Research – Photographers working with Information

Following my tutorial with David Moore I identified that my creative process needed to advance from the original attempts I had made using images and text overlays. Through researching artists like Broomberg and Chanarin, I decided that using found imagery would be the most appropriate method for my practice because of the links to my previous work in the Phonar module. However just taking this found material and exhibiting it doesn’t display any skill or further thought so I needed to find some way of making something out of the original images. This process of making could be anything from adding in other elements like text and additional imagery to the images or taking the original image and trying to transform it in some way. I thought back to the project I completed in Phonar where I sourced information about a particular person and tried to make an abstract portrait out them using their inconsequential data. I held this in my mind whilst completing additional research and came across a project by Mishka Henner which realised the ideas I had been thinking about, this is when I started thinking about using code in my final major project.

Mishka Henner

I previously researched Henner in relation to using found material however his practice is also very appropriate for looking at photographers who have worked with code. A project which is extremely interesting and actually heavily relates to my ASL work, is ‘_IMG01’  which takes an photograph taken by James Francis Hurley and displays it in a form of code. Just like I plan to explore with my images, Henner investigates an alternative form of representation of this image and displays it in a book.

IMG01-Book-Inner-03_900

IMG01-5x7-print_900

When the viewer flicks through this book they are having the experience of effectively ‘reading’ this code like they would with any other book. However the difference is that unless they are extremely familiar with this type of code, they wouldn’t be able to know what the code was actually telling them until they reached the original photograph. The original photograph provides that extra support to let them know what the code is actually describing. If I am going to work with code, I need to make sure that my viewer has some indication as to what they are looking at or provide them with the original so that they can see. This photograph, although historic, isn’t well-known globally which is presumably why Henner chose to include the original as opposed to just a description of what it is. If the image was of a subject or event that is particularly well-known globally then Henner could have just relied on a caption or short description to get the viewer to engage. With my ASL images the information will provide the audience with more knowledge about the subject I’m using however I need to decide whether they will benefit from seeing the original image itself.

 

Jon Haddock

I was referred to Jon Haddock in relation to my Final Major Project work as he has also chosen to work with code in his images. His RGB grid series are images made of up of numeric values which represent how much red, green and blue is in each pixel was in the original source image.

Original Image

airpirates1

Detail

ap-detail

Full Coded Image

airpirates07c

These coded images are really clever because a trace of the original image is still visible in the coded image because of the numerical values and the amount of space they respectively take up. This is an approach which tackles the issue I identified previously with Mishka Henner’s image in that the viewer can’t recognise the original in the coded outcome. Here the viewer can recognise the source image in the coded outcome however it still isn’t very obvious and you need the original image beside it to make those comparisons. Perhaps like I reflected on Mishka Henner’s work, the coded image would work on it’s own if Haddock chose an iconic image that is easily recognised globally. This is definitely something to consider in my own work when working with code, although my outcome may not look like Haddock’s I need to consider whether I need to include some contextual support to allow my viewer to interpret this effectively. The black background in this piece is actually really effective and really makes me think of a screen when viewing it which accentuates the fact it is built using a computing technique. These are all stylistic choices I must consider when producing my own images to see which will be the most appropriate for my concept.

 

Reflection:

Mishka Henner and John Haddock have pushed the boundaries of representation by using the computing that we take for granted in this digital age. Quite often we forget that the digital image is only viewed as a visual image when it is required to, for transmission, sharing and sending the image is converted into code in order to be sent instantaneously. A computer can instantly read the code behind the image and generate the visual preview that was originally created using a camera device. Meaning that every self portrait or portrait taken has been converted into code at some point of it’s lifespan as an image. Therefore the individual has been, and has the capacity to be represented by information and code, just like they increasingly are in online communication. This idea has inspired me to try and use the information in my appropriated images in a different way, if I could represent the original images using the metadata or data such as RBG or binary this would link really well to my original ASL idea and link to the ideas I established in Phonar. There are several design choices I need to approach carefully however that I have identified in my research, the idea of context and whether the viewer needs support to interpret the image effectively. I either need to provide the original image for the viewer like Haddock and Henner have in order to let the viewer make comparisons, or I need to consider adding in some textual support which would explain the idea behind the image itself. This research has been extremely beneficial as it has allowed my project to progress in a new direction which I believe will be more effective than what I was previously exploring.

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