Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Information Smugglers and Photography

Foto by Richard Wilhelmer

We gave up on art as being a window into our world a long time ago. Photography, for a short period, took up the slack. Images on a solid medium like paper (photographs) or images displayed via an electronic screen still contain some of their power of authenticity. Pre-photoshop manipulation was an arduous task usually not performed unless you were a professional. Today, authenticity sits precariously on the question is it real or photoshopped.

Of course, manipulation is somewhat tricky. Through composition, the photographer manipulates the scene. The camera manipulates color and perspective. Atmosphere manipulates objects. And so forth.

However, there is this notion that when we press that button whatever results will be a relatively accurate visual record--sans intermediation.

Everything will change with "Image Fulgurators." Ad creep, protesters, and general revellers will find innumerable applications. Imagine ad placements in your photographs. Imagine political diatribes in public squares. Imagine obscenities on public monuments. Sure, these examples may create dialogue, but it does so from a position of stealth. In an age of transparency, I would argue that the above examples are ill advised.

Although it is hard not to think about its use in negative terms, maybe there are uses that I've not considered. Maybe we'll stop taking so many darn pictures and become better story tellers--eliminating the overuse* of visual artifacts. Or maybe the practice will allow us to enjoy the moment without being a documentarian.

*yes, I note the irony that this post uses an image to illustrate the story. I'm not sure how to reconcile that one :-S

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