digital, digital image, mobile phone

a digital public sphere

October 17, 2020

Put the two observations together and you come up with an awareness that people are bored with photography; photos have a lifespan of a day or so on social media sites and they are judged any how many likes they receive. People are motivated to take photos to grow their following on social media. The photos are disposable and they mean little when their moment presence has gone.

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Behind these two observations is the new technological path of the networked digital image and the camera phone. It is a new technological path because the camera phone is not sold as a camera, it has a built-in storage medium, and it requires no development process to produce the photographs. It also integrates the advances in information, communication, and media technology: it is a handheld programmable computer with an inherent network connection and a built-in camera for taking still and moving pictures. 

The period of disruption and ferment has given way to incremental change within the cultural context of an internet with its pervasive, embedded filtering. The algorithmic curation of our information flows has had a tangible impact on how we see the world. We  wind up living in “filter bubbles” – personalised information ecosystems or digital echo chambers – that insulate us from views of the world that do not accord with ours. The Habermasian idea of a public sphere has been displaced by a collection of privately owned spaces (walled gardens) that we know as social media.

So how will this networked digital image shape future photography? One possibility is to try and create a digital public sphere which would endeavour to recover some of the public functions that social media have displaced. Light Paths is one attempt to do this.

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