151MC: Digital Opportunities Lecture

Within this lecture we began to look at more of the opportunities which are presented to us as artists who are living in the digital age. In particular we looked at appropriation, algorithms and audio.

Appropriation

This can be defined as ‘the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.’ in artistic terms this can be the practice or technique of reworking images from well-known paintings, photographs, etc., in one’s own work. The best example of this can be seen in the early 20th century during the cubism and Dada Movement where artists experimented with the incorporation of found objects  of different mediums into collages. Having previous researched into Hanna Hoch, a dada artist, for a previous assignment I was already familiar with their style of work.

The photomontages used cuttings from newspapers, advertisements and textiles meaning they were able to directly reference and comment on those items. By physically cutting the images out and sticking them down they were creating a window in which the work would be viewed. The way in which we display these images and objects alters the way in which something is viewed – this can be seen in the digital montage which we looked at further into the lecture. Due to the medium of these collages the viewer knows exactly where the image has come from therefore making it more valid.

The photomontages could be described as art of the industrial age, the material being worked with is very much physical. We can see this through the shadows that the edges of images create and the blunt  or jagged edges of the images, combined with their own borders are a constant reminder that we are looking at a collage made with scissors and glue, and created by people not a computer.

So what about collages in the digital age? We are no longer able to see the lines where the images have been physically cut from newspapers, magazines etc. Thus we as a viewer lose information about the medium of the article and where this information has originated from. Is it from a blog, video or a newspaper? As a result this can impact on the validity of the collage. In some cases the ‘machanic’ who put together the collage also becomes the ‘manipulator’

We looked at the work of Peter Kennard and Cat Phillips who produced this photomontage in 2011 in response  to the invasion of Iraq.

The obvious boarders are taken away in this montage making it harder as a reader to see where the different images have been put together to create a realistic scene. On close inspection it is clear that the image is not as it appears. However it still holds a sort of truth and therefore still has an affect on us even when what is depicted within the image is not true.

After looking at the work of Mishka Henner who focused on remembering iconic imagery we looked at the work of Pavel Maria Smejkal who’s series called “Fatescapes” I found particular interesting. He erased the main subject and central motif from historical documentary photograph. However we argued that can this really be called as his own work as the images were not originally taken by him.

100_01

The top image shows Smejkal’s version of the iconic Tiananmen Square tank photograph taken by Jeff Widener. The effect is almost ghostly and it makes the scene appear calm.

Algorithm

After exploring appropriation we looked further into photography in relation to algorithms. An algorithm can be defined as ‘a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer’. 

We began to look into the work of photographers/artists who used information, statistics and data in their work to make visual representations of this information. An example of this can be seen in Eric Fischer’s work.

This series of work shows where people are using Flickr and Twitter. The red dots are locations of Flickr pictures. Blue dots are locations of Twitter tweets. White dots are locations that have been posted to both. I really liked the concept of this idea and how it provides a visual for the statistics as we as viewers are able to appreciate the scale of this digital interaction.

References 

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Published by

Charlotte Pattinson

Photography student

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