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From reading the introduction to this piece it is a few years out of date (2010), so I shall update the information where I can.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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Log Week 6

Analog to digital: the Indexical Function of Photographic Images

Digital photography turns photos from objects into data which makes them easier for editing. I have only ever worked with digital photos, having been a digital editor before taking photos of my own. This does come on to an interesting topic which I must consider in my work. Previously, when seeing an image, whether the subjects were constructed/set-up or not, you knew you were looking at reality, with digital photography and editing this is skewed.

As the article argues, “With digital technology, it is arguably easier to edit and create images of objects that never existed in reality, thus casting doubt on the reliability of photography’s connection to the real.”

I will be incorporating image editing into my final photos as I believe it is another key element to add meaning to a photo. I would argue most (to all) photos that are being used now for any purpose have been edited to some degree.

Another important aspect of digital photography is that it means a photo can be stored in multiple places and can be sent instantly. If the physical photo is needed it can be printed out but with everything moving online, newspapers, peoples blogs etc. digital photography allows for the immediate sharing of photos. The only issue with this I can see is ‘fakes’. Newspapers have been known to share images that are in fact lies, just to try and break the story before other newspapers do.

The article goes on to talk about other applications of digital photography. One I hadn’t even considered which is scientific analysis. With digital technologies, it is possible to enhance photos, for example, boost the exposure and see darker sections of an image.

Reading Log Week 5 + Photo Progression

Up to this point the only controlled lighting I have used has been using studio lighting, the rest of the time I have had to adjust to my surroundings.

David Präckel: Basics Photography Lighting

Control over lighting means the photographer is able to achieve the exact effect they desire. For example, if they wanted to capture a large depth of field they would need to use a small aperture and this reduces the amount of light hitting the sensor, controlling light means the exact settings the photographer wants to capture are achieved (see Photo progression post Week 5 for more).

Präkel begins by introducing the Flashgun. It is light, fits on top of the camera with the ‘hot shoe’, and is able to create bounced or diffused light to suit the photographer’s needs. Some downsides are, “the exposure is only correct for a set distance, which can produce dark backgrounds and overexposed foregrounds” (Präkel, 2007). Some flashguns can be external, connected by a wire or wirelessly, to allow the photographer full control over their shots light.

Präkel goes on to mention ‘guide numbers’ which is a concept I am still trying to understand. He says, “there are three key specifications for any flashgun – guide number (a measure of flash power for a given film speed), recycling time (the speed to recharge between flashes) and coverage (the angle that the flash beam covers).”

“Guide number = aperture x distance

To work out the aperture: measure the distance to the subject (use your lens scale). Divide the guide number by this distance to get the f-stop. Guide number of 45 (GN) Flash to subject distance is 8m (FD) Aperture is unknown (f) f = GN/FD 45/8 = f/5.6

To work out the flash distance: divide the guide number by working aperture to get the flash to subject distance. Guide number of 45 (GN) Flash to subject distance is unknown (FD) Aperture is f/11 (f) FD = GN/f 45/11 = about 4m”

 

I began by setting my camera to the window light (turns out setting a correct exposure was too low) and then adding my flashgun to my camera.

DSC_2816

This turned out to be exposed correctly on my subject but underexposed outside. To fix this I did my settings again, with the light meter indicating the shot was over-exposed. Adding the flashgun again I took a much better photo of my subject with correct exposure throughout.

DSC_2826

Präkel then talks about flash synchronisation. This is important when using cameras with a manual shutter as if the shutter speed is too fast, only some of the image will be affected by the flash. The limit on the Nikon D7000 is a 250th of a second.

He also touches on how the flash duration can affect how a photo looks. Instead of having a very quick shutter speed, the light being so fast has the effect of freezing a moving object whilst having a manageable shutter speed.

This comes on to rear curtain photography

DSC_2895

This is achieved by having more than one flash with a relatively long exposure, one at the start and one at the end, in a dark environment. Using the example of someone running, with one flash at the start and on at the end, an initial outline of where the subject starts is formed. The second flash is the stronger outline of the two and motion blur is behind them. (This is seen better in this image);

First and second curtain sync

The book goes on to talk about the on-camera flash. This flash is unflattering and can lead to red-eye and, if using a wide angle lens, can lead to hot spots of light. The on-camera flash also only goes in one direction and gives a very flat frontal light. But it is good as a fill light in an already light situation.

Reading Log Week 3

Stuart Hall – The spectacle of the other

I have studied Stuart Hall briefly during my media studies GCSE and A-Level’s, with a focus on his ‘Reception theory’. This is the idea that any audience member/ viewer will have a different ‘viewing’ of a text based on criteria applying to that viewer, a preferednegotiated or oppositional reading. For instance, a younger viewer would have a prefered reading to Peppa Pig (2004-2012) as this show is aimed at children, whereas an adult may have a negotiated reading to the show as it may be intellectually beneath them. Apart from this, I have not studied Stuart Hall as a film/media academic.

The chapter introduces first the theme, representation, and with that, stereotyping and difference. ‘Positive stereotyping’ and ‘difference in representation’ are both going to be discussed, and this looks to be a helpful read for the tasks this week:

Task:

Picking up your camera and shoot a series of portrait of your peer and of someone you don’t know, capturing different feelings:
. Head & shoulders
. Close-up
. interacting

Consider:
. composition (rules of thirds)
. Location (placement of the subject in relation to the background)
. Lighting (where is the best light for your subject and the mood you want to achieve)
. Subject interaction (Try to catch elements of the subject personality)

Tips:
Talk with your subject to make them feel at ease, try not to invade your subject space. Work in a team to keep safe. Be respectful at all time. Offer a copy of selected images to your subject. Explain clearly why you need to take pictures.

This task is new to me, and having to consider representation also is a daunting task, but I feel it will develop my skills as a photographer.

Hall goes on to talk about how one photo can have many meanings, many connotations. I feel it necessary to tie in my prior knowledge of Hall’s work, his reception theory, that different audience will get different meanings from the same photo based on their previous experience. Hall discusses a prefered meaning p.228 which is a highly discussed theory in filmmaking. I was reading a theory yesterday on the ‘auteur’ theory, that once a film, or in this case a photo, is published, it is no longer for the creator to decide its meanings. That the creator is allowed to have their prefered meaning of a text, but that anything in their work can be re-interpreted and argued over. (I can’t for the life of me find this source).

The ‘representation of difference’ is then put into the context of Linford Christie being talked about, the day after winning a gold medal, in terms of his penis size. This links race to sexuality in a negative way, turning an athlete into an object. (p.230) Hall talks about how it is difficult to represent the physical prowess of athletes without carrying additional messages of gender and or sexuality, as both use the human body to identify.

“Meaning depends on the difference of opposites.” (Hall 1997; 235)

What I think he is trying to say here is that breaking set conventions, e.g. Carl Lewis in high-heels for a Pirelli advertisement, is powerful because it breaks stereotypical norms of black masculinity and athleticism.

 

Reading Log Week 2

John Berger: Ways of seeing Ch.1

Immediately John Berger hits on a similar topic to Ingledew last week, that an image is a captured memory or event, however, Berger also strikes a point that goes beyond photography. He talks about the different meanings, different connotations, that one subject can have and how they change over time, giving the example of fire in the middle ages and now. He doesn’t mention any more factors that change the perspective of a subject, other than time. For instance geography, socio-economical background, age etc. (Stuart Hall’s reception theory talks on this point further, 1973).

Berger goes onto photo reproducing of famous pieces of art and how this does not devalue the art but creates a new interpretation of that piece of art. He then goes on to discuss photo reproduction in succession. Film. This is interesting to me as I study film, but also as I have an interest in triptychs and/or polyptychs, a series of three or many painted panels telling a story. Their succession tells the story, not just the contents of each panel and this allows for movement and further interpretation.

Further on Berger talks about captioning. This is another method at a photographer/artists hands to add meaning and layer in interpretation to a piece of work.