The Global Image

701 Position and Practice – Week 1

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Big Bang Data exhibition at ArtScience Museum Erik Kessels

What came to my mind during the introduction is that the term “Global image” has the potential to be misunderstood as a global oneness or global understanding of images or influence. But Jesse made it clear it is about the ubiquitous nature of photography. From the inception of photography it was given as a “Gift to the world” and it rapidly spread across the world reaching across racial, cultural and class divides.

In my view, Photography is a relatively young discipline in the arts when compared to Painting, sculpting and the literature. If the enlightenment influenced it or it influenced the enlightenment is debatable.

The Democratic and Ubiquitous Nature of photography

The ubiquitous spread of photography continues until today and has not abated. The digital era and growth in image content via social media and digital albums which MOMA refer to as ” a Sea of images” reflects this and the growth has become exponential.

As a young man in 1977 I had access to photography via the small format point and shoot cameras and getting into formal photography required a relatively small investment in a Single Lens Reflex film camera and few lenses primary lenses. You were then considered a photographer meant that I special place in society. An artisan. In South Africa we never had photographic guilds. These 35 mm SLRs, range finder, medium format and large format cameras were mainly manual mechanical devices that needed a practical knowledge and skill to operate. It meant that while everyone could own a camera a photographer was seen as a qualified practitioner. Anyone else was called “snap shooters or point and shooters” ( “mik en druk” in Afrikaans).

Automation and improved technologies such as auto focus and in camera light meters was being introduced making it possible to reduce the skill and knowledge and the practitioner required and term Photographer was effectively merged with that of the snap shooter. This and the advent of the digital age continued the closing of the gap and the ability to have this functionality coupled withe the ability to process the images and share it cheaply via your phone meant that you always have your camera with you caused the recording of images to globally grow to what it is today.

The moving image is fast approaching the same level and will soon become as easily available as the still picture with Virtual Reality following closely behind. Is this a bad thing? Not for those that use the technologies. But it impacts on the practitioners and their ability to have commercially viable careers.

How does it impact my photographic practice?

Christopher Baker, Hello World!Or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Enjoy the Noise. Image Credit : ©GUNNAR KNECHTEL

The digital world and technology advances influences my practice in various ways.

  • It simplify my image creation process,
  • The quality of the imaging products are increasing daily
  • To remain competitive I need to be ahead of the technology curve to produce work with a higher quality.
  • I need to transcend the “normal” in terms of my practice
  • The expectation from a professional photographer is higher than ever and your work needs to be exceptional and eclectic
  • I need to work hard to elevate my practice to a point that it transcend the visual noise and let it float above the “Sea of images”
  • My practice requires of capturing awe inspiring images at a consistent level
  • My knowledge of the visual language needs to transcend that of the average camera user.
  • I need to make my images available on social media platforms and other digital platforms
  • I need find ways to present my photography in a way no longer experienced by the average user. In this case their is a resurgence of the print.
  • As Practitioner of the discipline I am required and need to be willing to educate the masses on the visual practice and appreciation for this form of expression.
  • I need must be willing to participate collaborate with practitioner communities and like minded individual that want to continue to elevate this practice.
  • And lastly realize that certain categories of photography will never be competitive and financially viable.

All of the above is the same as it was in the past. In short as a professional or art photographer you need to have something to say that is relevant, express it well and do it at an eclectic level.

My impressions of the submissions of the Fishers cohort

This week was also intended for us to get to know each other. In my opinion the passion and love for photography is high. The individual views shared in the assignment showed diversity and in certain cases a depth. We need to remember that even if photography is global it is our diversity that will strengthen all of us. Photography as a discipline and the passion for it is not dead and as it is relatively young. Who knows what will be realized by the 19 individuals starting down this path of discovery.

Jessie and Paul’s willingness to engage, share and support is already having an effect on me. I cant wait for the next portion. I guess we need to also learn to trust the process and participate fully to make it a success.

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