Featured post

Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice: Online Course Starting April 27th 2022

  Sign up to my new series of talks on Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice .  Starts on Ap...

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Faces, Faces Everywhere

Welcome back, slightly late, to the Blog. 

I stumbled across these images on Lightroom Mobile earlier this week. They automatically sort the images you have into categories through some kind of facial/tonal/profiling recognition algorithm. 

So above we have my aunt, then Juliana Beasley's brilliant Lapdancer polaroids, a Cranach portrait, Nicolo Degorgis, my daughter, and so on. And the feature isn't even turned on, it just does it automatically for me, bless. 

So there you have it, images generated from some strange coalescence of archive, analog, imaging, algorithms and social media.  I rather love it, with the little heads at the top and then the portraits below. I want to embrace it because it looks nice. Which is so superficial it isn't true, but then that's photography all over.

A short while ago I was reading an article about smartphone images and the way in which their algorithms merge images. It was an experiment where the same image was repeatedly rephotographed by a phone and gradually it changed from the original image into a blank single coloured plane. 

It's an experiment that exemplifies alot of social media, of how it works and how the liking, the metrics, the algorithms move images away from being entities in their own right into a kind of flow (Aiden White wrote about this - and thank you Max Pinckers for pointing me in that direction) that changes both our attention to images and how we make and understand them. 

The dilemma, which is what Max Pincker's work is all about, is how can we recognise that flattening,liquifying  affect so that we can escape it. And we don't really know if we can do that. How can you make images that go beyond stereotype, cliche and trope when that is basically what photography is all about. And what happens when you do? Do you simply make a new trope? Is a contemporary art trope of holding a boulder or having a blue dot on an image, or sticking a few bits of string between images, or having somebody pose awkwardly in a studio any better than a photojournalistic trope of a crying mourner at a funeral, or a tourist trope of a lovely, decorative window, or,or...?

What exactly is the point of it all?

I don't know, but it's what I'm writing about for Witness. I think I still won't know at the end. 

And Lightroom Mobile? The basic problem now is I want to photograph things, or import images, so they get sorted by Lightroom Mobile and I have a nice, new collection of recognised (they're not recognised by the way even though that's what we say) faces. 

No comments: