My studio looks like Mission Control, with barely a surface not home to a computer, a monitor, or a knot of cables. The other surfaces are covered with books. Continue reading
There was one piece of work in the Big Bang Data exhibition that I did not mention in my last post: Black Shoals – Dark Matter by Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway.  More than any other piece in the show, many of which I was already familiar with from the Internet and academic texts, this is the one I was most excited, and most nervous, about seeing, ‘in the flesh’ so to speak.
The Big Bang Data Theory
Reflections on the recent Big Bang Data exhibition held at Somerset House, London.
A thought on The Revenant, note this post contains minor spoilers. Continue reading
Sitting in the darkened gallery, I spent a long time trying to discern if the back-projected image I was looking at was moving. The fact that the image of a snow-capped mountain surrounded by trees was accompanied by a field recording of wind and other sounds familiar from the outdoors seemed to suggest that it should move, as in a film. Yet, as I peered at the screen I could see no evidence of trees blowing in the wind, or of a bird flying across the sky. At one point during my visit, the screen suddenly went blank, the image reappearing a few seconds later, only, I think, lit slightly differently: the shadows shorter. Continue reading
No more boring photographs?
Some remarks on Philip Schmitt’s Camera Restricta
“The person who has never climbed a mountain has never lived. He merely vegetates on a level plain. What he lacks is the third dimension, the dimension of the sublime.”
– Vilem Flusser, quoted by Michael Najjar 
In 2008 Michael Najjar travelled to Argentina to climb Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas. While there he photographed the mountain and its surrounding peaks using an analogue camera; these photograph later became the basis of his 2010 series high altitude. In this series, the line of these already imposing mountain ranges is altered so that they no longer follow their natural path but instead trace the rise and fall of a number of the world’s stock indices – including NASDAQ, the Dow Jones, the DAX and the Hangseng. One image, perhaps the most potent of the series, deals with one single company: the infamous Lehman Brothers bank, the collapse of which is widely attributed as the trigger for the 2008 financial crash.
Indexicality between Sensors and Social Media
In a previous post,  I finished with a quote from a New Yorker article by Craig Mod, in which he suggested some different types of data that might be gathered and ‘pinned’ to the ‘back’ of a digital photograph. Amongst the data he suggested we might collect were “location, weather, even radiation levels […] social status and state of mind”, in other words data drawn from sensors and from social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  I made the point then that there is a huge difference between data taken from a sensor and data from taken from Facebook, the first is reliant on measuring some kind of physical quality; the second, the expressions of people. I stand by that point, but now I want to examine the two in a little more detail. Continue reading
Let us, just for a moment, put aside all issues of digital manipulation, staged and synthetic photographs; and assume that the photograph, analogue or digital, is a photograph of something in the world. If the photograph shows us, to borrow a phrase from Barthes, the necessarily real thing that was placed before the lens,  then it follows that there must have been some other necessarily real things just beyond the camera’s view. If the photograph shows us an embalmed moment in time, then it follows that time continues to pass after the camera’s shutter closed. In short the photograph shows us a small slice of space and time, both of which extend well beyond its frame. Continue reading