Concepts and Approaches Lecture 7

The digital image and the algorithmic turn: non-representational photography and the poor image in network culture

The linguistic term, indexicality, the digital photograph, the algorithmic turn, network culture, non-representational photography, remediation, the poor image, post-internet art.

Digital photography is not ‘taken’ as is the case of analogue photographs that capture the world, but rather it is ‘made’ by an algorithm in a program

Following the advent of digital photography, it is difficult to talk of photography in terms of its relationship to the outside world, its representational qualities and its indexicality.

  1. Indexicality- a photograph is ‘of’ reality
  2. A photograph is a representation of reality
  3. A computer using an algorithm makes a photograph, it is boundless, it moves and feeds into a networked culture. Comprised of 1s and 0s and copied infinite times, we don’t know where it stops and where it starts. It is plural not singular.

The linguistic term

  • Describes photography as a cultural or linguistic object
  • Something that has an indexical connection to objects in the world

The algorithmic turn

Describes the manner in which digital photography produces images based on data received by a sensor, translated into 1s and 0s (digital code). The data is not indexical as it refers more to its process of capture than to the real world. The final ‘look’ of a digital photograph is an accurate translation of the real world based on the aesthetics of analogue photographs.

Analogue photography (the linguistic term)

Object à unknowable à image

Reality (objet à the direct recording of light à representation (image)

Digital photography (the algorithmic turn)

Object à unknowable à image

Reality (IRL) à the computation of light as data/ its algorithmic processing à non-representational (IMG)

Non-representational photography

Refers to images that do not simply offer representations of the real world, but additionally, the unknowable processuality of algorithms and the infinite copying, distribution and mutation of the image in network culture (the internet)

Network culture

Is not a culturally singular phenomenon. It doesn’t represent one view of the world, but rather a multiplicity of views of multiple cultures simultaneously. Images smove freely, changing their meanings, existing

The poor image

A copy in motion, something that is being copied and moving at the same time

It is poor quality

Compressed, reproduced, ripped, remixed

Resolution is substandard

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