Tags, technology
4. Robots, Race, and Gender

Last week, I attended a meeting organized by Gendered Innovations at Stanford University in Northern California. While there, I was thinking about the algorithmically-driven software that will be embedded in anthropomorphized computers – or robots – that will be entering the market soon. In this post, I want to offer a provocation, and suggest that we continue to gather interdisciplinary scholars to engage in research that asks questions about the re-inscribing of gender in both the software and hardware.  mehr

Veröffentlicht: 30.01.2018
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1. Engineering Beyond Bias: It’s Time To Call the Experts

This month, data scientist Cathy O’Neil caused a twitter storm when she alleged that academics are “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to critiquing artificial intelligence and algorithms and their impact in society. Within 24 hours, academics from the United States and Europe began to weigh in with evidence to the contrary, citing studies, conferences, scholars, and academic departments that have given more than three decades to the study of such. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 06.12.2017
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2. Geo-Engineering the Anthropocene

“A daunting task lies ahead for scientists and engineers to guide society towards environmentally sustainable management during the era of the Anthropocene. This will require appropriate human behaviour at all scales, and may well involve internationally accepted, large-scale geo-engineering projects, for instance to ‘optimize’ climate.”1Paul J. Crutzen, “Geology of Mankind,” Nature 415 (2002), 23; http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/415023a.—Paul Crutzen, 2002 mehr

Veröffentlicht: 13.05.2015
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1. Welcome to the Anthropocene!

"In a single lifetime we have grown into a phenomenal global force. We move more sediment and rock annually than all natural processes such as erosion and rivers. We manage three quarters of all land outside the ice sheets. Greenhouse gas levels this high have not been seen for over one million years. Temperatures are increasing. We have made a hole in the ozone layer. We are losing biodiversity. Many of the world’s deltas are sinking due to damming, mining and other causes. Sea level is rising. Ocean acidification is a real threat. We are altering Earth’s natural cycles. We have entered the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch dominated by humanity."


Veröffentlicht: 05.05.2015
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3. Online Image Behavior, Where Photographs Live Today

Whereas the relation between reality and representation was a key concern of classical photography, now, as photography has become digital, the focus has shifted from this single relation to a multiplicity of relations that extend from a photograph. Value is no longer primarily derived from the special relation between the object in front of the lens and the way it is depicted in the photograph, but it is generated by the multiplicities of image visualizations and variations branching off from the initial moment of capture.1Part of this value is also accrued through the generation of metadata. This is the central point of Katrina Sluis and Daniel Rubinstein’s paper titled “Notes on the Margins of Metadata; Concerning the Undecidability of the Digital Image.” In this article, the authors claim that meaning and consequently value is not generated “through indexicality or representation but through the aggregation and topologies of data.” Daniel Rubinstein and Katrina Sluis (2013) “Notes on the Margins of Metadata; Concerning the Undecidability of the Digital Image,” Photographies 6 (1), pp. 151–158. http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/6238/1/DR_KS_Notes_on_the_Margins_of_Metadata.pdf When uploaded, as the artist Kari Altmann aptly describes this process, “the image might aim to move more anonymously in a swarm of similar content. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 08.04.2015
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1. Introduction

For this blog, I will address a number of ideas about the contemporary role of photography within digital culture and artistic practice. With the photographic image having become firmly established as the predominant form of online image, photography is now an increasingly pervasive mode of cultural production. As a result, it is important to explore the role of digital photography within the context of photography as both an artistic medium and a specialized field that has emerged over the course of the last two centuries.


Veröffentlicht: 16.03.2015
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6. On Digital and Analogue Books and a Possible Scenario for the Future

(I will take the liberty here to describe my wildest fantasies).

Lorenzo Rocha and Andreas Langen in their discussion on September 24 and 25 raised an interesting point that I want to reflect on.

What could be the new medium for digital images? Do digital images need analogue manufactured books as a presentation medium, or something different or new? mehr

Veröffentlicht: 28.10.2014
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4. Geographies of Photography

Over the last few weeks I’ve been laying out some ideas about what photography has become, and have begun to articulate some of the ways I use to think about it. In previous posts, I wrote about replacing a more conventional idea of photography with the idea of seeing machines and put forward the idea of “scripts” to begin understanding how seeing machines function, i.e. how they act upon the world. I wrote about scripts as being the range of activities that a seeing machine “wants” to do, and the range of possibilities that those “wants” facilitate, and the range of possibilities that are foreclosed. To illustrate the idea, I used the example of an Automated Number Plate Reading (ANPR) system, and tried to show how the cameras, shutters, and lenses of such as system are totally irrelevant without the “back end” of signal processing, data bases, analytics, search algorithms, and the like. All of these add up to a seeing machine that “wants” to perform a rather narrow range of tasks, and thereby sculpts the world in some very specific ways. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 11.04.2014
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3. Scripts

In the last post, I proposed that 21st Century “photography” has come to encompass so many different kinds of technologies, imaging apparatuses, and practices that the kinds of things we easily recognize as photography (cameras, film, prints, etc.) now actually constitute an exception to the rule. I proposed a much broader definition – seeing machines. The point of having such an expanded definition is to help us notice and recognize the myriad ways in which imaging systems (including traditional cameras), and the images they produce, are both ubiquitous, and actively sculpting the world in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. Moreover, I proposed that classical photo theory is of little use, and may indeed actually hinder, a broad understating of contemporary imaging systems. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 24.03.2014
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2. Seeing Machines

In my last blog post, I sketched out some of the ways that traditional photography theory and practice seems to be at a standstill. Contemporary revolutions in photography, from omnipresent digital picture-taking to the advent of hundred-billion image repositories have prompted some practitioners, theorists, and critics to ask whether “photography” (at least as it was once understood) “is over.” I noted that the question has arrived at an ironic time – how could photography be “over” at the exact moment in history that it has achieved an unprecedented ubiquity? mehr

Veröffentlicht: 13.03.2014
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1. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?

Happy new year everyone on “still searching”.

This is my first real attempt at writing a blog, and I want to thank the Fotomuseum Winterthur for inviting me. I have to beg readers to bear with me while I adjust my academic style to something more conversational, hoping indeed to continue the lively conversation on “Still Searching”. I say continue, because even though I mostly want to concentrate on history — how do we, how should we, write histories of photography today, in 2014? — I would like to interact with previous bloggers here, especially Marvin Heiferman’s very suggestive comments and questions in the previous series.

One big question is about the continuing sense that we are witnessing an “explosion” of images, linked with the digital revolution. Marvin commented on this in his post on “The River”.  This is obvious, and yet it is something troubling, historically, because we have a very large record of previous expressions of the same sense — descriptions and interrogations about “a flood of pictures”, since at least the 1850s. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 14.01.2014
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3. The Opacity of Photography

One of my students recently declared she believed there was nothing to learn from Flusser’s writings on photography. For her, digital technology expanded the possibilities of photography well beyond what Flusser described as the pre-defined program contained within the camera apparatus. The same went for the idea of the impenetrability of the “black box,” which seemed ludicrous in today’s context of widely shared technical astuteness and the infinite possibilities offered by photo-editing software. If Flusser’s work certainly appears dated in some ways, as Walead Beshty suggested in one of his posts on this blog, discussing the 1986 essay “The Photograph as Post-Industrial Object,” other texts, notably the lectures given in Arles in 1984 that were later re-worked into the book Towards a Philosophy of Photography, are still well worth reading. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 21.03.2013
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1. Platinum Blondes and a Bearded Lady

“The grammar of cinema is a grammar uniquely its own.”

Jean Epstein

I remember once being fascinated at the discovery that the silky, almost-white, blond hair of many Hollywood stars from the Golden Age was only an illusion, – a contraption developed for the silver screen. The ability of platinum blond to reflect light endowed actresses clad in shimmering gowns with a radiant halo, bestowing upon them an enticing inaccessibility. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 01.03.2013
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5. A Look Forward

In my last post, I want to have a look at the challenges that may arise from the increasing use of both still and moving images by photographers. The first is, of course, whether photographer is still an apt term to describe these practitioners, or whether “digital camera artist” and “digital camera art” would not be more adequate terms – thus signaling a certain discontinuity and a distance to those who wish to artificially preserve  a certain type of photographic traditionalism and all of its attendant trappings. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 19.02.2013
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4. A Look Back (Part II)

In my post from two weeks ago, I pointed out that, despite their shared characteristics, film has been traditionally associated with artifice and fiction, whereas photography was supposed to have a preferred access to reality. This is, of course, due to the fact that in mainstream cinema film is used to create primarily narrative works, i.e. it defined the temporality of film as essentially narrative. This has shaped the relation of the two media. It sometimes seems that photography is haunted by its very limited narrative capacity in comparison with film. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 12.02.2013
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2. A Look Back (Part I)

If one wants to gauge how the relation of still and moving images is shifting, it is useful to look back at the relation of film and photography in the analogue age.  Both media relied on the same optical apparatuses and photochemical processes – they produced images by exposing a photosensitive surface to light refracted by a lens. The images they produced were essentially indexical, and yet this indexicality has played a very different role in the reflection of the two media. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 28.01.2013
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1. The Shifting Relations of Still and Moving Photographic Images

The debates on the advent on digital photography in recent years have largely focused on the question whether the digital turn has essentially altered the nature of photography, and whether digital photography could indeed, strictly speaking, still be considered photography at all. Inherent in these queries was naturally the question of the respective validity, superiority, or inferiority, of digital and analogue photography. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 14.01.2013
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4. Aesthetics and Distribution Case (1): Preliminary Notes on Art’s Ability to Radicalize Academia

“…each encounter produces a new position of assemblages, even as it simultaneously defines a new use for these assemblages” -Gilles Deleuze

In this posting, I would like to pursue an earlier tangent, and redirect it. If we start with the idea that a medium is constituted by a dialectic of applied use and technological development, and that it is further defined by the conventionalization of the relationship between the two (a process that occurs over time and is in a state of constant revision) it follows that a medium is never freed from its use, nor is it freed from its position between some agents in a transaction, meaning that it can never stand apart from these conditions. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 07.05.2012
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1. Imperfection

In looking at both contemporary exhibitions as well as photographs as they are used in everyday aesthetic applications, one notices that imperfection plays a key role. Far removed from the ideals of the Group f/64, New Objectivity, or even the Bechers and their school, to name a few positions, photographs that consciously employ technical errors have become common sense in photography. There are photographers who use deficient cameras; Lomography aficionados sell their photographs along with this type of camera in stores in major cities; snapshots are in demand, and blurriness is the aesthetic rule. Imperfection is the new ideal of contemporary photography, even if celebrated, staged, and represented in a kind of perfection. My thesis is that imperfection serves as the contemporary modus of the real in photography. mehr

Veröffentlicht: 11.01.2012
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