This is made possible by the junction between
traditional photography in its most recent, digital metamorphosis, and
the algorithmic opportunities for user impelled, dynamic image processing
offered by the computer. It is the multiple variations of programming which,
by endlessly recombining a series of images, add a new dimension of meaning
and poetry transcending that which exists within the individual pictures
Digital photography has become a serious competitor for film. An enormous
choice of excellent quality cameras is available. The use of digital equipment
has become commonplace in the professional sphere, overcoming the initial
reserve of many photographers. In many cases the quality offered is akin
to that of film. While analogical photography may have a timbre, a grain
of its own, many artists have adopted digital photography for the particular
advantages that it offers.
Indeed, measured in terms of quantity of pixels, the brag and bench mark
for measuring the capacity of digital cameras, professional models are
approaching the finesse of film. In terms of printing, the high definition
available, together with the development of high quality printers, is making
darkrooms obsolete. Regretfully for those of us enamoured with orangy darkness,
peering into the bottom of the development basin for the sudden appearance
of the image.
And adieu to getting rid of the very last speck of dust on the negative,
the bane of printing! In our speed orientated epoch, having to wait for
chemistry, trial by error, trashing imperfect prints are things of the
past. (The critics of digital photgraphy will remark that the problem of
dust has been transferred to SLR cameras, where each lens change carries
the risk of dust particles settling on the CCD, leaving an identical trace
on each photograph taken...)
Fundamentally, the entire process from picture to print being computer
based gives the photographer control, autonomy and ease in her work.
Yet… if the purpose of digital photography is to simply replicate
what has been done before on film, then we divest ourselves of a world
of creative, conceptual, intellectual possibilities. The transfer of the
darkroom onto the computer opens up a wide array of image processing possibilites
via the use of Photoshop and similar applications.
What used to be done with difficulty and sleight of hand in the darkroom,
via the direct manipulation of light, each error meaning starting over,
can now be done with ease. Today's errors are banished by a simple "Control-Z".
One shudders to think of the media manipulation tricks that the KGB darkroom
goblins would have been able to pull if they had had Photoshop. Indeed,
today, their successors do not hesitate to do the same...
Nonetheless, the final objective is a single photographic image, to be
printed or projected. The computer as display device opens other doors...
What is novel is the originality of the computer as display engine, capable
of composing pictures "on the fly", thus allowing the development
of new narrative possibilities.
Programming, the encoding of a script, allows a picture to develop its
own dynamic discourse. Malleable pixels let their poetry be expressed via
an interactive relationship established with the observer. New horizons
are opened up to visual perception. Instead of being a passive spectator "over
the photographer's shoulder", the computer allows one to play an active,
immersive role within the matter and meaning of the picture.
Interactive photographs serve to question the status of the picture itself.
As far back as humanity has been a creative, cultural creature, she has
decorated the walls surrounding her. This was true in Lascaux, and in the
Sistine Chapel. Today, everyone, or almost everyone, hang pictures on their
walls. Interactive pictures challenge the inert nature of the traditional
recorded scene, whether a painting or a photograph. It goes beyond the
linear nature of film in the sense that individual frames are strung together
in a sequential order. Thus, allowing the viewer to engage in interactive
dialogue with a work, that goes beyond passive critique or interpretation,
signifies a fundamental break in relation to the traditional tenets of
Interactive photography allows the observer to delve randomly - or in a
more organised manner - into the fragmentary instants of sucessive photographic
views. Time and Space are deconstructed, disordered, and reassembled in
accordance with the probing of the observer. Each unique instant is in
a state of racing recomposition within a continuum of simultaneity, where
each instant is in collision with its peers.
The meaning of the picture is transformed by unexpected juxtapositions
and permutations which destabilise the photographic reproduction of reality.
The Absolute fraternizes with the Arbitrary: the initial, objective photographic
recording becomes a zone in which the irrational artifices constructed
within the fabric of the picture by interaction between programme and viewer
allow the human spirit to find an echo for its cares.
Photography has always been a borderline case. Border between the real
and recorded, via the optical link which operates between the subject photographed,
and the (digital) emulsion. Border between objective and subjective, where
the camera obscura takes in dispassionately what the painter’s hand
and mind inevitably appropriate within the boundaries of that person’s
psychology and technical ability. Or between making a reproduction of what
is real, and rendering the mind’s eye.
But the most passionate of borders is the most elusive for human perception:
freezing the "now", that ever disintegrating presence that is
so wafer thin between expectation for the future and memory of the past.
Photography breaks with previous forms of expression by its capacity to
slice that “now” out of time and freeze it for always.
But one can also see in this quest for "now" a certain tyranny.
Why this instant, and not an other? The same applies to space: though it
contains infinite possibilities, at any particular moment it may only be
occupied by a single, unique artifact. Or illuminated in a single, particular
Using interactive photography, multiple occupations of space and time can
be set in motion, in an armature of simultaneity. The techniques that are
put to play in Landscopes, using algorithmic routines to confront a succession
of “nows” within a single picture, allow a greater understanding
of the genus loci, and our relationship to it.