Jun 162013

And I have been wondering lately, wondering a lot actually, about what has become of the image. The photographic image to be precise. The reflection is not nostalgic, melancholic or anything like that; it is critical, whimsical and with any luck at all optimistic. The ease, speed and technical apparatus for taking pictures has become absolutely and totally ubiquitous. Instagram is everywhere, curating assembled visions of the world by simply adding a # in front of a word. A couple of clicks here and there and one has a high quality, limited edition, audience focussed bound volume, in full colour and showing all the smiles and chuckles of the quotidian.

One cannot but think of Seymour Parrish’s overdub “Family photos do keep smiling faces. Births, weddings, holidays, children’s birthday parties… People take pictures of the happy moment in their lives. Someone looking through a photo album could conclude we had lead a joyous, leisurely existence. Free of tragedy. No one ever takes a picture of something they want to forget.” [One Hour Photo, 2002]

St. John's Trio

St. John’s Newfoundland, 2012

Now, we are taking photographs of all our moments, not always the smiley face happy times (though there is always a plethora of grins, real and staged, to wade through). What is interesting is asking ourselves whether this represents the final secularization of the image, of all images. Does this strip away meaning? Does it prove that looking for meaning was/is a red herring?

In many ways, the “art” photographer’s job was indeed to try and accumulate the images of those things that we very well may want to forget. Sometimes this could take the guise of making a statement on various constructions of social co-existence,  recording a moment of ephemeral passage, creating a record of whatever. All this fancy language seems utterly useless to interpret what is happening now that these statements are made by vast curated assemblages represented by the #tag.

The image is finally free of the maker, is it?

Dec 282012

It is true, and this letter was trying to tell him something, but the force of the blow, coming as it did during a moment of great ego satisfaction, seemed to affect her ability to follow rational linear narrative forms. And this is why War and Peace was very slow to read indeed.




Feb 102012

I was working on the draft for my next Fish Plant blog posting when this arrived in my mailbox. I thought it would be interesting to digress from the usual format of showing a few images and waxing poetic on process to post this article as it addresses issues around interdisciplinary research projects like the CURRA; of which I am a participant. I have tried to embed the article on this post, if you don’t see it below, please go here.

The article articulates a dynamic discussion on how research is done. In my view, we have moved away from observing the world and given data and statistical analysis a primary role in understanding the phenomena and relationships that frame our view of the world in most, if not all, aspects of study. This is neither a positive or a negative, every tool we can assemble to try and understand our role in our socio-ecosystems should be used in unison.

But I do feel that we don’t lift our heads above our spreadsheets and deliverables long enough to actually smell and look at the roses. I like to think that this is where cultural producers and philosophers can contribute actively to accumulating and synthesizing a type of data that can bring observation back into the equation in a dynamic and original way. An aesthetic centred research practice does not necessarily exclude scientific investigation; it may well complicate things since it is not quantitative and its qualitative aspect can sometimes require a bit of work on the part of, for lack of a better word, stakeholders. These are examples of work where artists were given the latitude and freedom to explore, investigate and present findings in a manner that challenges and augments the assembling of data.