Photography and Representation in the 21st Century

A Philosophy

Photographs have many purposes and they record and represent the narratives of the everyday: Specific Experience, Special Occasion, and Significant Occurrence. Many of the images we snap are used for preservation so that we may keep and share our memories of the immediate past. Our identity, its weight and depth, is derived from our past, our ancestors, and our personal histories and experiences.

Our photographs used to be private or shared within one’s immediate family and with close personal friends. Now our photographs, our discourse, our conversation, everything we do, think, see, and feel can be shared instantly with everyone, everywhere, anytime, all the time. This has significantly altered our relationship to time and space, and the ways in which we interact socially. Everything shared today will be yesterday’s experience tomorrow. Yet it all lives in perpetuity, online, for anyone and everyone. Whether it is within the context of social media, a blog, or a web page, we are now sharing what was once personal and private with an audience of hundreds and thousands, if not millions of people.

Everyone now has a story to tell, or at the very least, something to say. Our lives have taken center stage. Much of what we share is in the form of the personal narrative: the experiences, feelings, and memories that constitute our lives. Photographs, video and social media posts are used to share important and not so important events, which are uploaded for anyone and everyone. Sharing experience in the 21st century is much different than it was, not so long ago, in the 20th century.

The Internet has exploded with information of all sorts. Now, significant world events commingle and vie for our attention along with the debris of mundane personal experience. Questions arise. How is relevant content constructed and understood within a system that allows anyone and everyone to participate? Moreover, how do we view and interpret important information along side the stories, experiences and posts by family, friends and the anonymous among us if everyone is talking at the same time?

Who is listening?

Consumer-generated content. Content out of context: multiple contexts become one as they converge within a single structure. New meaning is created spontaneously and without notice. Multiple conversations combine to express an unintentional set of considerations through the [strange] juxtaposition of my post after yours, or visa versa. Content without relationship.

The move from tethered computing to mobile (ubiquitous) computing is quickly transforming many of our daily activities, objects, and communications. And as such, the nature of experience has been radically transformed.

My intention is to use this space to explore and investigate how digital culture(s) shape and define the way in which we communicate, connect with one another, share experience, learn, and represent who we are, what we do, how we think about the world and our place in it. More importantly I am interested in (re)aligning my own relationship with this expanding universe. Simply, it is time I (re)think, (re)encounter, and (re)consider what I may have lazily learned to take for granted. I need to look anew at all of the imaging and communication tools and technologies I use (and those I complacently ignore for reasons unexplained), moving me to consider a more critical understanding and discernment of 21st century representation technologies and space(s). Stay tuned.

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