y d b n tc e o it Ed an F Jo
Foreword Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal (MPM) mobilizes an impressive number of visual art experts and holds a prominent place on the international contemporary art scene. An ambitious platform for innovative curatorial endeavours, MPM fosters artistic excellence, maps current trends, and promote experimentation. The biennial sets the stage for the critical understanding of current photographic discourses and generates an engaging dialogue on the contemporary image. Through a rigorously curated and provocative exhibition program that showcases established and emerging Canadian and international artists, MPM is at the forefront of current investigations on contemporary still and moving images. We collaborate with acclaimed art professionals, scholars, and curators, advancing leading-edge research and discourse on contemporary art. The 2015 biennial features twenty-nine artists from five continents and presents more than one hundred works, some of which have been specially created for this 14th edition. For Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal 2015, I was fortunate to work with guest curator Joan Fontcuberta, artist, globetrotter, lover of good food and drink, and man of many hats. Working with Joan on The PostPhotographic Condition, a theme close to his heart and very much part of current visual art discourse, was a pleasure and an adventure. We produced a timely, cutting-edge, and exciting biennial of international scope, recognizing a group of talented artists working on similar preoccupations in vastly distinctive ways and introducing many known artists never before shown in North America.
One of MPM’s core preoccupations is an emphasis on debate, research, and analysis, advancing the study and production of contemporary image practices. To this end, MPM invited four accomplished authors, Derrick de Kerckhove, Suzanne Paquet, Fred Ritchin, and David Tomas, to contribute to the publication with the aim of adding further perspectives to the theme. This book is an attempt to open avenues of critical understanding without necessarily coming to a conclusion. The result is a thought-provoking and fascinating reference book on the post-photographic condition. Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal is a large and complex affair, and its success is due to the hundreds of people involved, from the guest curator whose ideas are the launching pad for the biennial, to the artists from around the globe who are the focal point of this project, to the authors of the publication and the conference presenters who bring a wider vision, approach, and voice to the theme, to the leading exhibition venues paramount to the development of the biennial, to the much-needed and -appreciated financial partners, experts, consultants, friends, and other collaborators. And we must not forget those behind the scenes, the engine of the biennial, including the MPM team, the board of directors, and the interns and volunteers who have dedicated their time and energy to making this impressive machine flourish. We move forward with much pride knowing that what we are presenting is current, exciting, and stimulating.
Kat i a M e i r E xe c u t i ve D i re ct o r
INTRODUCTION AN INFINITE GAZE, A PROMISCUOUS IMAGE — J oa n Fontcub e rta We are bedevilled by an unprecedented glut of images. This inflation is not due to the excrescence of a hypertechnologized society, but, rather, is a symptom of a cultural and political pathology, within which the post-photographic phenomenon has irrupted. Post-photography is photography that flows in the hybrid space of digital sociability and is a consequence of visual overabundance. The iconosphere is no longer just a metaphor: we inhabit the image and the image inhabits us. 1. Joan Fontcuberta, “Por un manifiesto postfotográfico,” in the weekly “Cultura/s” supplement of the newspaper La Vanguardia (Barcelona), May 11, 2011, accessed June 1, 2015, http://www. lavanguardia.com /cultura/ 20110511 /54152218372 /por-un-manifiestoposfotografico.html. Adapted from the English version published in Vision Anew: The Lens and Screen Arts, eds. Adam Bell and Charles H. Traub (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015), 254–61.
In post-photography, truth and memory – once fundamental qualities of the camera – are brushed aside in favour of connectivity and communication. Photography has joined the SoLoMo (SOcial, LOcal, MObile) club. Use trumps literalness. The image loses its magical dimension and becomes secularized. Massification trivializes it. Extraordinary experiences (decisive moments) are overwhelmed by banal experiences (indecisive moments). The mandate of stability and persistence is usurped by that of “contamination” and instantaneity. The document retreats into autobiographical inscription. Narrative and conversational gestures oust description. The desire for immanence and immortality is replaced by a desire for transience and simultaneity. Economy of means surrenders to transmediality. The dictatorship of the screens imposes the new visual order . . . Proposed here, for the analysis of this new set of circumstances, are approaches that prioritize epistemological and anthropological factors: how has our relationship with images changed? What significant new spaces are images beginning to occupy in our lives? Post-photographic practices are emerging as a reaction to the answers to these questions, which are multiple and disparate. Their programmatic hypotheses, in the field of visual arts, could be itemized in the following decalogue:1
1. Concerning the role of the artist: It is a question no longer of producing “works” but of a prescriptive assignment of meanings. 2. Concerning the intervention of the artist: The artist merges with the curator, with the collector, with the educator, with the historian, and with the theorist . . . All of these facets appear to be chameleonically authorial. 3. Concerning the responsibility of the artist: An ecology of the visual penalizes saturation and encourages recycling. 4. Concerning the function of images: The circulation and management of the image prevail over the content of the image. 5. Concerning the philosophy of art: Discourses of originality are delegitimized and practices of adoption (formerly known as “appropriation”) are standardized. 6. Concerning the dialectic of the subject: The author is camouflaged or in the cloud(s). Alternative models of authorship are formulated: co-authoring, collaborative creation, interactivity, strategic anonymities, and orphaned works. 7. Concerning the dialectic of the social: The tensions between the private and the public vanish. Intimacy becomes a relic. 8. Concerning the horizon of art: Importance is placed on the playful over the anhedonia (the solemn + the boring) in which hegemonic art often takes refuge. 9. Concerning the experience of art: Creative practices that reconcile us to dispossession are favoured – sharing is better than owning. 10. Concerning the politics of art: Glamour and marketing are renounced in favour of a cultural activism intended to rattle consciences.
Basically, post-photography endorses the dematerialization of authorship by dissolving the notions of originality and ownership. But – effectively updating Benjamin – it also points to a rethinking of the status of the artwork in the age of digital appropriability. The digital revolution prompts yet another dematerialization, that of content, and dissemination on the Internet gives artworks a fluidity far greater than that of existing channels. In this context, appropriability is more than just a feature of digital content: it emerges as the new paradigm of post-photographic culture. Recycling and remixing are reinforced, and artistic action emphasizes an exercise of selecting and ranking according to criteria of operative visual analogies, with little importance attached to the origin or authorship of the images. Creation is underpinned, then, by elective affinities, by the outcome of acts of critical choice, and thus, rather than speaking of “appropriation,” we tend to speak of “adoption,” from the Latin ad optare: choosing. Appropriation privileges the transgression of theft, whereas adoption privileges instead the act of choosing. Adopting images involves resemanticizing them, bringing them back to life, and helping them rediscover meaning, as when we raise a foster child not related to us by birth. Based on the above mentioned issues, The PostPhotographic Condition is divided into three conceptual axes (“A New Visual Order,” “Reality Reloaded,” and “Reviewing the Subject”), depending on whether the idea is grounded in the status of the image as such, in the critique of the subject, or in the negotiation with the real. Projects by twenty-nine contemporary artists linked to a post-photographic orientation illustrate or subvert these categories, showing how the richness of their creation resists rudimentary schematization and calls instead for a nodal structural model, in which their approaches contaminate one another.
In the intellectual adventure of The Post-Photographic Condition, we are also accompanied by four prestigious authors, who fertilize the debate from particular perspectives. First to fire is David Tomas,2 whotakes exception to the way that we engage with photography in isolation rather than intersystemically – that is, including the context of the communication and the full diversity of the transmission of information. Tomas provocatively concludes that all radical photography practices have always been post-photographic and proposes Dziga Vertov’s 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera as an early manifesto of post-photography. Next, Derrick de Kerckhove confines the realm of post-photography, which he prefers to call “augmented photography,” to a form of still image hybridized with video and multimedia and analyzes instances of photographic creation implemented by interactive devices. The viability of photojournalism and documentary practices in the postphotographic era is then assessed by Fred Ritchin, undoubtedly the pioneer in research on the subject. Following the deconstruction of the documentary, Ritchin’s text advocates for its reconstruction. Finally, Suzanne Paquet considers cyberspace as the new public space in which images split, reflect, reproduce, and create the world – a space in which cascading photographs fluctuate to the impulse of its kinetic energy, favouring all kinds of practices. In short, we offer here a speculative interpretation that is not devoid of the risk of immediacy or of a lack of historical distance, because we are dealing not with fossilized cadavers, but with palpitating creations. We are guided not by the role of enlighteners, which would probably be pretentious, but by the pleasure of sharing curiosity and discovery. It is as if we were saying, “Just look at what’s happening!” Grounded in terms of maximizing entropy, it would be a matter of projecting some sort of order onto the chaos of contemporary visuality: acknowledging what is occurring and trying to decipher it.
On the strength of the available data, Tomas can be credited with the earliest use of the term “post-photography”; see “From the Photograph to Postphotographic Practice: Toward a Postoptical Ecology of the Eye,” SubStance 55 (1988): 59–68.
THE POSTPHOTOGRAPHIC CONDITION — J oa n Fontcub e rta
Geoffrey Batchen has discussed this idea in several books; see, among others, Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002).
of the visual language that photography has hegemonically ingrained in us over a century and a half.
“What’s in a name?” Juliet asks. “That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” With Shakespeare’s words ringing in our ears, it is worth investigating the significance of a neologism, such as “post-photography” . . . and exploring what it smells like too. It doesn’t smell of the darkroom’s acetic acid or of the dust on a scrapbook of sepia souvenirs. The fact is, we have no idea what it smells like – we know only what it doesn’t smell like.
While the transition from painting to photography represented a palpable break, the transition from photography to post-photography has constituted an invisible disruption. It is a disruption because its consequences nullify or render obsolete the previous stage. Photography may have caused painting to change its course, but it did not wipe it off the map. Contrarily, in the tangle with post-photography, photography seems to have been swallowed up. The disruption is invisible because users have not noticed the change and, in all candour, still call what they do “photography.” They are aware, inevitably, of the technological advances in the equipment that they use, and in the social spaces in which it is applied, but the profound transformation has taken place out of sight. This is the basis for Geoffrey Batchen’s insightful view that we should think not of an “after” photography but of a “beyond” photography.1 Post-photography crouches “beyond” photography, which is then reduced to the mere facade of a building featuring an interior structure that has been thoroughly remodelled. This inner structure is conceptual and ideological, precisely replacing many of the seminal functions and ontological characteristics that have given rise to the post-photographic condition. Such a substitution can also be read as a transcendence, in that post-photography is what transcends or goes beyond photography, or at least photography as we have understood it until now.
We might begin, then, by acknowledging the uneasiness caused by the term “post-photography.” Post- indicates abandonment or expulsion: the door closing behind us – plaf! – as we enter some kind of posterity. The prefix “post” also evokes farewell. But what are we abandoning, into what posterity are we settling, to what are we saying goodbye? When we cross a threshold, the perception of entering or leaving depends on where the action is observed from. A door that closes is a door that opens. In the case of the word “post-photography,” we tend to focus on the rear-view mirror and on what we are leaving behind, instead of looking in front of us. Strategically, this is a mistake, perhaps caused by awkwardness, because the word “post-photography” essentially designates not what something is but rather, and above all, what it is not. And in this sense, it reflects a failure – not of language and the nominalist obsessions of nomenclature, but a failure caused by a certain kind of nostalgia and loss. Similarly, there was also doubt and hesitation back in the nineteenth century over the naming of rough images made with light, until the term “photography” was coined by Sir John Herschel. The problem is, of course, not just one of words. Today, we are witnessing not the birth of a technique but the transmutation of fundamental values. The carapace remains unharmed, but its soul is being transformed, in a sort of metempsychosis. We are witnessing not the invention of a process but the uninventing of a culture – the dismantling
Post-Photography Explained to Children The term “post-photography” first appeared in academic circles in the early 1990s. Some theorists limited its scope to specific photographic practices associated with postmodern postulates (indeed, essays and anthologies along these lines are still being published today). Others linked its signifying
range to the effects of digital technology. The boom in digital cameras and affordable scanners, along with home computers and easy-to-use graphics processing and electronic retouching software (of which Photoshop became the paradigm), nurtured the conviction that photography was embarking on a new phase. This time round, it was clearly no longer a matter of a few simple technical refinements, of the kind that the history of the medium – from the daguerreotype to superautomatic electronic cameras – had never ceased to deliver. Now it was something more profound and substantial, which shook the ontology of the image and metaphysics of visual experience, as if in the leap from silver salts to silicon all of the alchemical equations had shattered. A photograph built up as a mosaic of directly intervenable pixels exploded the founding myths of indexicality and transparency that had underpinned the consensus regarding the credibility of the camera’s products. For digital photography, truth was an option, not an obstinate obsession. In effect, the discourse on visual truth, which monopolized much of the initial debate, attempted to assess how this progressive discrediting was affecting various spheres of photographic activity, from personal mementoes to photojournalism. There was no lack of discordant voices arguing that the public was the victim of an illusion. Essentially, they said that nothing of substance had changed, in that images were still being generated by exactly the same properties of light and optics and embodying the old pictorial conventions of the realist model.2 Moreover, they argued that the photographic image had been exposed, since its very beginnings, to all kinds of manipulations, in the form of subjective rhetoric, photomontage, or the multiple resources of graphic editing. The tools had changed, of course, but the potential for deception had long existed. Quite so, we might reply, but this take on the discussion of the post-photographic is beset by the old reductionism, which attaches excessive weight to the tools, to the technology. What is really at issue is not that digital photography can also lie, but that
the facility and familiarity of digital lying effectively engender a critical consciousness in the public. The main point is not about digital technology, though it served as a catalyst, but about growing and increasingly widespread scepticism. This unprecedented and irreversible shift in attitude – or epistemological leap – reflects the repudiation of the social contract that photography had until then been party to: a protocol of trust in the notion of photographic evidence. In fact, the post-photographic era was consolidated in the next decade. The turn of the millennium brought with it a second digital revolution, characterized by the prominence of the Internet, social networks, and mobile telephony. All facets of life, from personal relations to economics and from communications to politics, have been rocked to their foundations: the world has become a place governed by instantaneity, globalization, and dematerialization. This new world will not only have a tremendous impact on the image, but the image, itself, will become its core fibre.
An Explosion of Images The profusion of images that sustains this capitalism of appearances is not engendered solely by the needs of the media and the market. It is also nourished by corporate and public entities, given the ubiquity of surveillance cameras and facial recognition systems, satellites, and other automated gizmos for capturing graphic information. The real novelty lies in the incorporation into this frenzy of Homo photographicus, the species toward which we humans have evolved, in response to an environment characterized by the proliferation of inexpensive, easy-to-use pocket cameras and cellphones with built-in cameras, which produce photographs at zero cost. For the first time, we are all producers and consumers of images, and this simultaneous combination of circumstances has triggered an almost infinite visual avalanche. The image no longer acts as a mediator between us and the world, but fuses us with it, when it is not its raw material.
This view is obviously changing with the generation of synthesized photorealist images and the appearance of 3D printers.
José Luis Brea, Las tres eras de la imagen: imagenmateria, film, e-image (Madrid: Ediciones Akal, 2010), 67 (our translation).
Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2000).
Thus, we find ourselves in an era in which images are comprehended through the idea of excess, an era in which we speak of the consequences of mass production as asphyxiation rather than emancipation, just as we reprise, in adapted form, the old dialectic between the apocalyptic and the integrated. The idea of the excess of images – an apparent “epidemic of images” – seems to cause hypervisibility and universal voyeurism on the one hand, and blindness or insensitivity on the other. It calls for a deeper and more critical treatment that addresses not only the specific conditions of the image but also the logic of management, dissemination, and control, to which artists such as Harun Farocki and Antoni Muntadas have repeatedly alerted us. A phenomenon of the massive removal of images exists in the midst of image abundance. The politics of the image lie not so much in excesses as in the ability to discard images, make them vanish, or censor them. The model of the human eye has been losing ground as a mechanism for seeing, in favour of a new logic of visual production in which images are created out of other images. The consequence of such excess is immediate and comprehensive access to images, an infinite availability that we do not yet know whether to consider a privilege or an impediment: a privilege because never before have we benefitted from such an exuberance of repositories, and an impediment because we tend to lose our way in the inextricable jungle. In this extraordinary accumulation, the photograph loses the condition of exclusive exquisite object that it once enjoyed. Lacking value, it is trivialized; lacking the physicality of an object, it is dematerialized. And this is perhaps its seminal ontological distinction. Post-photography introduces us to the dematerialized, pre-eminent image, consisting of disembodied information that converts images into entities that can be transmitted and circulated in a frenetic, incessant flow. In José Luis Brea’s view, this situation causes images to exist in a state between appearance and disappearance: To a great extent, electronic images have the quality of mental images. They appear in places from which they immediately vanish. They are spectres, pure spectres, alien to every principle of reality. If, in Lacan’s phrase, the Real is what returns, electronic images lack all reality, in lacking the slightest will to return. They are of the order of that which does not return, of that which,
we might say, does not move through the world “to stay.” Lacking recursiveness, constancy, or sustainability, their being is light and ephemeral, purely transitory.3
If we shift this model of opposition between photography and post-photography to the field of philosophy, we find clear reverberations throughout history, from the pre-Socratics to today. Heraclitus, for example, anticipated the spirit of the Internet when he argued that the basis of everything is the evolution of ceaseless change (“Nothing is permanent, everything fluctuates”); his adversaries, Parmenides and Democritus, opposed this idea with, respectively, the permanence of being and the theory of atomism, which, in turn, would correspond to the sustainability and materiality of photography. Jumping forward to the contemporary world, the values of fluidity and solidity connect us to the premises of a liquid modernity in opposition to a solid modernity, as formulated by Zygmunt Bauman.4 Bauman alludes to the need for versatile, pliable, and changeable identities to accommodate the various mutations facing the subject. Are we not, in fact, invoking the idea of a “liquid photography”? We are interested in post-photography because it invites us to remove thought from our actions in relation to the image, launching us on a philosophical exercise that engages with the experience of our digital life. If photography developed in a particular context of thought and sensibility (involving techno-scientific culture, positivism, industrialization, and so on), what is the framework in which post-photography is germinating today? This is not an easy question to answer because what is truly revolutionary never appears on a list of predictions. Niels Bohr, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922, made the point with a touch of sarcasm: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Let’s content ourselves with what we have closest at hand and focus on what is most crucial. As previously mentioned, post-photography is not a style, movement or historical period. It is of interest here due primarily to the opportunity that it offers us to clarify what photography is, and who we are, today. In other words, it offers us an opportunity to re-examine photography and re-analyze our nature as subjects. Can post-photography serve as a compass to guide us through this labyrinth?
Images that yawn (Imagezzzzzz) Let’s consider the following case study. In 2011, the British wildlife photographer, David Slater, was on the island of Sulawesi reporting on a group of crested black macaques (Macaca nigra). Slater recounted that at a particular moment one of the female adults came right up to the camera, apparently drawn to her own reflection in the lens. She then began to manipulate the camera and happened to press the shutter release. This happy accident produced several self-portraits, which fascinated Slater. The first selfie ever taken by a monkey subsequently appeared on many newspaper front pages, and went viral on the Internet. The images were so popular that Wikipedia decided to use one to illustrate its “Celebes crested macaque” entry. Slater was unhappy with this unauthorized use and demanded that it be withdrawn, but Wikipedia argued that this was a photograph taken by an animal, and therefore belonged to the public domain. The dispute went to court. In August 2014, the U.S. Copyright Office handed down a juicy 1,222-page ruling that explicitly excluded the possibility of assigning copyright to any work created by “nature, animals, plants, or divine or supernatural beings.” In other words, neither nature, nor God, nor ghosts are entitled to claim copyright, which is reserved for works created by humans. Behind this story is a debate on the connections among authorship, creation, and the human condition. Let’s rewind. To begin with, the picture’s exceptional interest depends on our accepting Slater’s account of what happened – namely, that the photo was taken by the monkey.5 We would all agree that if it were simply a shot taken by a photographer, the intriguing issue of authorship would disappear – along with our interest. Note, then, that in this story the two most striking facts are also the most contingent. The first is that the shutter was clicked by a macaque. The camera could have been triggered by any chance blow, or even have been set off unintentionally by someone other than Slater. Theoretically, what matters is the absence of intention. The second fact is that the U.S. Copyright Office ruling presents only the application of rules valid for a particular time and place. Under U.K. legislation, for example, the case would have been resolved differently, because the country’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 gives photographers the right to an image if it is the
David Sl at er’s m onkey sel fie p hot oshoot 2011
This account could be an invention, but the fact is that Slater is now a prisoner of his story.
A NEW VISUAL ORDER — J oan Fo n tc u b e rta The Muhammad cartoons controversy in Denmark in 2005 and the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in Paris in 2015 demonstrate how the power of images can become a casus belli. The history of images also constitutes the history of thought and actions induced by thought. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the malleable and constantly mutating nature of images to be decoded in philosophy, theory, and art. In this context, the Divine Violence project (2013) by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin may be seen as exemplary. Passages from the Bible are illustrated with photographs from the enormously diverse Archive of Modern Conflict collection, both revealing the ideological dimension of the graphic “documents” and allowing the images to explain how force and coercion have always been the means by which religion and political power are imposed. Gottfried Boehm, Was ist ein Bild? (Munich: Fink, 1994); and W. J. T. Mitchell, Picture Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).
Writers such as Gottfried Boehm in Europe and W. J. T. Mitchell in the United States were among the first to make in-depth explorations of what constitutes an image.1 In the 1990s, they laid the foundations for the field of visual studies, popularizing the “pictorial turn” (Mitchell) or “iconic turn” (Boehm), which associates the shift in the visual paradigm with contemporary social and technological changes. This turn was a direct result not so much of the proliferation of images and the attention devoted to them, as of the priority given to defining a cultural study focused on a reality crystallized in images. So, where are we now, twenty years later? Do images still have the same meaning, or must we adjust our interpretations? We are obviously immersed in a very different new visual order, which is characterized by three factors: the immateriality and transmissibility of images, their profusion and availability, and their decisive contribution to the encyclopedization of knowledge and communication.
Owen Kydd’s Durational Photographs (started in 2006) engages with the first factor, immateriality, in addition to framing an intelligent dialectic between “window” and “screen.” The condition of the image that exists on the screen has to do precisely with the rootlessness of postphotography, with its need to be embodied on borrowed supports. This borrowed existence exposes the error of categorizing images with labels that digital technology has rendered obsolete. The boundaries of photography, video, and digital creation, with their multiple effects, have been lost, plunging us into a confusion of languages and processes. Such obsolescence betrays a Darwinian casuistry, in the sense that the theory of evolution is applied to modes of visual representation. However, in Mémoires (2015), Roberto Pellegrinuzzi draws our attention to another type of obsolescence, which affects what we might call the image’s metabolism. Addressing the hyperbolic claim that images are now infinite, Pellegrinuzzi points out that post-Fordist capitalism has already made sure to limit production by building planned obsolescence into digital camera sensors to give them a lifetime of about a quarter of a million shots. When that limit is reached, sensors stop working and cameras become useless. Once upon a time, the photography business was based on the developing of film and printing of copies, and film cameras were made to last almost forever. With the digital camera, no prints are needed and the (immaterial) photos are consumed on screens, shifting the core business to the sale of cameras. As a challenge to the perverse logic of capitalist profit, Pellegrinuzzi exhausts the productive potential of a CCD sensor and envelops us in the cloud composed of all the photos that he has made: an astonishing – but finite – quantity of images.
The idea of the vertiginous flow of images is pedagogically illustrated in The World as Will and Representation – Archives 2007 (2007) by Roy Arden, and I’m Google (started in 2011) by Dina Kelberman. Arden’s work reflects the fascination with the Ali Baba’s Cave that the Internet has become for seekers of image-treasure, and is basically a paean to the extraordinary diversity of human manifestations. When NASA launched the Voyager 1 space probe, in 1977, it included a gold-plated record containing not only sound recordings but also a set of 116 photographs, intended to explain the diversity of life and human society on Earth to potentially intelligent extraterrestrial life forms. No doubt, today’s aliens would have a greater appreciation of Arden’s work. In any case, his compilation goes beyond being a narrative nexus privileging arbitrariness and chaos, the enormity of the number of images, and the ease of access to them. On the other hand, I’m Google focuses on the idea of endless flow – a flow in which the images are sequenced on the basis of morphological affinity, like the children’s game in which each new sentence has to begin with the last word of the preceding sentence. Instalment by instalment, from one found photo to the next, Kelberman’s project also seems to be calling to muster all the things in the world. Here, however, the contents are ordered not by concept but by geometric continuity, colour, texture, or other formal value. Similar premises underpin the complex video installations by Paul Wong, in which projections combine photos taken from surveillance cameras or smartphones, generating sequences with unpredictable poetics.
Erik Kessels and Joachim Schmid also belong to the species of artists who collect and reorder. Rather than visual predators, they are activists of an ecology that advocates not only the recycling of images but also a reappraisal of the prosaic and the marginal. Both are supremely “adoptive” – rather than appropriationist – artists, Kessels inclining toward the vernacular, and Schmid towards the lumpen. Kessels, the successful treasure hunter, follows the intuition of his sense of smell to recognize the potential of images taken out of context, and is notable for his flashes of epiphanic discovery. Schmid applies a more systematic methodology with which he seems at once to pay homage to and ironize over Aby Warburg’s Mmemosyne Atlas (1924–29). By way of his own iconographic inventories drawn from the Internet, with their absurd classifications and deranged taxonomies, he offers one more way of presenting the post-photographic heritage. Ultimately, both artists accomplish two objectives: a critical review of photography’s historiographic models, and an exemplification of the urge to anthologize that exists in digital culture.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are best known for their critical examination of the way we imagine conflict and violence: their work unravels the skein of uses and contexts of the image, and they reveal that neither are technologies of repre-sentation neutral nor are archives innocent. In 2011, Broomberg and Chanarin visited the Bertolt Brecht Archiv in Berlin, where they found a copy of the Bible in which Brecht had inserted images and annotations. This discovery was the basis for the exhibition project Divine Violence (2013) and the acclaimed art book Holy Bible (2013), in which passages of sacred history are interspersed with evocative images extracted from the millions of documents in the Archive of Modern Conflict. Each work consists of consecutive pages of a Bible chapter with underlined paragraphs and pastedin photographs of war, genocide, destruction, and catastrophe, alongside other seemingly unrelated photographs of sex and leisure activities. This forced marriage, the intrusion of alien images into the text, exposes the supposedly neutral chronicle of the interactions between God and his Chosen People and shows – as Israeli philosopher Adi Ophir (another inspiration for the artists) affirms – that the power structures of modern systems of governance seem to derive from the fateful framework of the Old Testament. To the beat of this Brechtian methodology, Broomberg and Chanarin summon the images to take on new meaning, transcending the forensic status of the photographs to transform them into the vigilant sentinels of ghosts and crimes.
ADAM BROOMBERG & OLIVER CHANARIN Divine Violence, 2013
^ And it came to pass – Genesis 14:1, Holy Bible Published by MACK / Archive of Modern Conflict, London, 2013 Song of Songs, Divine Violence 2013
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Chronicles 1 & 2, Divine Violence (detail) 2013 P — 23, L > R
Matthew, Divine Violence 2013 Genesis, Divine Violence 2013 P — 24
Samuel 1 & 2, Divine Violence 2013 P — 25
Revelations, Divine Violence 2013
Put a camera on a tripod in front of a static subject. Take a shot. Then switch the system to video mode and record a short sequence in high definition. In terms of perception, the results are almost identical. In ontological terms, they explicitly show two conflicting ways of representing temporality. In the still photograph, a fragment of the subject’s life has been captured, corresponding to the length of the exposure (the time the shutter has been left open). In the video, time is presented in a continuous fashion. The photograph is a slice in time, the video an unfolding sequence. As various emblematic exhibitions have demonstrated (for instance, Passages de l’image, curated by Raymond Bellour, Catherine David, and Christine van Assche for the Centre Pompidou in 1990), digital technology dissolves the boundaries between the different categories of image. Owen Kydd touches a sensitive chord with his Durational Photographs (started in 2006) – photographs that lessen the gap between the static image and kinematic lapse. Only the inclusion of very slight movements reveals the videographic nature of the images, which, furthermore, have been edited to form a continuous loop, with no beginning or end, evoking the circularity attributed to time in so many cosmologies. Durational Photographs constitutes a subtle hybridization between minimalist film – the degree zero of cinematographic writing – and animated photography, which employs the stop-motion effect or three-frame GIF animation. In addition, given that both temporality and death have been essential components in every attempt to develop a theory of photography, the still life (nature morte) has paradoxically been made alive again.
Owen Kydd Durational Photographs (2006 – ) Canvas, Leaves, Torso, Lantern (installation view and detail) 2011
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Retail Composition #1 (detail) 2012 P — 29
Blue Wall Three Parts (detail) 2013
Straddling aesthetic resolution and conceptual reflection, Roberto Pellegrinuzzi has been so thoroughly devoted to questioning the photographic mechanism and the sign that it is difficult to say whether he is a photographer who makes use of semiotics or a semiotician who makes use of a camera. In Mémoires (2015), he once again plays with such paradoxes. Borges recounts that Chuang Tzu dreamt he was a butterfly. When he awoke, he did not know if it was he himself, Tzu, who had dreamt that he was a butterfly, or if a butterfly had dreamt that it was Tzu.1 Do we, in fact, produce images, or do images produce us? Viewers ask themselves the same questions upon becoming acquainted with Pelleginuzzi’s installation, whose cloud shape illustrates the idea of limits and boundaries. In order to create his work, Pellegrinuzzi fused himself to his camera for approximately one year, compulsively shooting images of everything happening around him. In total, he managed to take more than a quarter of a million photographs, a maelstrom that came to an end only when the light-sensitive area of the camera’s CCD sensor stopped working and he could no longer take pictures. Then, with the resulting small-format prints, Pellegrinuzzi assembled a kind of nebula structure, in which he invites the public to immerse itself. The cloud in this context not only refers to cloud computing, but is also a metaphor for neural structures. As Stanislaw Lem suggests for the ocean in his novel Solaris, Pellegrinuzzi suggests that the “ocean” of images that he has created may also contain “life,” “consciousness,” and “will” . . . and that we should therefore be preparing ourselves for these new types of metaphysical interactions.
Jose Luis Borges, “A New Refutation of Time,” in Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings, trans. James E. Irby (New York: New Directions, 1962), 217–34.
ROBERTO PELLEGRINUZZI Mémoires, 2015 Photographic installation, 280,000 digital prints mounted on nylon thread
^ Sketch of installation and details
Beyond the realms of chemistry, Dina Kelberman has invented a particular type of chain reaction, as evidenced in her online project I’m Google (started in 2011): images call to other images in a sequence governed by morphological and semantic affinities that generate a gradual, relentless, never-ending flow. The nineteenth century brought the compulsive need to stockpile images as a way to control the world – a need attested to by the albums of criminologists such as Alphonse Bertillon and Cesare Lombroso. In the twentieth century, an attempt to understand culture and human experience was added to this compilation obsession, which has been evoked, for instance, in Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas (1924– 29) and Gerhard Richter’s Atlas Micromega (1962– 2013), and – elsewhere on the spectrum – through Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project (1927–40) and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror (1975). This continuous thread of dialectical images – that is, images engaged in a dialogue with other images – leads us to Kelberman in the twenty-first century. Beyond speaking, it is a matter of showing: the underlying discourse lies in the infinity of images. Viewers have sometimes wrongly assumed that I’m Google simply operates with an automated program, “a bot set free on Google Image Search and directed to Tumblr, rather than the selective record of countless hours of looking and sifting. . . . Kelberman’s work exploits a strain in Internet art” that, according to Teju Cole, “challenges the viewer to assume it was made by a bot, not an artist: a kind of reverse Turing test.”1
Teju Cole, “The Atlas of Affect,” The New Inquiry, July 7, 2014, accessed July 29, 2015, http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/dtake/ the-atlas-of-affect/.
DINA KELBERMAN I’m Google (2011 – ) Tumblr blog of found images and videos Details
› P — 38–39
As a graphic designer, advertising manager, editor, collector, exhibition curator, and artist, Erik Kessels exemplifies the versatile creator of the digital age who engages in the full range of creative activities. In his projects, Kessels pays close attention to the most popular or trivial forms of photography, such as family albums, pornography ads, and commercial documentation, which would normally be rejected by canon-defining museums and institutions. Taking advantage of the extraordinary abundance and availability of images today, Kessels sifts and recycles cast-off materials, like a waste-picker in search of overlooked treasures. The photographs thus recovered, displaced from their original function in a Duchampian gesture, reveal, through their new mise en valeur, an unexpected aesthetic and programmatic background that points toward an ecology of the image. The installation All Yours (2015) is based on Kessels’s books and collections, such as in almost every picture, Useful Photography, Album Beauty, Mother Nature, Models, ME TV, Photo Cubes, Unfinished Father, and Bombay Beauties, and on more recently collected, previously unpublished materials. The first two of the published works, both commenced in 2001, are the most ambitious. In almost every picture (2001–15) is a long-running photography book series that focuses on storytelling with vernacular photography. Useful Photography (started in 2001) is a monographic magazine focusing on overlooked and underwhelming images taken for practical purposes. The photographs in this magazine are collected and edited by Hans Aarsman, Hans van der Meer, Julian Germain, and Kessels himself.
ERIK KESSELS All Yours, 2015 Photographic installation, postcardsized images from the series in almost every picture From in almost every picture #11 2013 Sketch of installation
› T >B P — 46
From in almost every picture #9 2011 P — 47
From in almost every picture #7 2009 P — 48–49 From in almost every picture #14 2015
New Medium, New Consciousness Post-photography’s “Mind” and Post-human Ecology 1 — Dav i d To m as This article develops some propositions concerning a post-photographic practice that were first published in David Tomas, “From the Photograph to Postphotographic Practice: Toward a Postoptical Ecology of the Eye,” SubStance 55 (1988), 59–68; and “From a Relational History of Media to a Networkand Interval-Based Theory of Photographic Communication,” in Thinking Photography – Using Photography, ed. Jan-Erik Lundström and Liv Stoltz (Stockholm: Centrum för Fotografi/Centre for Photography, 2012), 72–96.
See, for example, William J. Mitchell’s definition in The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), 19.
Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1918), 494. See also Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: Trains and Travel in the 19th Century (New York: Urizen/ Oxford: Basil Blackwell,  1980) for an excellent overview of the impact of railway travel on the preindustrial ecology of the human senses.
What is post-photography? One of the basic problems in answering this simple question is the fact that photography is constantly treated as an autonomous medium and mode of production. Not only is it understood to operate differently from other semi-automatic modes of image production (printmaking, for example), but it produces kinds of images that are radically different from those produced by printmaking, drawing, and painting (to take examples of media that were current in 1839, the year when photography was first exhibited in public). The autonomy of the medium leads to a history of the discipline – widely known as the “history of photography” – which includes certain sub-disciplinary histories such as that of cameras, lenses, and so on. In contrast, postphotography is a term that has most often been associated with the “digital turn” of photography, which also conserves an appearance of disciplinary autonomy.2 Since photography has been treated as an autonomous technical invention, the implicit answer to the question of its cultural identity and function has always been determined by this essentialist model. But photography is not an isolated technology, and its history cannot be constructed independently without doing violence to its historical and present conditions of technosocial existence. If we return to the early nineteenth century and contextualize photography within a larger history of technology, we find that it emerged in tandem with a number of important inventions – in particular, a trilogy that revolutionized transportation and communications. These inventions were the steam locomotive, the steamship, and the electric telegraph. As the American historian Henry Adams acknowledged in 1904, he had seen four impossibilities in his lifetime: the ocean steamer, the railroad, electric telegraph, and the Daguerreotype.3 I If photography emerged at the same time as the appearance and consolidation of the electric telegraph and its transmission system, the railway locomotive and its railway system, and the
steamship and its navigational routes [FIG. 1], then it makes historical and theoretical sense to investigate its relationship with these other powerful and revolutionary technologies. Perhaps it is not possible to treat photography in isolation; on the contrary, it must be treated relationally. Today the traditional silver halide photograph and its offshoots coexist with the digital image, whose medium of transportation includes its various platforms – among others, the Internet, computers, mobile phones, and tablets. Note the position of the mechanical computer in the schema in [FIG. 2]. Although they are not normally associated with other major nineteenth-century inventions because of their specialized and uncompleted nature, Charles Babbage’s mechanical computing engines were clearly designed to facilitate the movement of elementary forms of information with a mechanical infrastructure that mimicked a process of mathematical calculation moving from one place (input) to another (output). Today, that mechanical infrastructure has been replaced by an electronic one. All of these telecommunications platforms for image transmission coexist with contemporary railway networks of various kinds (above-ground and underground), the global air travel network, and various forms of motorized terrestrial and maritime travel; these systems are designed to transport human beings, their material culture, and the raw material that they use to produce that culture, and to nourish and stimulate their ideas, imagination, and dreams. Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, the development and commercialization of the Internet has created a new global digital environment through which information and data (including images) circulate, with computers, cellphones, tablets, and other input/output devices serving as the interface between the Internet and the human organism. These methods of transmission and communications, and their infrastructures, would not exist if the human organism did not exist to invent them and tailor their form to its form.
PREMODERN SYSTEM / NETWORK OF TRANSPORTATION-COMMUNICATIONS HUMAN, ANIMAL, AND GEOGRAPHICALLY CONSTRAINED MODES OF TRAVEL ROAD NETWORK
MODERN CP SCIENCE- TECHNOLOGY- AND MACHINE-BASED SYSTEM / NETWORKS OF TRANSPORTATION-COMMUNICATIONS CIRCA 1839
CSP RAILWAY NETWORK
OPENING OF THE STOCKTON AND DARLINGTON RAILWAY, SEPTEMBER 1825
FIRST PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF THE DAGUERREOTYPE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESS JANUARY 1839
RAINHILL TRIALS, OCTOBER 1827
CSP STEAM NAVIGATION NETWORK
CSP ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH NETWORK FIRST ELECTRICAL TRANSMISSION OF SIGNALS BETWEEN TWO (TELEGRAPH) MACHINES 1816
FIRST OCEAN-GOING STEAMSHIP CONSTRUCTED IN 1813 LAUNCH OF THE SS GREAT BRITAIN, THE FIRST STEAMSHIP TO CONDUCT SCHEDULED TRANSATLANTIC VOYAGES, JULY 1837
Emergence of a modern network of transportation-communications in the first half of the nineteenth century. The network can be understood to function as a proto-cybernetic transportation and communications program (CP) of which photography is just a subprogram (CSP).
PREMODERN SYSTEM / NETWORK OF TRANSPORTATION-COMMUNICATIONS HUMAN, ANIMAL, AND GEOGRAPHICALLY CONSTRAINED MODES OF TRAVEL ROAD NETWORK
MODERN CP SCIENCE- TECHNOLOGY- AND MACHINE-BASED SYSTEM/NETWORKS OF TRANSPORTATION-COMMUNICATIONS
Created using Inspiration速 9 International English Edition by Inspiration Software速, Inc.
CSP RAILWAY NETWORK
CSP ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH NETWORK
CSP STEAM NAVIGATION NETWORK
OPENING OF THE STOCKTON AND DARLINGTON RAILWAY, SEPTEMBER 1825
FIRST PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF THE DAGUERREOTYPE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESS JANUARY 1839
FIRST ELECTRICAL TRANSMISSION OF SIGNALS BETWEEN TWO (TELEGRAPH) MACHINES 1816
FIRST OCEAN-GOING STEAMSHIP CONSTRUCTED IN 1813
RAINHILL TRIALS, OCTOBER 1827
MOTION PICTURE CAMERA AND PROJECTION APPARATUS PATENT 1888
DIGITAL IMAGE BARTLANE CABLE PICTURE TRANSMISSION SYSTEM 1920
CHARGE-COUPLED DEVICE (CCD) INVENTED 1969
FIRST ELECTRONIC CAMERA USING A CHARGE-COUPLED DEVICE (CCD) IMAGE SENSOR 1975
LAUNCH OF THE SS GREAT BRITAIN , THE FIRST STEAMSHIP TO CONDUCT SCHEDULED TRANSATLANTIC VOYAGES, JULY 1837
MECHANICAL COMPUTING MACHINE CHARLES BABBAGE'S WORK ON HIS DIFFERENCE AND ANALYTICAL ENGINES 1822-71
FIRST ELECTRONIC GENERAL PURPOSE COMPUTER (ENIAC) 1946
TELEPHONE ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL PATENT 1876
TELSTAR 1 COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE LAUNCHED JULY 1962
FIRST COMMERCIAL DESKTOP PERSONAL COMPUTER PROGRAMMA 101 1965
FIRST TELEPHONE CALLS, TELEVISION AND LIVE TELEVISION IMAGES, AND FAXES TRANSMITTED
THE INAUGURATION OF THE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY NETWORK (ARPANET) OCTOBER 1969
COMMERCIALIZATION OF THE INTERNET EMERGENCE OF COMMERCIAL INTERNET SERVICES PROVIDERS (ISPs ) LATE 1980s
LATE-TWENTIETH-CENTURY DIGITAL NETWORKS OF TRANSPORTATION / COMMUNICATIONS CABLE TRANSMISSION NETWORKS RADIO TRANSMISSION NETWORKS
Developmental matrix of selected late-twentieth-century Created using Inspiration速 9 International English Edition by Inspiration Software速, Inc.digital transportation and communications networks
NEWTON MESSAGE PAD 100 1993
MOBILE PHONE DEMONSTRATED 1973 COMMERCIAL AVAILABILITY 1983
AUGMENTED PHOTOGRAPHY — Der r i c k de K e r c k hov e
Gerard Holzmann, Beyond Photography: The Digital Darkroom (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988). This book describes an early digital image-editing system that was developed at Bell Labs in 1984 by Gerard Holzmann, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson. In a preface, written in 2003, to the online version of the book (http://spinroot.com/pico/), Holzmann concludes with this now-verified prediction: “. . . conventional photography, practiced with chemicals in dark rooms, will be history, likely to be practiced only as a curiosity by a few die-hard fans.”
Why “post-”photography? Is the digital photograph not “written with light”? There is a difference, however, between the role of light in the act of inscribing, as in analog photography, and its role in executing the commands of digital code. In the analog mode, light lands on a prepared surface and leaves its impression. In the digital mode, light is translated into numbers meant to display it back into light. What happens in between is a sampling of light, just as a digital recording is a sampling of sound. The light is simulated, not reproduced. Pushing the notion of post-photography to its conclusion, I would suggest “post-graphy,” because it is the act of fixing (grafein: engraving, embedding) that disappears in digital photography. Digital photography is not just presented; it is evoked, like a thought. The best use of “post-photography” is, perhaps, to maintain the concept and the artistic status of the still in an era when it has become less relevant to separate it from video and multimedia. The question is, What are the new opportunities offered to conventional photography by digital media? The basic technological advantages of photographic art going digital are huge, as the digital environment gives everyone access to topquality definition and digital manipulation. Picking up the expression from Gerard Holzmann in Beyond Photography,1 an influential book first published in 1988, Martin Irvine terms these new opportunities the “digital darkroom.” Furthermore, thanks to the penetrating power of digital instruments, nothing can hide from photography: new realms, unreached before – thermic space, outer space, inner space (of the body and materials), and the Big Bang, for instance – are all available to digital photography. 3D is becoming routine, and pixel art is part and parcel of standard advertising practices. Anything that is photosensitive or sensitive to any form of pressure that can be objectively recorded, even at the lowest levels, is material for photography, be it holography, nanophotography, or night photography.
This fact alone greatly expands the reach of our “augmented visuality.” The visual field itself is infinitely expanded. In almost real time, we have access to a bewildering quantity of images, but in a proper and searchable order. For example, searching for a photograph via Goggle is like remembering a face. It is almost as fast and almost as accurate. Space, time, and self, the main parameters of our lives, have been dramatically affected by the digital condition. Each of us occupies the central position in a universe of data, connections, and relationships. But, at the same time, each of us is a node connected to ever-larger numbers of other nodes. Thanks to the Internet and the digitization of human transactions, we must now occupy and learn to manage three different spaces – physical, mental, and virtual – all of them connected but functionally (if not structurally) independent. Virtual space is the newcomer; it affects both our identity and our social position. And photography is playing a dominant role in this evolution. Photographs, by being virtually available to take or to view at a click, are evolving from being experienced frontally to being an immersive, total-surround situation. By introducing perspective, the Renaissance removed the spectator from the spectacle in painting, architecture, and theatre; in the digital era, the user’s position has been reversed, as the digital condition is projecting the user back to centre stage. Virtual reality has reintroduced the spectator into the spectacle, perhaps to let us know that henceforth we will always be in the middle of everything. At the same time, we exude an electronic aura of our tastes and predilections in our profiles on the Web (see Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico’s Face to Facebook). Real-time photography (video, CCTV, Skype, or drones) extends the visual space that we occupy. These media are our peepholes on the world. Marshall McLuhan’s chapter on photography in his book Understanding Media is appropriately
titled “The Photograph: The Brothel-withoutWalls.”2 Although there is no denying that photography, almost as soon as it was invented, wasused for pornography and that Internet is rife with it, McLuhan probably meant, rather, that photography in itself, as a medium, had turned us all into voyeurs much more than painting ever did, because of its direct relationship with the “real world.” Photography, in McLuhan’s view, had exaggerated the Cartesian drive toward fragmentation in the West. Photography cuts the world into pieces. Turning back to the issue of pornography, McLuhan added that reducing a woman to a set of images of body parts is the signature of the sensorial fragmentation brought on by literacy. In this chapter, McLuhan observes another critical aspect of photography, that it is an “all-at-once” experience: Syntax, the net of rationality, disappeared from the later prints, just as it tended to disappear from the telegraph message and from the impressionist painting. Finally, in the pointillisme of Seurat, the world suddenly appeared through the painting. The direction of a syntactical point of view from outside onto the painting ended as literary form dwindled into headlines with the telegraph. With the photograph, in the same way, men had discovered how to make visual reports without syntax.3
Of course, there is syntax in the planning of a good photograph. The eye catches relationships and patterns, and this constitutes syntax. But what McLuhan most likely meant was that the still shot is a sort of all-at-once narrative – one that can be read at a glance. Thanks to the immediacy of digital photographs, we are now exposed to everything through images far more than through words. We simply would not read for long enough to get the amount of information that we can obtain instantly from a picture. Not only are images understood instantly, but they stay with us a long time, even if we have seen them just once.
The power of traditional photographs is that eachone is a kind of edit of the world. With analog photography we became editors of our own lives, much as photography has helped to “edit” us. With digital photography, the editing process yields to a kind of modulation. Stepwise recording and displaying yield to morphing and fluidity. Photographs, even as stills, appear to us on screens many more times than on paper. The digital visual culture is framed by screens. We now spend more waking hours looking at screens than looking at the rest of the world. As was illustrated by Second Life (the once-celebrated albeit out-of-fashion 3D online virtual world) we tend to negotiate most of our life through one screen or another. Hence, there is an unquenchable thirst for ever-higher definition, everdarker contrasts, ever-finer sampling, ever-faster movements, ever-smoother substitutions, and other improvements. All photography, analog or digital, is endowed with the status of a tool capable of providing objective reporting on the world out there. The superb computer-assisted photograms of the world’s city lights at night4 are made by recalculating and seamlessly juxtaposing a succession of moments recorded by satellite during the westward progress of nightfall on the planet. In fact, they are stills of time as well as of space. Whether based on statistical analysis, as in Poodwaddle World Clock,5 or on a continuous computer recombination, what the photogram shows is grounded on information that is “real” in that it is not dependent on interpretation or on the instrument used for recording it. “I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it.” — H. M. McLuhan Although we swim in an ocean of images, we cannot trust them as much as we did once upon a time, when we believed that they were reality itself. On this much-disputed epistemological quandary, Gerhard Richter provides a valuable
Marshall McLuhan, “The Photograph: The Brothel-without-Walls,” in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,  1994), 188–202. Online chapter, accessed November 16, 2014, http://www.sfu.ca/medialab/426/readings/thephoto. htm.
“‘World at Night’ using ggplot2,” James Cheshire’s blog Spatial.ly, June 7, 2012, accessed November 16, 2014, http://spatialanalysis.co.uk/ wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ world_night.jpg.
“World Clock V4.1,” Poodwaddle.com, accessed November 16, 2014, http:// www.poodwaddle.com/Stats.
Joachim Sauter and Dirk Lüsebrink, Zerseher 1991
Martin Irvine, “Richter: Seminar Notes,” Communication, Culture & Technology Program, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.), accessed November 16, 2014, http:// faculty.georgetown.edu/ irvinem/visualarts/Richter.html.
“Augmented Photography,” Varvara Guljajeva’s blog Media art projects in progress and the development process, accessed November 16, 2014, http://varvarag.wordpress.com/ interactive-photography/.
precision (as reported by Martin Irvine): “Photographs [are] the contemporary index of image and ‘reality’ or world outside the image. Photos [are] already at distance from experienced reality; paintings of photos cancel the photo as index of reality.”6 Hence, any manipulation, digital or other, cancels the reality effect of the photograph. Because digital images exude extreme realism and can be manipulated so easily, they become the same, in effect, as paintings. Images tend to take on the status of artefact of consciousness rather than that of objective record. But the good news is that our visual system, albeit always framed by a screen, is adopting new palettes and new powers. It is adopting a new critical stance as well. We often hear the term “eye candy” being used as a damning put-down of facile computer graphics or videos.
Art on the Smartphone: We Are All Paparazzi Thanks to the Internet, distribution of photographs is instantaneous, ubiquitous, and controlled. By streaming or downloading, through access to the Cloud or Google, millions ogle images at a moment’s notice. Improved equipment and access to the world’s best – and worst – photographs may have value in favouring new directions for research, documentation, and photographic art and in developing taste or creativity in more people. But an aesthetic question arises from this condition of ubiquitous artistic playground. Anyone can declare himself or herself a photographer. The status of art can be claimed for any photograph, depending on the context of its presentation. What rules could help critics decide what is a “good” digital photographic work?
Surely, critics could turn to the many photographers who were pioneers in exploring the artistic opportunities offered by digital processes. Works by artists such as Bill Viola, Michael Snow, Jeff Wall, and Cindy Sherman have become classics, and many others have pushed the envelope to create interactive installations that make photographs the object of the interaction and a central element in the artistic experience (as often illustrated in Viola’s installations). Varvara Guljajeva is sometimes credited with having introduced the concept of “interactive photography,” a suitable candidate for supplementing “post-photography.”7 However, because digital photography is not always interactive, I prefer the term “augmented photography.” McLuhan observed that any medium that has been overtaken or surrounded by another, more effective medium turns the predecessor into an art form. In the context of augmented photo-graphy, it may be helpful to evaluate installations by artists who have used digital photography in interactive contexts. A radical expression of pictorial criticism is found in one of the earliest pieces by Joachim Sauter and Dirk Lüsebrink, of ART+COM in Berlin. Zerseher (1991) is a digital photograph of a popular seventeenth-century painting of a little girl grinning as she holds up her child-like but amusing drawing [FIG. 1]. A hidden eye-tracking camera, the kind that is used to track your gaze, follows your eyes as you look at the piece. Everywhere you look, you destroy the painting, turning it into a mess of pixels. The work underscores the power of the spectator even as he or she looks half-consciously at the painting. It also gives a new power to the eye, that of commanding the reality out there.
real camera. Everywhere they click, they blank out the area they have pointed at, creating a symbolic hole in the technological memory. These elements of the scene are still recognizable in shadowy white, reinforcing the reference to memory by evoking a gradual erasure.
Christian Moeller Electronic Mirror 1993
Christian Moeller’s Electronic Mirror (1993) plays an amusing trick on the spectator [FIG. 2]. As you enter, you see a large framed mirror across the room. It seems to be a real mirror because you can observe that it accurately reflects you and the objects in front and around it depending on your angle of vision. As you approach it to get a better view of yourself, however, your own image – and everything else – disappears from the reflection. The effect is startling and stimulates epistemological and philosophical reflections in lieu of the physical reflection. At a very deep level, it prefigures the disappearance of our private identity, even as we pour our most valuable faculties and most intimate gestures out into the screen and to networks. Mirror, mirror, on what wall? Maurice Benayoun’s photographic safari makes an epistemological comment on the role of photography in our lives, which is to remove the memory of things from our mind and make them available solely via a recording technology. It is also a comment on the desensitizing effect of even upsetting photographs, such as those of war and violence. The installation World Skin (1997) consists of a CAVE (computer-assisted virtual environment) in which users are provided with mock cameras [FIG. 3]. They are invited to point and click anywhere in a total surround war zone situation, just as they would with a
In Tamas Waliczky’s Landscape (1997), time is treated in a clever – and moving – reversal of figure–ground relationship. The story is that of a composer condemned to be executed by a firing squad for having opposed the regime. As he awaits the fatal moment, attached to the execution pillar, he prays to have the time to finish his latest and most cherished composition. To answer his prayer, time stops cold and everything, including the bullets (just as in The Matrix ) and the snowflakes, are stilled in the air. At the same moment, the prisoner’s bonds are loosened so that he can remove himself from the shackles and slip under the immobile bullets to get back to his studio and finish his work. When that is done, he is compelled to return to his previous position, at which point time recommences and the bullets reach their target. By freezing the ground of everything, Waliczky provokes a reversal of the relationship between time and space, which are stilled to confer pure autonomy on the person. As we look at the figure of the prisoner detached from the ground of the spacetime continuum, we are freed, you and I, from
Maurice Benayoun World Skin 1997
Parsing the Revolution — F r e d R i tc h i n Once unmoored from some of photography’s underlying assumptions – “the camera never lies” being a particularly detrimental one – the postphotographic era brings with it an extraordinarily rich set of strategies for image, so far largely unexplored. Simultaneously, this new era brings with it a potential for growing chaos in which wilful illusion and obsessive self-interest disallow the inconvenient truths conveyed by photographic verisimilitude, leaving society without viable reference points in facing both contemporary dilemmas and a problematic future. In 1990, I published a book titled In Our Own Image: The Coming Revolution in Photography.1 It was written just before Photoshop was introduced, when only sizeable companies were able to afford both the expensive digital imaging systems and the technicians to operate them in order to manipulate photographs on the computer screen. Now, of course, the software is readily available, and quick, efficient, often undetectable image manipulation is commonplace – and for many it is indispensable. Fred Ritchin, In Our Own Image: The Coming Revolution in Photography, 3rd ed. (New York: Aperture,  2010).
Fred Ritchin, “Photography’s New Bag of Tricks,” New York Times Magazine, November 4, 1984, accessed February 1, 2015, http://www.nytimes. com/1984/11/04/magazine/ photography-s-new-bag-oftricks.html.
Gilles Peress, “Bosnia: Uncertain Paths to Peace,” New York Times on the Web, 1996. No longer online.
A large part of my intention in writing the book, and an article in the New York Times Magazine six years before,2 was to warn those who valued the role of the photograph as a recording medium – what Susan Sontag called a “footprint” – that the widespread adoption of unregulated image software would leave people increasingly disconnected from what might be happening elsewhere. Where as photography had always been interpretive, never representing an absolute truth (although it could express truths), it would soon be transformed into a considerably more malleable, synthetic medium, not unlike painting, expressing personal truths with scenes reassembled according to how each author wanted them to look. Even photographs that had not been significantly manipulated would be difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate from those that had been composited or extensively retouched – an ambiguous relationship with the real, resembling that represented by Schrödinger’s cat, perceived to be in two states at once, neither alive nor dead.
As a result, viewers of such imagery could inhabit a sort of cocoon, conveniently shielded from problems elsewhere, since one could never be sure of the photograph’s provenance. No one would have to feel compelled to rally around an iconic photograph of a young girl burning from napalm, or civil rights protestors menaced by police dogs, or Earth as seen from outer space; images would lose their moral suasion. The specificity of any particular photograph would be muted, its signifiers instead referencing other images; compare, for example, the absence of iconic photographs helping to define the war in Afghanistan, the longest war fought by the United States, as opposed to the riveting photographs that made visible some of the enormous issues at stake during the Vietnam War. Of course, there have always been many reasons to be skeptical of photography – it has always represented a point of view, required appropriate contextualization, and was understood in various ways by different individuals and cultures; its meanings could be easily skewed by how the image was placed on a page or screen. But photographs, particularly the documentary kind, did tend to serve as a quotation from appearances: whatever was depicted within the frame was assumed to have been visible for at least that fraction of a second. And, most helpfully, the details recorded by a lens-based photograph might tell the viewer many things about a situation that the photographer neither intended to articulate nor was in his or her control – the camera provided its own perspective. As photographer Gilles Peress once put it, the photograph is the result of several authors working in collaboration, including the photographer, the subjects, the readers, and the camera itself.3 In the last several decades, post-modern artists worked hard to deconstruct the artifice in the photographic process, making it possible to more clearly see photography as a representational medium maintaining only an uneasy relationship with larger, more transcendent truths. They did so by strategies that included claiming authorship of photographs
made by others, by playing fictive roles but setting the images up to look as if they were documentary, and by exposing how the presence of media influenced actual events. As one of the most visceral and authentic-seeming of media, photography needed to be unmasked so that it would be less seductive. And now that we are producing close to a trillion images per year, often with little intentionality or search for meaning, the perceived authenticity of the photograph has been successfully devalued – a boon for subjectivity and playfulness, if not for the medium’s authority. Opinion is allowed, even encouraged, to trump fact. Furthermore, there are fewer communal spaces that strive for credible witnessing on a societal scale (what might once have been called the “front page”). As a result, with voluminous amounts of imagery rapidly appearing and disappearing online with little chance for a viewer to focus on, let alone discuss, their multiple meanings, we are left somewhat rudderless in the vast overflow. There is no longer a hierarchy of imagery deemed important for everyone to see, so that imagery concocted by insurgent groups, for example, can fill the void, no longer needing to circumvent the few gatekeepers that remain. As a society we have managed to enter both an Orwellian world of surveillance, as its unwitting and willing subjects, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, in which there is too much of everything with too little meaning. As Neil Postman wrote in 1985, the year after Orwell’s imagined 1984, What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared
we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. . . . In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.4
One might have thought that the journalistic community, given its mandate to stay abreast of contemporary trends, might have done more to safeguard the authenticity of the photographic medium before the public’s trust was repeatedly and sorely tried. But this was far from the case. For example, in 1982 National Geographic, known as a conservative, somewhat stodgy magazine, reworked a horizontal photograph of the pyramids of Giza into a vertical cover image [FIG. 1], using an expensive digital imaging system (Photoshop was still years away). After the magazine’s director of photography publicly revealed the manipulation, it was rationalized by the chief editor as simply going back in time to move the photographer a few feet to one side to get a different point of view – a rather startling form of time travel with myriad implications for photographic practice.5 In 1994, TIME Magazine’s cover photograph of the celebrity, and former football player, O.J. Simpson was darkened, placed out of focus, and a simulation of a spotlight was added after he was arrested on suspicion of having committed two murders.6 After many complained that the image modification was racist, TIME’s editor responded in a letter to readers the following week that the distortion was only an attempt to elevate “a common police mug shot to the level of art, with no sacrifice to truth.” Also in that year, the newspaper Newsday published what is probably the first “future news photograph” of two feuding figure skaters who were to meet on the following day.7 At around that time, Finnish newspapers published, without any explanation, news photographs of a Swedish airplane crash at which there was neither a photographer nor a cam-
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Viking, 1985), vii-viii.
Discussed in Fred Ritchin, “Photography’s New Bag of Tricks,” New York Times Magazine, November, 4 1984. These and other photographic manipulations are discussed at greater length in Fred Ritchin, After Photography (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008).
TIME, June 17, 1994.
“Fire on Ice,” New York Newsday, February 16, 1994.
Digital Traffic The Web as a Cascade o f (Photographic) Images — S u z a n n e Paq u e t Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Zone Books, 1995), 12.
See, among others, Milad Doueihi, La grande conversion numérique (Paris: Seuil, 2008); Manuel Castells, The Internet Galaxy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). 2.
Vito Acconci, “Public Space in a Private Time,” in W. J. T. Mitchell, ed., Art and the Public Sphere (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 158–76; William J. Mitchell, E-topia: “Urban Life, Jim – but Not as We Know It” (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999); Mike Crang, “Public Space, Urban Space and Electronic Space: Would the Real City Please Stand Up?,” Urban Studies 37, no. 2 (2000): 301–17; and Jeremy Rifkin, The Age of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism, Where All of Life Is a Paid-for Experience (New York: J.P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2000), among others.
Guy Debord, “Theory of the Dérive,” in Situationist International Anthology, ed. and trans. Ken Knabb (Berkeley, California: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981, revised and expanded 2006), 62.
“Definitions,” in Situationist International Anthology, 52.
Thierry Joliveau, “La géographie et la géomatique au crible de la néogéographie,” Tracés. Revue de sciences humaines, no. 10 (2010): 232 (our translation).
We may well have reached the pinnacle of the spectacle, in which “all that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”1 Everything in the world – or nearly – now has a double, an image that circulates in a parallel flux, in a different space, where everything pours forth and spreads out, where everything mingles and multiplies. In this space, a new geography prevails; no earthbound logic governs its movements and displacements, for images serve as destinations, and the pathways that they entail generally resemble idle rambling or drifting (dérive) – random trajectories that are most often dictated by others’ preferences. Perhaps the society of the spectacle is a culture of “favourites,” of the most “clicks” and “views.” Understandably, many writers have proposed the metaphor of the agora or the polis (city) to describe the Internet.2 A parallel could also be drawn between (public) urban space and cyberspace.3 We might hazard other comparisons, for example by considering how practices celebrated by the Situationist International (SI) – practices meant for the city – could apply to the geography of the Internet. Dérive, defined as the activity of those who “let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there,”4 clearly evokes how we trace a path among images in cyber-networks. In this sense, observing the evolution of photographs and Internet surfers’ trajectories could become an exercise in psychogeography, a concept likewise dear to the Situationists, who defined it as “the study of the specific effects of the geographical environment . . . on the emotions and behavior of people.”5 Still, it is ironic that the Internet, a system that has made possible an entire world of images that mediatize social relationships, to paraphrase Debord, should be the very place where some of the playful manoeuvres advocated by the SI can be experienced with fresh eyes and where the notion of psychogeography has quickly resurfaced. This paradox, it seems to me, is the very essence of the Internet, which is both numbing and enlightening, invasive and indispensable, detestable and fascinating.
In the early years of the twenty-first century, artists revisiting psychogeography on the Web felt that the term was worn out and proposed “neogeography” to replace it. Their “neo-psychogeographic” wanderings, by way of digital tools, did not tend toward a study of the Web. Calling upon technology to extend the SI’s urbanist intentions, these artists aimed to develop new ways of conceiving of the physical space of the city and adopted a position “out of phase with scholarly geography.”6 Let me skirt this intersection of urban space and cyberspace for the moment and limit my psychogeographic exploration to an attempt at describing the varied Web traffic based on (and doctored with) images; that is, how photographic images are on the Web – which then forms a support – and how they make the Web – producing the very context in which they are inscribed. In short, I will observe the “continuous elaboration” of cyberspace through images. I am here borrowing a term employed by Bruno Latour with regard to Paris; he explained that every visitor adds a part, however infinitesimal, to what the city is, that visitors “have done” Paris, at the same time as Paris “has been done” by their visit.7
Frenzy First, some preliminary observations are necessary. One can only be amazed at the tremendous popularity of fixed images, which Internet users post day after day in countless quantities. These fixed images, these little bits of space-time extracted by a picture-taking apparatus in the course of events (seldom of great interest) and set in motion in digital net-works, are still called “photographs” – although from a technical standpoint they nolonger have much to do with the analogue images obtained with (old) silver-print processes. Never-theless, and although the post-photographic condition prevails, I will retain the term here, since it is still common and the social uses of the photograph seem to have varied little from its advent up to the digital era. As Roland Barthes wrote in Camera Lucida in 1980, “Each photograph is read as the private appearance of its referent: the age of Photog-
raphy corresponds precisely to the explosion of the private into the public, or rather into the creation of a new social value, which is the publicity of the private.”8 He adds that the photograph is a medium for the amateur, “for it is he who stands close to the noeme of Photography.”9 It is the amateurs rampant in social networks today, much like their predecessors infatuated with the gelatin silver print, who put their faith in the testimony of the photographic image, the noeme in question being “thathas-been”: “What I see has been here.”10 For amateurs – whatever one may say about them and despite the scepticism that should apparently be raised by digital technologies and their ease of manipulation – are believers, at least regarding their own photographs and those of the other members of their social networks. All of the photographs piling up in cyberspace arise from the general frenzy for taking snapshots – taking in the sense of conquering: I was here, I was there, I am here, here I am, here am I. They provide pictorial proof, sometimes corroborated by geotagging and the possibility of posting a picture so that it appears on a map of the world, reproduced on the Web, in the exact spot where it was taken. In addition to these triumphant images taken in the real world, taking a picture can be conceived of as the act of downloading. Why leave home or bother with a camera when all the images in the world are so readily available and so easily appropriated? And if they cannot be downloaded, a screen capture will do the trick (the flash of applets mimicking the shutter of an analogue camera is, in my opinion, a trivial yet irresistible touch). Images are captured to be put (back) online, things that are already floating somewhere in the cyberworld are taken over and made visible elsewhere, and because of this ceaseless multiplication, the notion of the snapshot has never been more salient. Both a support for images and the environment in which they are immersed, the Web presupposes a singular temporality that many characterize as a previously unimagined present of the image. Lev Manovich and Nadav Hochman
speak of timelessness or a sort of thickening of time,11 and Fred Ritchin postulates an “eternal present” or a “more elastic sense of time” for digital images.12 The time of images, if considered in light of the itineraries of Internet surfers – both producers and consumers – can surely be described as an infinite unfurling, a continual aggregation, a constant movement of and between fixed images that, multiplying in(de)finitely, repel each other, disappear only to reappear, at once “ephemeral” and “omnipresent,” to use Ritchin’s terms.13 Far from being supplanted by video, fixed images will long remain predominant on the Internet for the simple reason that they can be transmitted better and faster.
Bruno Latour, “Paris Invisible: The Plasma,” trans. Liz Libbrecht, City, Culture and Society 3 (2012): 92, accessed August 22, 2014, https:// architecturesofspatialjustice. files.wordpress.com/2013/09/ w06_latour_paris-15yearslater. pdf.
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 98.
“And as images become ‘timeless’ (or, better, timethickened), we are all in the same times together.” Nadav Hochman and Lev Manovich, “Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the Local through Social Media,” First Monday 18, no. 7 (July 2013), n.p., accessed August 4, 2014, http://firstmonday. org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/ view/4711/3698.
In addition to witnessing the things of the world – to harvesting their appearance – photographs have always had the advantage of being light and portable and, hence, travelling well. They have gone by train, boat, and plane and have transited through telegraph and telephone wires to reveal an elsewhere in a here and vice versa. Today, a single code both conveys them and makes them visible. That is, the object and its site – or context – are made of the same substance, which allows for almost simultaneous capture and mobility: the image taken can be immediately projected into cyberspace. This same code has made reproduction – and hence multiplication and profusion – easy while engendering a certain confusion between producer and consumer. Furthermore, thanks to a few software packages and their users – and there need not be many of them – images seem to propagate themselves of their own volition. Beyond the abundant activity on the mega-(or meta-) albums that Flickr and Instagram have become (statistics on the number of images uploaded to the former, taken with the latter, and viewed in both are staggering), dozens – indeed, hundreds – of viewing apps have appeared into which images from Flickr are automatically loaded or, one might
Fred Ritchin, After Photography (London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009), 51 and 142.
See “About Flickriver,” Flickriver, accessed August 22, 2014, http://www.flickriver. com/about/.
Dina Kelberman, I’m Google (started in 2011). See Kelberman’s Tumblr blog, accessed August 6, 2014, http://dinakelberman.tumblr.com.
Bruno Latour, “What is Iconoclash? Or Is There a World Beyond the Image Wars,” in Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art, ed. Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002), 14–37, accessed July 30, 2014, http://www. bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/ files/84-ICONOCLASH-GB. pdf; Bruno Latour, Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).
Flickriver, screen capture, July 17, 2014 17.
Latour, Iconoclash, 28.
“We want . . . to behave like hydrographers intent in deploying the whole catchment area of a river.” Bruno Latour and Adam Lowe, “The Migration of the Aura or How to Explore the Original through Its Fac Similes,” in Switching Codes, ed. Thomas Bartscherer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 4, accessed July 30, 2014, http://www.bruno-latour. fr/sites/default/files/108-ADAM-FACSIMILES-GB.pdf.
See “Putting the Chat into Snapchat,” Snapchat (blog), accessed July 30, 2014, http://blog.snapchat.com/ post/84407744185/puttingthe-chat-into-snapchat.
say, inhaled. They are presented as tools that make it easier, more fun, and more aesthetically satisfying to consult the images that Internet users produce. One of these viewers has a strikingly evocative name: Flickriver [FIG. 1]. Its designer (Alex Sirota, alias iosart) states that he wanted to organize photographs into a seamless flow, an infinite scroll, a river of images.14 Elsewhere in cyberspace, a new kind of “curator” is amassing, piling up, and “pinning” images transplanted and reused just about everywhere on the Web. Traffic is intense on collecting and reblogging “curatorial” sites such as Tumblr, Pinterest, and Scoop.it. It is of note that, while subjected to the vertical scrolling used in viewing apps – which can sometimes seem infinite, for example in the fascinating work of Dina Kelberman15 – the images assembled on these sites lead to their original location (one dare not say “the original”), promising further discoveries to anyone who wishes to embark upon a round of click and re-click. Another, more reticular dimension is added to the exploration, a drifting or floating from link to link, rendering the trajectories ever more complex. The Web thus seems to construct itself in cascades of images, to borrow Latour’s expression,16 which implies that the images are strung together to parade by and slip away without pause (or “freeze-frame,” as Latour says), each ex-
tending the others, enabling them to exist, to persist, each giving access to others. Latour has also spoken of “a long and carefully managed flow of images”17 and a “hydrographic basin”18 to describe this effect. So the geographical metaphor of our expedition proves to be more river than land; our psychogeographic reconnaissance might become more aquatic than urban. And in keeping with the idea of a flood, a flux, the Web might be as much cybertime (one never steps in the same river twice) as cyberspace. Might it be to prevent these swollen rivers of photographs from overflowing their banks that applications such as Snapchat – “an application for sharing disappearing pictures”19 – have arisen? Rather than all of them being stored, the photographs disappear as they are (briefly) viewed in order to avoid an inundation. But they do not evaporate so neatly. One can always make screen captures of them, and of course countersites have appeared; the ironically named Snapchatleaked.com, for example, is an exchange platform that displays images generated by Snapchat and then supposedly erased; this exemplifies the “continuous elaboration” of the cyberworld, of a perpetual motion in which nothing – least of all images – is lost, in which everything accumulates.
TrafFic The cascade of images appears as movement and continuous accumulation, the image itself being “a set of instructions to reach another one down the line.”20 Although Latour and his colleagues apply this notion to scientific inscriptions, they also note that this type of relationship is not foreign to the realm of art: “Connecting images to images, playing with series of them, repeating them, reproducing them, distorting them slightly, has been common practice in art even before the infamous ‘age of mechanical reproduction.’”21 Each work forms a chain with the others and is “prolong[ed] by another work, often tiny and clumsy, that will extend its disturbance to another bearer of art.” 22 On the Web, this mobility of works and these trajectories and representations are secured by a series of actors, objects, and techniques. In this series, the amateur, the reproductive Internet surfer, the creator of works, and the pinnercurator;23 the procedures that ingest and propagate photographs; and the images themselves opened along the way (hastily or languidly), and giving form to cyberspace, are all equally important. Is the Internet not the setting and the favoured support for reproducible works, “photographic” repro-
ductions, images – abandoned, à la dérive – that certain artists will appropriate, and also the place for photographic practices that bring together communities whose activity ensures the survival of objects and works that would otherwise be unknown or invisible today? To illustrate this cascade effect, let me select a trajectory or two from the flood of traffic. Grant Wood’s American Gothic (1930) [FIG. 2], a rather strange painting of limited aesthetic interest, is an art object that forms the basis of one of these cascades, whose movement, or network, clearly demonstrates the necessity for a proliferation of mediations to ensure that the artwork endures. To see the intensity of the traffic in this case, one need only scroll through the results of a simple image search: repetitions, reproductions, and transformations – subtle or otherwise – guarantee beyond question that this work can traverse time and remain alive and the object of affection. To illustrate this cascade effect, let me select a trajectory or two from the flood of traffic. Hermann Zschiegner’s book + walker evans + sherrie levine24 (2008) [FIG. 3] is another worthy example of the effect of repetition with variation.
Latour, Iconoclash, 34 (emphasis in original).
Bruno Latour, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 245, accessed April 14, 2015, http://www.modesofexistence.org/ (emphasis in original).
Ibid., 240: “It is because the work demands that they, insignificant amateurs, brilliant interpreters, or passionate critics, become part of its journey of instauration” (emphasis in original). See also (and especially) the works of Antoine Hennion, among others The Passion for Music: A Sociology of Mediation (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015); and “Pour une pragmatique du goût,” Papiers de recherche du CSI, no. 001 (2005), n.p., accessed January 27, 2015, http://halshs.archives-ouvertes. fr/docs/00/09/08/19/PDF/ WP_CSI_001.pdf: “This series of mediations is heterogeneous but continuous; production in the art world is made from passages, additions, crossed transformations” (our translation).
This art book may be consulted in its entirety on the self-publishing site Blurb: http://www.blurb.ca/ books/307119-walker-evanssherrie-levine. For details on the project, see Hermann Zschiegner’s Web site, “Levine & Walker – Book,” accessed November 12, 2014, http://www.follow-ed.com/ levine-walker/.
Grant Wood, American Gothic, 1930, screen capture from a Google image search, May 2014
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Rubinstein, Daniel, Johnny Golding, and Andy Fisher, eds. On The Verge of Photography: Imaging Beyond Representation. Birmingham: ARTicle Press, 2013.
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Lunenfeld, Peter. The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000.
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LAIA ABRIL Jacques Pugin
After Fa cebØØK
Fre d Ritchin
Roberto Pell egri nuzzi
Isabelle Le Minh
Ow en Kydd
Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
Di n a K e lbe r m a n
D e rrick de Kerckhove
Da vid Tomas Christopher Bak er
Miss P i xels
Pa tri cia Pi cci ni ni
Joa n F ontcub er ta
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
A n d r e as R u t kau skas
Ha ns Eijkelb oom
Dominique Sir ois
Suzanne Pa quet GrĂŠgory Chatonsky
biographiCAL NOTES LAIA ABRIL (SPAIN)
Laia Abril was born in 1986; she lives and works in Barcelona. Her works have been exhibited in many galleries and festivals: Ivorypress in Madrid (2015), PhotoEspaña in Madrid (2014), the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne (2014), the Lodz Fotofestiwal (2013), Arts Santa Mònica in Barcelona (2013), Fotomuseum Winterthur (2012), the Sarajevo Winter Festival (2012), the Lumix Festival in Hanover (2012), the New York Photo Festival (2011), Studio la Città in Verona (2010), and Caja Madrid (2010). She has received several awards and distinctions, including the CENTER Choice Award (2013) and the Benneton Fabrica artist residency (2013). She was nominated for the FOAM Paul Huf Award in 2015 and for the Joop Swart Masterclass in 2014. Her book The Epilogue was shortlisted for the First PhotoBook Award by Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards in 2014. She is represented by INSTITUTE in Los Angeles and Bath. www.laiaabril.com www.instituteartist.com
AFTER FACEBØØK (QUEBEC, CANADA)
After FacebØØk is a project developed in 2012 during a research residency at Centre des arts actuels Skol in Montreal. The artists participating in the project scan and review Facebook pages in order to document the production and circulation of photographs on this platform. The project focuses on economic, political, and social issues related to photo sharing on Facebook and on the shift in the current photographic paradigm, which is coextensive with the rise of social networks. Since 2012, After FacebØØk has created exhibitions that take into account the location and local communities where they are presented. Presentations have taken place at ARTsPLACE Gallery in Annapolis Royal (2015), Latitude 53 in Edmonton (2014), the SetUp Art Fair
in Bologna (2014), the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art in Kelowna (2014), L’Écart Lieu d’Art Actuel in Rouyn-Noranda (2014), and Espace F in Matane (2013). www.afterfacebØØk.com
ROY ARDEN (BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA)
Roy Arden was born in 1957; he lives and works in Vancouver. His works have been in solo and group exhibitions at the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver (2015), the Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver (2013), the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. (2013), the International Center of Photography in New York (2013), La Alhóndiga in Bilbao (2012), the Vancouver Art Gallery (2012, 2010, 2007), the Fotomuseum in Antwerp (2012), Les Rencontres d’Arles (2011), and the Centre de la photographie Genève (2010), among others. His works are in public collections, such as those of the Canada Council Art Bank in Ottawa, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. He is represented by Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver. www.royarden.com www.monteclarkgallery.com
CHRISTOPHER BAKER (UNITED STATES)
Christopher Baker was born in 1979 in Redford, Michigan; he lives and works in Chicago. His works have been presented in many museums and galleries, such as the Center for Arts Virgina Tech (2014), the Krannert Art Museum in UrbanaChampaign (2013), the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2013), the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (2012), the Gallery MZ in Augsburg (2011), and the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria (2011). He presented
special commissioned projects at the Frankfurt Buchmesse in 2011 and at the Paivalehti Museum in Helsinki in 2010. He has received many grants and awards, such as the Efroymson Midwest Contemporary Arts Fellowship in 2014, the Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2012, and the Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board in 2009. His works are in various collections, including the Saatchi Collection in London and the Edelman New York Collection. www.christopherbaker.net
CHRISTINA BAT TLE (ALBERTA, CANADA / UNITED STATES)
Christina Battle was born in 1975 in Edmonton; she lives and works in Denver. She holds a master’s degree in fine arts from the San Francisco Art Institute (2005). Her works have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in North America and Europe, including at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities (2014), Gallery 44 in Toronto (2014), the Ryerson Image Center in Toronto (2012), the Rotterdam Film Festival (2008), the Foreman Art Gallery in Sherbrooke (2007), and the London Film Festival (2007). She has received many awards and grants, such as the Best Canadian Work Jury Prize at the WNDX Festival of Moving Images in Winnipeg in 2013, the Steam Whistle Homebrew Award at the Images Festival of Toronto in 2008 and 2006, and the James Broughton Film Award from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2005. www.cbattle.com
LEANDRO BERRA (ARGENTINA / FRANCE)
Leandro Berra was born in 1956 in Buenos Aires; he lives and works in Paris. Since 1987, his work has been in solo and group exhibitions, including at the
Galerie UNIVER / Colette Colla in Paris (2013), École des Beaux-Arts de Besançon (2011), Les Rencontres d’Arles (2010, 2007, 2005), Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires (2003), and Maison des Arts André Malraux in Créteil (2000). His works are in a number of public collections, such as those of the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain de France, the Mairie de Gentilly, the Maison de l’Amérique latine in Paris, the Musée Martiniquais des Arts des Amériques, and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires. He received the Joven Pintura award from the Fortabat Foundation in Buenos Aires in 1993 and the Fortabat Foundation award from the Maison de l’Amérique latine de Paris in 1990. He is represented by Galerie UNIVER / Colette Colla in Paris. www.leandroberra.com www.uni-ver.com
DOMINIQUE BLAIN (QUEBEC, CANADA)
Dominique Blain was born in 1957; she lives and works in Montreal. She graduated from Concordia University in 1979 and from the New York Film Academy in 1996. Her works have been presented in North American and European museums and galleries, such as the Bentley Gallery in Phoenix (2015), The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (2012), the Musée de l’Europe in Wroclaw (2009), the Musée de l’Europe in Brussels (2008), and the Galerie de l’UQAM in Montreal (2004). Her works are in a number of public collections, including those of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Scotsdale Contemporary Art Museum in Arizona, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. She received the Paul-Émile Borduas Award in 2014 and Les Elles de l’Art award, given by Pratt & Whitney, in association with the Conseil des arts de Montréal, in 2009. She is represented by galerie antoine ertaskiran in Montreal. www.dominiqueblain.com www.galerieantoineertaskiran.com
ADAM BROOMBERG (SOUTH AFRICA / UNITED KINGDOM)
& OLIVER CHANARIN (UNITED KINGDOM)
Adam Broomberg was born in 1970 in Johannesburg, and Oliver Chanarin was born in 1971 in London. They both live and work in London. Together, they have had numerous international exhibitions, including at Tate Modern in London (2015), CSW Warsaw (2015), Tate Liverpool (2014–15), Museo Jumex in Mexico City (2014–15), the Shanghai Biennale (2014), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2013), Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar (2013), Tate Britain in London (2014), The Gwangju Biennale (2012), KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin (2011), the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2006), the International Center of Photography in New York (2006), and The Photographers’ Gallery in London (2013). They are Visiting Fellows at the University of the Arts London. Their work is represented in major public and private collections, including those of the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, the International Center of Photography, and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. They were awarded the ICP Infinity Award 2014 for their publication Holy Bible, and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2013 for War Primer 2. They are represented by Lisson Gallery in London and Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. www.broombergchanarin.com www.lissongallery.com www.goodman-gallery.com
JANET CARDIFF & GEORGE BURES MILLER (BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA)
Janet Cardiff was born in 1957 in Brussels, Ontario, and George Bures Miller was born in 1960 in Vegreville, Alberta. They live and work in British Columbia. Collaborating since 1995, the artists are internationally recognized for their immersive multimedia
works that create transcendent multisensory experiences that draw the viewer into often unsettling narratives. Cardiff and Miller have had numerous solo shows at international venues, including ARoS Aarhus Art Museum (2014–15), Vancouver Art Gallery (2014), Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (2013), Modern Art Oxford (2008), Miami Art Museum (2007), Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2007), and Mathildenhöhe in Darmstatdt (2007). Their work has also been included in recent group exhibitions and biennales such as the upcoming Soundscapes at the National Gallery, London, the 19th Biennale of Sydney in 2014, and dOCUMENTA (13). Representing Canada at the 2001 Venice Biennale, they received the Biennale’s Premio Prize and Benesse Prize. Recently, they debuted new sitespecific commissions for Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, The Menil Collection in Houston, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. They are represented by Luhring Augustine in New York. www.cardiffmiller.com www.luhringaugustine.com
GRÉGORY CHATONSKY (FRANCE / QUEBEC, CANADA)
& DOMINIQUE SIROIS (QUEBEC, CANADA)
Grégory Chatonsky was born in Paris in 1971; he lives and works in Montreal and Paris. He holds degrees in multimedia from the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris and from Paris I La Sorbonne. In 1994, he founded Incident.net, a net.art collective based in France, Canada, and Senegal. Dominique Sirois was born in 1976; she lives and works in Montreal. She holds a master’s degree in visual and media arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and her work has been exhibited in galleries in Canada and abroad. Chatonsky and Sirois have presented their collaborative projects in many venues, such as iMAL in Brussels (2015), the Unicorn Art Center in Beijing (2015), the Centre des Arts d’Engheins-les-Bains (2014), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (2013), and
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This publication was published to accompany the event Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal – 14th edition: The Post-Photographic Condition Guest curator: Joan Fontcuberta September 10–October 11, 2015 Editor: Joan Fontcuberta Publication coordinator: Marie-Catherine Leroux Copyeditors: Corina Ilea, Dominique Myrand, Käthe Roth, Lisa Waite Translators: Don Pistolesi (S. Paquet), Käthe Roth (various texts), Graham Thomson (J. Fontcuberta; texts on the artists), Lisa Waite (various texts) Proofreader: Käthe Roth Art director: Marie Tourigny marietourigny.com Graphic designers: Marie Tourigny Catherine Métayer Graphics: Marie Tourigny Johan Högdahl Joan Fontcuberta Emmanuelle Charneau All graphics were generated from images drawn from our personal banks and/or from public domain image sites. They have all been modified according to postphotographic precepts. Image processing: le Cabinet, espace de production photographique Project management, Kerber Verlag: Martina Kupiak Writing credits: Joan Fontcuberta (“Introduction: An Infinite Gaze, a Promiscuous Image”; “The Post-Photographic Condition”; texts on the artists; bibliography), Derrick de Kerckhove (his essay), Suzanne Paquet (her essay), Fred Ritchin (his essay), David Tomas (his essay) Artwork credits:
Courtesy of the artists and their galleries Pages 20–25 Lisson Gallery, London; Page 27 Bruno Munro Wright Collection, Vancouver, and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver; Page 28 Yuri Fulmer and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver; Page 29 Nelson Leong and Monte Clark Gallery, Vancouver; Pages 30–31 Galerie Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain, Montreal; Pages 42–43 © SD Holman; Page 50 © Joan Fontcuberta; Page 61 © LucGirouard.com; Pages 68–71 Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York; Pages 72–75 Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris; Pages 87–89
Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris, Lisson Gallery, London, and Galerie Neu, Berlin; Pages 90–91 galerie antoine ertaskiran, Montreal; Page 95 © Chris Houltberg; Pages 99–101 © Laia Abril / INSTITUTE; Pages 102–05 galerie UNIVER / Colette Colla, Paris; Pages 106–09 Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris; Pages 111–15 © Simon Menner and BStU 2013; Pages 117–19 Work commissioned by Multistory; Pages 120–21 XPO Gallery, Paris. Photo credits: Page 13 (J. Fontcuberta) Public domain, Wikimedia Commons, https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebes_crested_macaque Pages 130 – 37 (D. Tomas) [FIGS. 1-2-3] © David Tomas, with the assistance of Catherine Lescarbeau [FIG. 4] Source: A.B.C. Telegraphic Code 5th Edition, 1901, via Atlantic Cable. Public domain,http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Global_network#mediaviewer/File:1901_Eastern_ Telegraph_cables.png [FIG. 5] © Félix Pharand-Deschênes/Globaïa [FIG. 6] Source: “Report on the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications” (ECHELON interception system) (2001/2098(INI)), European Parliament, July 11, 2001, 39. Originally published in Hans Dodel and Sabrina Eberle, Satellitekommunikation (Hüthig Verlag: Heidelberg, 1999) © Hüthig GmbH. [FIG. 7] © Rand Corporation Pages 138 – 43 (D. de Kerckhove) [FIG. 1] © ART+COM Studios, Berlin [FIG. 2] © Christian Moeller [FIG. 3] © Maurice Benayoun [FIG. 4] © Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico [FIG. 5] © Sarah Kenderdine and Jeffrey Shaw Pages 144 – 49 (F. Ritchin) [FIG. 1] © 1982 National Geographic Society [FIG. 2] © Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz Pages 150 – 55 (S. Paquet) [FIG. 1] © Raymond McBride, Hint of Colour (Perch Rock Lighthouse New Brighton), June 30, 2014 (http://www. flickriver.com/photos/raymac10/tags/perchrock/) [FIG. 2] Google [FIG. 3] © Hermann Zschiegner [FIG. 4] Collection Centre Canadien d’Architecture / Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal. Don de Dr. Dara Alexandra Charney / Gift of Dr. Dara Alexandra Charney © SUCCESSION MELVIN CHARNEY / SODRAC (2015) [FIG. 5] © Corbis [FIG. 6] © THOMAS RUFF / SODRAC (2015) Pages 160 – 61 (portraits) Laia Abril © Piero Martinello; Cristopher Baker © Chris Houtberg; Dominique Blain © Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, and La Cavalerie; Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin © Basil Davidson; Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller © Zev Tiefenbach; MissPixels © Luc Girouard; Patricia Piccinini © Alli Oughtred; Joachim Schmid © Pete Boyd; © artists and authors
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and Library and Archives Canada cataloguing in publication Mois de la photo à Montréal (14th : 2015 : Montréal, Québec) The post-photographic condition ( Kerber photo art) Catalogue of twenty-five exhibitions of the 14th edition of Le Mois de la photo à Montréal held in 16 sites across Montréal from September 10 to October 11, 2015. Issued also in French under title: La condition post-photographique. Co-published by Kerber Verlag. Includes bibliographical references. I SBN 978-2-9808020-7-2 (Mois de la photo à Montréal) ISBN 978-3-7356-0127-8 (Kerber) 1. Photography, Artistic - Exhibitions. 2. Photography, Artistic - 21st century. I. Fontcuberta, Joan, 1955- . II. Mois de la photo à Montréal (Organization). III. Title. TR646.C32M6 2015b
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