Photography &/as Digital Media – pt 2

  1. Jason Evans – Online Photographic Thinking 

Evans begins his essay by stating that he doesn’t believe that photography has made the most of the new, as of 2008, ‘frontier’ that is the World Wide Web.  He is underwhelmed and wonders why there haven’t been greater leaps expanding photographic ideas into this new realm of digital possibilities.  Evans who explains his personal navigation as an ‘experimental’ photographer has been inspired by early innovators  during his schooldays in the 1980s such as Brian Eno – he gives his Mistaken Memories of Medieval Manhatten (1981) as an example of asking questions of visual reception (in this case television view versus the vertical photograph view)

Sidenote: Another version, a much lower quality version is below. What’s interesting is this person had to upload the video as a “part 1 of 4”, etc. perhaps due to size(?) These are interesting to compare as platforms (Vimeo versus Youtube), image quality, questions of original content come up – where were this taken from? etc.   (And also Brian Eno’s music in the Vimeo portion is very relaxing to listen to as I write this.) 😉

Evans explains that he has learned how to, successfully he adds, use the Web as a tool for showing his work in interesting, new ways.  He attributes the switch to taking pictures with mobile devices and also wifi access and being a radically ‘tool of ldelivery’.  For Evans, the Internet and new digital technologies are democratic, liberating, & inclusionary.  Evans exclaims his newfound freedom, “the new technologies gave me license and encouraged me to deliberate less about whether or not to actually take a picture.”  Because of the ability to take picture after picture and not worry about number of frames, film rolls, etc. digital cameras enable the user to be free to get the images they desire without worrying about materials.  This connects to a democratic way of art making in that photography became way more affordable and accessible to a larger group of users.  He does note some contradictions with becoming overly snap happy, giving the example of his site where he would upload one image every day but would not keep an archive – he would delete the previous days image…to “kill my darlings one by one, which has been a cause of anxiety for many viewers.”  These happy moments were just that, moments, and encouraged viewers to experience the “ephemeral aspects of photography.”  This reminds me of the difference between the apps Instagram and Snapchat…tho I am not very familiar with the latter my understanding is Snapchat does not keep past images unlike Instagram’s archival, image blog style.

Evans then directs his thoughts toward the importance of how the Internet has the power to connect to vast audiences.   It has been linked with globalization…going beyond borders, connecting internationally.  The ability to show art via the Internet not only allows for a wider circulation reach, but also at a significantly lower cost in production than in paper publications…again returning to the idea of the democratic Internet.  Shift in ownership also changes the dialogue to focus more on the content rather than who owns the work.   Evans does note that the Internet as a means to show work may not be for everyone but, “if an audience is what you prefer (as opposed to a physical thing like a book or a show as the testimony of your photographic talent), then the Internet is for you.”  Evans believes that digital is just another avenue, another technology, like the other predecessors of how photography has evolved…it’s not better it’s just a new way of making/doing/showing.  It’s an expansion, not a limiter.  He believes digital allows for a more direct engagement with the image itself…to let go of the object “thing-ness” of photography and jump right into the content.  However there are still presumptions of what is “serious” high art in the contemporary art world and this brings up questions of whether the Internet can be a place for the “serious” artist.

Most of the links Evans uses to illustrate his opinion…or his own work….are non functional now…given that this article was written in 2008.

Themes I noticed..Evans believes the internet is: inclusive, affordable, new form of presentation/distribution, democratic, diverse, intimate

All judgement up front, I found a lot of Evans’ article to be self praising and directed to what is in my opinion hipster photo culture.  The desire for hits, likes, who is hot, etc. I appreciated the comments to this article…which also speaks to the platform that Evans was using ..the fact that he is receiving comments is a sign of the internet age.  I appreciated Penelope Umbrico’s response the most…perhaps biasly because she was the only female voice in the conversation, she called the internet a “visual index of ourselves – a constantly shifting auto-portrait.”  … “the loss of aura-to have extended into the very essence of the Web.”

2. Lev Manovich’s The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production?       Briefly I will touch on this article as I just am seeing the update to the blog assignment.  Manovich also points out themes such as affordability, etc and is interested in how media functions and what it means.  He spends some time explaining the shift to web 2.0 which includes media moving to social media.  Here he focusing on strategies & tactics and how their roles have evolved and shifted between institutions (producers) and individuals (consumers).  Usually strategies are employed by the institutions and tactics by the individuals.  Tactics are adaptations. Remixing is an example of a tactic.  Producers use what the consumers remix and regurgitate it out to sell ..”today strategies used by social media companies often look more like tactics” and vice-versa.

3. The article I chose to read from Omar Kholeif’s You Are Here – Art After the Internet is called May Amnesia Never Kiss Us on the Mouth by Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme.  They state that everyone is online saturating the Internet with the “intimate parts of our offline/online lives.”  Since anybody can add to the online environment creatively, to the “afterlife of our experiences”, they ask,“What do artists as artists matter now?”  The artist as archivist seems to have been replaced by the activist as archivist.  The position of artist is no longer as central, “activists shaping events on the ground, they are at the same moment producing and circulating counter-narratives through images, videos, sound, and text.”…and is a “fundamental way of rupturing the spectacle of power.”  People on the internet are using artistic methods such as appropriation, documenting, remixing, and performing them publicly. “The archival impulse is everywhere”       In terms of the political sphere, Abbas & Abou-Rahme state that the “politics and power of the record as testimony, whether as images, sound, or text, has perhaps never been as publicly grasped or contested.”  The flip-side to all the online documenting is that it is impermanent, and provides intel for surveillance purposes.  Control of information is therefore an issue…as Abbas and Abou-Rahme “anything can be removed….we are amidst a struggle over the future of these forms: one that goes to the heart of the critical struggle over the production and control of knowledge .” Finally they ask, without answer, how will the changes affect the ‘archivable and future memory?’



My internet art example is performance artist who goes by the alter ego of Hennesey Youngman.  (a persona invented and performed by Jayson Musson).  Started in 2010,  He uses his alter ego to satirically embody a millennial art critic or the anti-thesis of an art critic perhaps is more correct.  These are pretty hilarious considering he has his MFA and is mentioning a lot of the folks we’ve been discussing over the last year.  But he is also commenting on how the internet is able to be used.

Photography &/as Digital Media – pt 2

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