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December 11, 2006

[iDC] Introduction and Blinks & Buttons


Networked Photography

I'm Sascha Pohflepp, currently based in Berlin, where I spent the last couple of years at the University of the Arts' (UDK) visual communication department (some of the work from that time can be found at http://www.pohflepp.com). I also frequently contribute to the blog We-Make-Money-Not-Art.com and occasionally work with the Mediamatic foundation in Amsterdam.

My most recent work is a two-fold thesis project, titled "Between Blinks & Buttons". It is a try to look at photography as an increasingly connected process and the implications which arise from that – both for the individual but also for the process of remembering and the camera as an object in itself. Quoting from the introduction:

"Photography has become a networked process. It no longer ends with pasting putting prints into an album. Instead, making them public through services like Flickr is rapidly becoming one of the main ways how we treat our visual memories. The photographic process extends from preserving a moment to an act of telecommunication, with numerous implications on how we perceive reality, how we make our memories and how we create a narrative from it.

The camera itself has become a networked object and through the fusion of the snapshot-camera and the mobile phone, this object will even become more part of our everyday lives. Cameras always have been recorders for their contexts, essentially equipped with a light sensor to capture a visual representation and a pressure sensor for the person who decides which moment will be saved – the button. Furthermore, digital photos come with a great amount of data attached to them as so-called EXIF-tags. These include a multitude of precise information about technical aspects of the shot, the make of the camera, how it was held and when the image was taken.

For almost any given moment since early 2004, it is possible to find a photo on the web which was taken in the exact same second. For every of my photos that I myself have a memory of and an emotional connection to, I can see someone else's moment. I can see what happened in another part of the world while I was doing what I remember when I see it. In that sense, cameras become networked buttons that create a link between two people through the simple fact that they did the same thing simultaneously: press a button. The cameras create a visual trace of it, with time as a reference."

This resulted in two installations – firstly "Blinks", a prism sitting on a kind of light-table that actually refracts the ray of time which metaphorically runs through every photo into all the other moments that had been simultaneously captured in various places all over the world.

Secondly, "Buttons", a camera which intentionally boils down the photographic apparatus to its essential button. Once this button has been pressed, no picture is taken (the person will remember the moment, though), but a networked device inside starts to look for photos from that very same second. It might take some time, but eventually, a photo will show up on the camera's display.

Interestingly, in both pieces, the photos never feel random since the user shares a moment with that other person who took the photo. At a recent presentation, someone called the whole process "momentograph" which I found very fitting and beautiful. Please feel free to let me know what you think of all this, the website mentioned above also has some more information and videos.

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Posted by jo at December 11, 2006 01:58 PM