We didn’t have a telephone so had to use a public call box or write letters. Efforts had to be made to keep in touch. My dad brought home two newspapers every day and then there was Reveille and Picture Post. TV was BBC1 and ITV and we were regular cinemagoers. I’m talking up until the 1960s here. Change was slow until the internet and email arrived at the end of the 1990s.I completed the exercise yesterday – a day when I didn’t leave the house apart from walking the dogs where I saw an advert stuck to a tree.  No shopping where I might have seen adverts, bought a newspaper/magazine or go to the cinema as I did the night before. Apart from the photographs I see on my shelves everyday, some reproduction prints, and photographic images on book covers everything else was about me being on the internet or (not) watching TV. I did do some reading in-between though – in real books, but they didn’t have any pictures inside them. Here’s a selection.

 

 

Reflection

I’m reminded how much I rely on the internet for information nowadays and that I am flooded by images on a daily basis, as Erik Kessels so imaginatively evoked in his installation of one day on Flickr at the Arles Photography Festival in 2013. I wrote about it here . Looking at the News programme I noticed how everything is fast-paced, switching from one speaker to another and utilising what seemed often to be stock photographs to illustrate an event. I was reminded as well how many times I now click onto Facebook, after resisting for a long time, because a lot of my fellow students now comment there as opposed to the OCA Flickr site. There is a constant stream of images to look at. I may have made a couple of telephone calls but, then, it’s easy to message on Facebook and you don’t need to worry about structuring paragraphs. Everything is fast and easy. Facebook, Yahoo and Google track me and then offer me all kinds of products on the screen to tempt me to look and buy. The internet draws me in to it’s plastic world yet I quickly dissociate from watching TV in the evening unless something really interests me, and turn to books and reading.

I used to buy books and go to the nearest University library to do academic research. I still buy books but the internet is now my library. Looking at my grid I can see how one website led me to another as I did some research on Mishka Henner for example. A fellow student had written in her blog about a talk at the Photographers Gallery, on Appropriation after the Internet, where Henner had expressed his opinion that images are not photographs on the internet – they are something else. I found a 2015 website interview on Elephant Magazine where he was asked the question “So is what you do photography?” One of his three responses was

“I do take photographs – that is, I take other people’s photographs. I take photographs from the network. But they’re not really photographs. They’re mostly data, they’re digital bits. When I think of photographs I think of chemicals on light-sensitive paper, you know. And of course that’s not what I’m working with.”

This linked in very well with my current slow reading of What Photography Is (J. Elkins, 2009). There was a post recently on Disphotic   where Lewis Bush was noting something for the future and his view on the difference between photography and Photography. His view of the former is that this applies “….in the sense of the mechanism and media of photography” whereas the latter, Photography,  is  “… where the image has been thoughtfully constructed, selected or organised by a person to achieve a well defined impact”. Does this then make Henner’s work Photography whilst Google Streetview is photography?  There’s much to think about there as I work through the Module.

 

11th March 2016

 

 

References

Elkins, J. (2009) What photography is. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

https://uvcsjf.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/appropriation-after-the-internet-3316-tpg/
http://www.disphotic.com/on-photography-and-photography/
http://www.elephantmag.com/mishka-henner-art-as-geospatial-intelligence-gathering/

 

 

 

 

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5 comments

  1. Can’t wait to read your thoughts on the Elkins book. I think about the things he wrote often and will need to re-read it again soon. Whatever else a photograph may be, I am fixated with the Situationists’ suggestion that “an image is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image”. Don’t suppose it matters how the image is made – chemicals and paper or pixels.

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    1. I’m sure I’ll be referring to Elkins again – frequently – when I’ve made sense of how he is arguing with Barthes.
      Keeping it at a basic level for me, for now, there is a difference. A print can be held and touched, pixels on a screen can only be seen. I think that Henner is rationalising appropriation here. The exercise only suggests 200 words for the reflection so I was trying to be ‘disciplined’ but there are so many rationalisations (or ‘excuses) for appropriation. I need to keep this in mind was I travel my own path along this route.

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