Week 9 Reading Log

Culture of Connectivity – Jose Van Dijck

From reading the introduction to this piece it is a few years out of date (2010), so I shall update the information where I can.

Jose Van Dijck is talking about the rise of images on social media as a method of expressing one’s self and sharing photos that you have taken. I remember reading an article about a man who was required by the FBI to take photos everywhere he went and to document his everyday life. He said it was irritating, stressful and exhausting to dedicate his time to such a trivial task. This was a number of years ago, and now people do this for fun. The rise social media sites such as; Facebook, Twitter, Flikr, Tumblr, Instagram etc. has allowed people to easily document everything that they do.

“Individuals articulate their identities as social beings by uploading photographs to document their lives” p. 2. These sites don’t just collate your information but archive it, and from that, can build an incredibly accurate profile of any person using them. As Dijck states, “Flickr does not simply enable but actively constructs connections between perspectives, experiences and memories” p. 2. Dijck mentions, “Hoskins’ theory on connective memory as part of a more general culture of connectivity – a culture where perspectives, expressions, experiences and productions are increasingly mediated by social media sites” p. 2.

His main argument of this piece is talking about his concept of the culture of connectivity. This is one application of uploading images instantly online to share, but there a number of other applications to instantaneous access to an audience or access to millions of images.

Culture of Connectivity 

He opens this subject by asking, “how ‘collective’ views, experiences and memory can be accounted for in terms of connectivity” p. 4.

And then comes on to something I mentioned earlier, “Flickr’s metadata and statistical analyses are not simply meant to track users’ preferences, but this information may be used in turn to stimulate users into engaging in particular group behaviour or group formation” p. 4. Social media sites are amazing and building a profile of a person or group based on, what they look at, for how long, if they share it with people and if so who etc. This data is powerful and is a double-edged sword. For one it is good! As a user, works and photographs you are likely to enjoy are promoted to you. You get more of the content that you want to consume based on what you have liked previously and your trends, eg. instagram’s discover page. However, this means you’re information is spread, making you an easier target for advertisers for example.

Collective Memory

This is an aspect of the proliferation of social media that I had not considered in depth. Everything on the internet is logged away and saved forever, archived. This is a fascinating concept to think about. Where archaeologists have been digging in remote parts of the world for knowledge of what the past was like, archaeologists of the future will be able to ‘cmd+F’ any information they need about the past.

It is also the best method of spreading information, for example, I’ve never been to America but,

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 16.38.29.png

that’s what it looks like.

In an odd way however, sites such as Flickr become almost mediators of content. Those that run the site, such as moderators and administrators, have the power to remove images as they please. This leads to the policing of images at the will of others and could force those uploading photos to control their creativity. For example, a lot of these picture sharing sites are not comfortable with sharing images of people naked. This could be positive for people sharing naked images of other maliciously, but for photographers appreciating the naked human form, their type of art may be rejected.

In Conclusion

Social media sites are perfect for sharing your own images with an audience and finding artwork that you enjoy as a consumer. They are also dangerous in that as a user of these sites, you are giving others your own information, even just viewing images can build a profile of yourself which people such as advertisers may be able to exploit for profit. However, overall the continued proliferation of social media sites are positive in photography for interacting with an audience, interacting with friends, for collating images, being inspired and having the ability to share with the world, creating a culture of connectivity.

Reading Log Week 7

Stuart Hall: The Work of Representation

I have studied Hall’s work previously, his reception theory which was related to representation, so I am interested to learn more about his work. I was not intending to include people in my work at all, but I have been considering a project that might include people so hopefully, this reading will help me with this endeavour.

As Stuart Hall says, “representation is the production of meaning through language”. I feel this summarises this reading.

He says that language shapes representation and representation is formed by category. To categorize something is to give it a named representation and this is shaped by the relationship, in this case, of a photos denotations. This could be composition, lighting, contrast, colour, lack of colour and subject. These signs convey a meaning that are in turn interpreted by the ‘reader’ of the image.

For my images, meaning will be interpreted through a number of specific denotations.

  • Each subject’s facial expression
  • The lyrics on each subject’s face
  • The colour I have used for each photo
  • The length away from the person’s face in the photo
  • The background of the image around the subject
  • The subject looking down the lens

The next Chapter is called:

SAUSSURE’S LEGACY

Hall opens with,
“For Saussure, according to Jonathan Culler (1976, p. 19), the production of meaning depends on language: ‘Language is a system of signs.’ Sounds, images, written words, paintings, photographs, etc. function as signs within language ‘only when they serve to express or communicate ideas. … [To] communicate ideas, they must be part of a system of conventions …’ (ibid.).” p. 16

Also adding,
“There was, he argued, the form (the actual word, image, photo, etc.), and there was the idea or concept in your head with which the form was associated.” p. 16

This was a theory that I learned in school, the signifier and what is signified, these are basically denotation (signifier) and connotation (signified). He talks about the relationship between the signifier and what is signified and says how in language, this link is permanent. I would agree with this. I would argue that as cultural signifiers develop and language develops, old signifiers meanings can change. Some stay the same, for example, the colour red signifying danger, but a lot of signifiers change as society does and the same signifier can mean different things to different people, for example;

Swasticka

This image has a lot of connotations to different people. For some, it is a symbol of new order, of taking control of their country, for some it a symbol or racism and oppression. These two opposite views come from the same simple signifiers, so I would agree with Saussure,

“the relation between the signifier and the signified, which is fixed by our cultural codes, is not – Saussure argued – permanently fixed. Words shift their meanings.” p. 18

Hall (p. 20) summarises Saussure’s theory, “the intentional theory reduced representation to the intentions of its author or subject. The constructionist theory proposed a complex and mediated relationship between things in the world, our concepts in thought and language.”

Hall goes on to talk about denotations and connotations (p. 23), and then on to discourse.

“Models of representation, […] ought to focus on these broader issues of knowledge and power.

Foucault used the word ‘representation’ in a narrower sense than we are using it here, but he is considered to have contributed to a novel and significant general approach to the problem of representation. What concerned him was the production of knowledge (rather than just mean- ing) through what he called discourse (rather than just language).”

 

In Conclusion

Representation is created by a number of factors used by the author of a photograph and how the reader of the image interprets these signifiers. Each aspect of a photo combines to make the photos meaning.

 

 

 

Reading Log Week 8

Lofi Rosa Menkman – A Vernacular of File Formats

Previously, I have edited photos to make them appeared glitched.

To achieve these effects was a process of photoshopping every little detail, whereas data-bending I believe, is a process of editing the data of an image to create effects similar to this.

Data-bending, as Lofi Rosa Menkman describes it, is a process of altering ‘key-aspects’ of an image to obscure its resolve. This can be done in so many ways as she shows.

  • Altering the dimensions of an image when opening it
  • Changing the RGBRGBRGB formation of pixels
  • Opening the data in Microsoft Word and reformatting it to fit this file format, then bringing this reformatted data into a photo editing software
  • Using different file formats repeatedly to change how in image works
  • etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portraits – Workshop

The Brief

Picking up your camera and shoot a series of portrait of your peer and of someone you don’t know, capturing different feelings:

  • Head and Shoulders
  • Close-up
  • Interacting

(All Photos are unedited)

1st Someone I know

Head and Shoulders:

DSC_2248

This photo is underexposed but is an alright headshot. The composition respects the rule of thirds, his eyes are on the dominant points of the image, and he is symmetrically framed.

DSC_2239

As this is a personal friend, the photo is taken in his bedroom. I wanted to give a personal effect to these photos as I am close friends with the subject.

DSC_2238

I have also attempted to utilise lighting to reflect the situation. The warm colours connote the intimacy of the photo and the smile the subject has. This is a kind photo of a welcoming subject and the lighting reflects this.

DSC_2249

This was the photo I attempted to get of my subject doing an activity. He is playing a game, as this is a familiar setting, but it is not a good portrait of this. For one, the game or anything relating to the game is not included in the photo and for two, the photo is a bit blurry. I did not do enough to compensate for his movements with my shallow depth of focus.

2nd Someone I don’t know

This next subject was my friend’s flatmate. She likes cooking so I took her portraits in the kitchen.

DSC_2260

The first portrait I took of her was an extreme close-up. This best shows her emotions of polite confusion. She was not expecting to have her photograph taken and so was not ‘ready’ for it.

DSC_2266

For the next photo of this subject, I altered the white balance to reflect my relationship with this person. The subject’s facial expression is not anger, but not greeting either.

For this reason, I stopped taking her photo at this point.

In Conclusion

There is a lot to consider when taking someone’s portrait: composition, location, lighting and trying to capture the subject’s feelings. If the photo is just of them, all aspects of the image should convey the subject’s emotions and the relationship between the subject and photographer.

Updated Idea

Featured

I have decided that I will instead do this ‘text effect’ for my project

This text effect edit was a private project of mine but I have realised it is a perfect medium to convey my photography project. I will be taking portraits of musicians I know or friends to whom music means a great deal, and interviewing them on how music has helped or affected their lives.

One key idea that I am keen to pursue is asking each subject for a song that they love or means something to them, a significant song, and then using the lyrics or sheet music for that song to create this effect.

Researching this idea

I have found a number of variations of this same idea that all look slightly different.

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 11.14.44

This first portrait is interesting in its difference to my own photo. It does not have the layering or depth that I have gone to, but it coats the subject closer to a tattooed man. This photo reminds me a Diane Arbus photo recommended to me when I decided for my project to take this turn.

Diane Arbus Circus

This is also similar to the next photo edit I looked at in relation to this new project.

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 11.16.04

These two photos have something that I want to capture in my project that I did not do in my original test shot, direct interpolation. This makes the person in the photo appear to be addressing the viewer of the photo. This adds layers of meaning in terms of representation and gaze and is a feature of these photos I want to carry into my own work.

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 11.17.14

This shot of John Lennon is quite different to the other photos in the series and provides an interesting concept. His face is only half made up of words and half his own, unedited face. The effect is less his face being made up of words, and more his face can be seen in the words. Again, this shot uses direct interpolation and has the effect of making the words seem more directed at the viewer.

These last few shots are black and white, the first is not, but I believe this lack of colour gives more meaning to the words and creates a better overall effect.

In Conclusion

I am going to continue this line of photography for my project as I believe it better relates music’s effect on people and it is a line of photography that I am interested in, editing to make an impossibility, possible.

New Photograph Idea

I have had another idea of a photo that would visualise music. It is based on an edit I completed a few months ago.

Text Face - Clean Shirt

My idea is to have this same effect, but instead of words about cinema, to instead have either words about music, or to have musical characters such as crochets, musical bars, treble clefs, bass clefs etc.

I would take a portrait of someone who is devoted to music, to whom music means a lot, and add this effect that I have tested on this shot of me but with musical notes. This would show how important music is to that person that it makes them up. They are made of music.

Editing in Camera Raw

After shooting in just jpeg’s, I moved onto shooting in RAW. This is a photo file format that colours each pixel rather than in blocks of one colour, as a jpeg does. This means the photo will never decrease in quality as a jpeg will when saved and re-saved. It also means that the file is a larger size, but is better for editing. This is Adobe’s Raw editor, ‘Camera Raw CC’. I used the histogram of the image to adjust the image.

 

Record 1 Orig
Original, un-edited photo

 

Editing the photo

I began with exposure. This image was over-exposed by around a factor of 1.08 so I used the slider to reduce the exposure using the histogram to check by how much to get a correct exposure.

I next boosted the contrast slightly, just to add a bit of depth to the image. I just eyed this myself.

I then reduced the highlights in the image (mainly on the right side of the record where the natural lighting hit) and boosted the shadows slightly.

After that, I added to the whites and reduced the blacks in the image, this assisted the boost of contrast I adjusted earlier.

Finally, I turned the vibrancy and saturation down whiles adding some clarity to compensate. This was because the other alterations I made to the image boosted the saturation so I reduced this factor to compensate.

In Conclusion

I tried to get the best exposure I could whilst shooting, this is not a tool to fix photos, but to get a better exposure within reason. To make major edits I would use photoshops tools, but to fix small issues and save photos that would potentially have been unusable, Camera Raw CC is a great programme.