367MC – Critical Rationale

Final module of my Photography course has been a great challenge and grand finale of these four years. It was beyond exciting to create the whole project from the beginning till the end. Actually, it does feel like that now, as it is almost over, but returning to the very beginning and seeing myself making mistakes, advancing, getting excited about the first success, then panicking again – is… Still beyond exciting! As I am used to working on my own, I felt pretty comfortable planning various steps of the project (ideas, resources, trips, etc) and not being dependent on somebody else’s help. However I was receiving it when it was needed. Personal tutorials have definitely been like breaths of fresh air to me; especially at the beginning, when I was struggling with shaping my idea or with structuring my further actions. That’s when I’ve learnt that sometimes it is useful to go with the flow, not to be afraid of simply doing, rather than concisely planning things out. Or better be said that plan needs to be followed, but it is perfectly fine for it to be flexible and change along the way. It took time to trust myself with that, but this way I’ve definitely been more open to experimenting and researching. My research started from exploring the concept of beauty, then revolved around the definition of nature and cultural footprints, and then finally embraced the concept of British Landscape that encapsulates it all. It felt distinctly rewarding finally revealing the essence of all the long-hours research and putting it in the shape of my artist statement.

Another personal revelation was working with the medium format film camera that I’ve never shot on before. I enjoyed this completely different feel and approach to the art of photography and I will definitely be continuing working with both medium format and film camera in the future. Yes, it does take a lot more effort, but it taught me to highly value the moment that is about to be frozen and spend more time considering the perfect way to capture it (rather than almost unconsciously pressing the shutter button)

As for my final piece I can sincerely say that I am very happy with the way it turned out, although I had some issues with its presentation at first (that are further reflected in my sketchbook). But luckily I did get couple of very useful advices and resolved those difficulties choosing the best possible options for my installation in given circumstances. I believe that my final body of work succeeded to highlight this balance between careful nature-taming techniques and the preservation of cultural heritage within the British landscape; I also hope that the viewer will find my photographic observations interesting or, maybe, even entertaining; and will leave the exhibition with an enhanced appreciation of the uniqueness of British (and not only!) landscape.

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366MC – Critical Rationale

My work is initially based on my interest in observing people, appreciation of diversity of characters and mini scenarios that occur in front of our eyes every day. Places that I particularly believe to be most demonstrative in this sense – are market places. In fact my idea derived the other way round, as when choosing the topic I have first distinguished that I really enjoy photographing markets, wherever I travel; but only after self-evaluation I revealed the reason I am interested in this topic.

Throughout several months I have been travelling around various markets in the UK. So far my destinations have been London, Birmingham, Brighton and Coventry. After every market visited, my ideas have been slightly changing; I was spotting correlations between the crowd and physical locations of the market, trying to trace a particular typology, outline categories to fit these places in.

At the end I understood that correlations can be made, details can be spotted, but as my main area of interest remains to be people that visit these markets – there is only one generalization to be made, as there is one thing all these diversified crowds have in common. Each and every person to be found there has made its contribution to the celebration of consumerism. 

Therefore my main idea is in showing how characters so diverse can be united by two simple , but strong forces – lack and desire (J. Lacan).

These eyes that are in constant search of something to acquire or filled with temporary bliss of joy after doing so; freezing these moments – that’s how I am mostly trying to transmit the atmosphere of markets. I am framing my shots as close-up portraits of strangers, to expose their essence to the viewer and for him not to be distracted by clutterness of the surrounding.

To make this perception even more tangible I am to enhance my body of work by the way I am planning to present it. My installation will include wide range of images from markets I have and will visit. They are to be presented in vertical two-sided sets (rows) hanged and connected by strings. This way the viewer will be capable to “merge” with the crowd and find himself “present” at this collective image of an abstract (see – ideal..) market. To explore each image, viewer will need to be moving around the installation or even through it, leaning or getting on his tiptoes. It is important that each piece of installation is being assigned the same value. The main idea of installation is in its vibrant versatility but at the same time wholeness that derives from collected bits and pieces.

The work I have done has been nothing but pure inspiration to me. Especially the fact that I had to undertake self-directed analysis of my areas of interest to derive to the topic I am exploring at the moment and that I really enjoy. Installation idea has been creatively challenging, but all this only made me more confident in what I want to achieve at the end of my project, to which I am looking forward.

 

 

201 MC module diary: My Professional Experience Journey

When I started my professional experience journey within the framework of this module I never expected that it is going to take me through such range of different experiences. Even before the start of this module I have been working in different nightclubs here and then so if I wanted I could have perfectly made the majority of hours from this activity. However fortunately  after a certain point, don’t know when and why exactly this struck me, I understood I want to get more from this and this is when my immersion to a completely new life started.

1.

Working at IGLU NIGHTCLUB

Starting from 12 April  every Saturday

/2 days: 1st – taking pics; 2nd –  editing/

IGLU risk assesment

I was and I am still working at IGLU nightclub, but now regularly – taking pictures every Saturday.  They have launched the new night on 12th of April and it was my first time shooting promo video that I was to edit afterwards. Before that I have done this work seriously only once and from the footage shot by another person. That was a promo video for event organisation International Love (http://youtu.be/zq1K3YUxBHY) last summer. So this time was even more challenging and gave me insight in different area of my interest, which I obviously have a long way ahead to explore and improve in. What I also like about regular work at a nightclub is that it is easier to communicate with people and to gain their trust as a photographer when they see you every time they come to a club. You know them, they know you, they are more opened and if you are lucky enough some of them might offer you to depict them in out of nightclub ambience. There is no limit to perfection, so I am still enjoying working there and improving the eccentricity of my pictures. However I understand that I don’t want and actually physically can’t build my career just on this type of photography.

Promo video:

Examples of pictures:

2.

YOUR LIVING CHOICE placement

Period between 2.04.14 and the end of the module. (Approx. 2 weeks)

/Precise times vary depending on when the agency needs me to take pictures of a particular property/

YLC risk assesment

My another idea for placement came to me very randomly. I was looking for a place to stay next year and literally every time I was opening the advertisement the photos of the property was just horrific if they were actually posted. Some people apparently think that their narrating skills make the photographical addition to their posts unnecessary. And if in case of private landlords it is understandable, I count it to be unforgivable for housing agencies. That’s how I started to work with Your Living Choice housing agency (http://www.yourlivingchoice.co.uk). I contacted the owner directly and luckily his office is not too far from my house. There wasn’t any negotiation really – he was happy to accept my offer. And since then I have been travelling around Coventry taking pictures of different houses, nicely retouching them and fitting in the collage that we have decided to be a template. I have also helped to slightly improve the logo for his different project. logo3   I really enjoyed what I was doing in this case – guess because it was my initiative from the very beginning. I wanted the houses to look extremely cozy and appealing for the viewer. As if I was looking at them myself at the gumtree. However sometimes students typically didn’t want to clean their houses for the sake of photography and advertising, so I had to retouch pictures from the last year and stitch them together the same way. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted because some of the pictures again were not nice quality, were taken from the angles I wouldn’t have taken them from and usually were taken with phone camera. However I tried my best to edit them in a way to get  the most appealing outcome.

Examples of pictures:

However apart from my own preferences I obviously had to meet my employer’s expectations – for example when I was taking pictures of his office he asked me to focus the attention on particular things and to shoot it from different angles so that he can choose the best photographs after.

  YLC Freddy's office     This placement gave me a better understanding of relationships between the employer and employee. As well as it immersed me in a more official atmosphere in comparison with the work in a nightclub.  That’s when I have finally vividly considered the line between the work and casual relationships, which I think the earlier the better to understand and adjust to. As in building your connections not only your technical and creative side that matters but the appropriate way of treating people you approach as well.

OVERSEAS PLACEMENTS

3.

SHELL PLACEMENT

21-25 April

/21, 22 – Taking pictures at Oil Blending Plant in Torzhok; 23 – Editing process

24 – Taking pictures at 100th Shell retail site in Moscow; 25 – Editing process/

CF WP02 – Shell

Shell Wp03 form

My two next placements I did back in my hometown – Russia.  Thanks to my father who provided me with this unique opportunity to have an insight in a completely different field – industrial photography. I have spent two days in Torzhok – small town in Russia where a huge Shell Lubricant Oil Blending Plant is located. For me it seems like a one time in life opportunity. I was supervised by one of the workers and fortunately understood at least 50% of how things work there. Obviously on a very shallow level.  Shell lubricants blending plant is one of the largest lubricants plant in Shell, and the only Lubricants Plant built in Russia by an international company. All staff on this plant – including General manager – are Russians. Additional challenge was to take pictures wearing all this protective gear – hard hat, coverall, hard boots, goggles. However I didn’t have a choice as no exceptions are made. Two weeks earlier the plant was visited by Bloomberg filming crew who had to wear the same personal protective equipment as I did.

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Despite the lack of understand of the environment I was depicting, this experience taught me another key thing – my role as a photographer is to be very flexible and adjustable to the surrounding. I have to be able to pick the depicted out of context and present it in a way to impress the ones aware of this context and the ones not.

Example of pictures:

Continuing a short-term placement with Shell I visited the 100th Shell retail site in Moscow. The scope of the place was nothing compared to what I’ve seen in Torzhok so I focused more on details that might characterize this ambience. Shell logos wherever I saw them, burst of colors, visitors and workers of the petrol station.

Eventually I got very commercial photographs, which I was entirely satisfied with. As well as my employer. Commercial photography is another thing that I would like  to explore because I believe I have a good eye for details and even though I am not into spending hours and hours retouching model’s skin but I like spending time to get my sense of  perfection for this particular scene I depicted. According to agreement with Shell, all my pictures can be used by the company in internal and external communications.

Examples of pictures:

 

4.

OIL AND GAS ‘VERTICAL’ MAGAZINE PLACEMENT: CONFERENCE ‘ARTIFICIAL LIFT 2014’ in Moscow

14 – 19 April

/14, 15, 16, 17 – Taking pictures at the conference; 18, 19 – Editing process/

CF WP02 Oil and Gas conference

Oil and Gas Conference Wp03 form

My second placement overseas was also held in Moscow at the conference “Artificial Lift 2014”. I was taking pictures for Oil and Gas Magazine “Vertical” for four days and my job was to capture the speakers, the audience and simply of all the greatest minds.  Sometimes the greatest minds argued very passionately, which resulted in intense photographs.

Examples of pictures:

5.

SAVE THE CHILDREN placement

29 – 30 April

/29 – Taking pictures at the event; 30 – Editing process/

Save the Children risk assesment

My last placement I got through IEMS in Uni. I was covering the event hosted by the organization “Save the children” dedicated to 100th Birthday of one of their best UK fundraiser – Connie Sharman. The event wasn’t very big and lasted for just 2 hours. It was typical to the conference I was covering in Russia, but not that official and with the topics much more relatable to me. There I benefited not only by gaining the photographical experience, but also I discovered a lot more about the organization itself, which I wasn’t that aware of before.  They do amazing things and I wish one day I could collaborate with them.

Examples of pictures:

This made me think that photography is not only about getting better in your narrow career spectrum but also about expanding your knowledge about the world. It is listening to stories and then storytelling, although still leaving something for your own.

Overall I more than enjoyed the work I did in terms of this module and each placement gave me a very unique experience serving the investment for my future professional path. I never knew I could move that far from taking pictures in nightclubs and find myself on the roof of Shell oil blending factory. In this short period of time I gained more confidence in what I am doing than I have ever had. And I understood that the expression “the world of opportunities” is literally a whole WORLD, which is waiting for you to progress, communicate, move forward,  try new and eventually succeed being on its top.

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[P.S. Should be mentioned that for all of my UK placements I have registered as a freelancer for this module by submitting general  Wp01 form. Then for each of the UK placements I have filled the risk assessment forms; For each of the overseas placements I had filled separate Wp01, Wp02 and Wp03 forms.]

Picbod Exhibition’14

Idea

My initial idea for the final piece to be presented on the exhibition arised from the week 3 Picbod topic “Nude and Naked”. First I wanted to concentrate on the Male Nude and its underrepresentation. However when I started working on it, taking pictures, considering what exactly interests me in this topic, I slightly altered my idea and realised that even more I want to explore the nature of sexuality through series of both make and female nudes.

I have alwaysbeen intersted in this subject and I thought that this is a perfect opportunity to purposely try and immerse myself into this idea. This is my first directed attempt to explore the concept of sexuality and during the process I faced different kinds of issues and negotiations.

For some reason this topic is always considered to be very controversial and provocative although I refuse to agree with it. Why are we afraid to see or show something that beautiful and simple? I believe that it is mainly because we are pressured by vast majority of pretty shallow-minded society (pardon me) that claims that everything represented in a way we are not used to is provocation. But how can we get used to its representation if society opress any attempts to do it?

Probably the only reason to doubt the “normalisation” of depicting this topic, that sounds adequate to me is that maybe these moments are so simply beautiful only while shared between the two; So when sharing them with people who are not “invloved” we kind of depreciate its significance, because the concept of intimacy is basically opposes the concept of publicity.

In response to this – I believe that when it comes to art there is no such topic that should be restricted in exploring. Art is  meant to highlight the controversial ideas from different angles. It is all about the represntation.

So my main issue to consider was to find the balance and a way to show the intimacy to public saving its initial unique features and meaning.

Research and Inspiration

My main inspiration were works of Antoine D’Agata but I also researched some other works I found related to my subject of interest.

– French photographer whose works deal with sex, personal obsessions, darkness and other topics widely considered taboo. D’Agata’s works are always depicted “in motion” as if the subjects are not aware of being depicted. I think some of his images are also good example of how blur and motion romantisizes the rough reality of the presented by altering its representation (like in Thomas Ruff’s ‘Nudes’). I also believe that if his works were presented separately from each other (particularly I love the Vortex I grid below) , they wouldn’t work so well. It is all about storytelling; such a widely underrepresented topic should come in series of images for its gradual revelation.

It’s not how a photographer looks at the world that is important. It’s their intimate relationship with it.  – Antoine D’Agata

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“Vortex I, 2003”, 2.25 X 17 meters exhibited at Galerie VU, Paris/ Forüm für Fotografie, Kôln/ FOAM, Amsterdam, 2003/2004

In his works German photographer catching up on exploration of his sexual fantasies through series of images capturing simply exposed human body placed in different environments. Fokas was brought up in extremely religious environment, maybe that’s why for him it is more about sensual exploration without making any statements. Photographer doesn’t really care about the way his works will be interpreted and claims that he is happy to leave all the questions arised in reponse to his work to viewers’ conclusions.

British photographer at whose series “This Is Not Pornography” I looked as it is another way of exploring the subject of my interest. Behind his series of work lies completely different approach – he uses photo manipulation and “combines elements of the pornographic, theatrical and grotesque into a form that does not conceal it’s dislocation from realism”.

Obviously the main statement is in the title – “This Is Not Pornography”, but as it is explained in the discription of the series – “Each image examines a slightly different stance towards the subject matter”. So although the pictures are indeed linked between each other and are presented as a whole, the purpose of presentation of each of them is separetely examined in the brief placed below the work on Paul’s official website. Primarily it is about what we should consider pornography and our passive relationship with it.

  • Sarah Anne Johnson

Canadian photographer; in the work “Wonderlust” her main idea was not just to depict the intimacy in terms of photographing sexual intercourse in a particular way but to add some elements that will represent this special energy during the physical interaction. Through her photographic mashups she is trying to share this chemistry of connectedness of these moments. She has been photographing her subjects in different cities; some of them just let her do solo nudes, while others shared more private moments.

Working process

  • Equipment – I was shooting all the footage not in one day and some of the photographs included in the final piece were shot with my personal camera Canon 550D because Canon 5D II was all booked out at University Media Loan Shop. Therefore the quality of the images slightly differs, however I tried to eliminate the differences to a certain extent.
  • Appropriate lighting – One of the key points in my representation was the appropriate lighting. I thought that yellow uneven light of a table lamp(comparable to the romanticizing candle light) will help to transmit this late-night atmosphere, this intimate mystery of that moment when only half of the things are exposed to this soft light, while the rest remains in the shadow giving the viewer space to fantasise.
  • Concept – Exploring the sexuality and intimacy through the series of female and male nudes.
  • Final pictures – I went with the flow and both me and my sexual partner took part in image making. As I have mentioned previously it took me at least three nights to get all the images I wanted. Inspired by D’Agata’s work I have put them in a grid. However my first version I shared with fellow photographers turned out to be “too much”. It is not that I was afraid of how people can react or  of showing this level of exposure. It was just healthy criticism, which led me to develop my final piece a bit more.  Another version I produced was better, because I decided to shoot some footage which included close ups of different body parts which I wanted to show in all the intimacy and sensitivity. But this time the composition of the collage didn’t work that well. I was then proposed by my tutor to maybe make the pictures seem “lost in the black background” – to add even to the atmosphere of privacy. I tried to expand the dark background and vignette each picture but it didn’t look as good though. Because my pictures are already pretty dark and vignetting takes the information from them so the depicted is becoming way too vague and I didn’t want it. So the best version I came with is to still put the chosen images in the grid but to randomly arrange them (as opposed to the grid when they are placed in 3*3 accurate table) leaving dark background to feel the gaps in-between.

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    version 1

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    version 2

Final piece for exhibition

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This is my final piece of work that I decided to present at the exhibition. I decided to make a big (A2) satin print to display it on the wall with my artist statement:

Anastasia Shub

I see you. You see me.

Exploring male and female sexuality through series of portraits. Exposure and closure – two main concepts I wanted to consider in my work. Nowadays when boundaries are so vague somehow we still manage to regret simply beautiful and beautifully simple things.

Well I don’t want to regret them. So I see you. You see me.

Digital version

As part of our final submission we were asked to produce the digital version of our work as well. For this I made a short video. I didn’t want to show a lot more pictures  than I actually included in my work for the sake of video extension. So instead I included a bit of video parts I filmed during the process and mixed them with some images. I wanted to create a particular atmosphere still so I used the technique, which in Russian is called the effect of “25th frame”. Unfortunately I haven’t found the word that can describe this type of manipulating the frames within the video in English (apart from subliminal message), so I will just try to explain what it is in my words. Basically it is a very controversial method of influencing viewer’s subconscious by inserting so-called 25th frame in the video sequence. The idea is that human’s sight can only distinguish/perceive 24 frames in a second (although this depends on the sharpness of edges and speed of motion of objects on the screen). Therefore this additional frame, which is shown for less than 1/24 of a second supposedly bypassing the consciousness and directly affects human’s subconscious. This is not an officially proved phenomena but a lot of studies were conducted in relation with it and it has its followers. I find this idea very interesting and od course it is just an inspiration, which means I won’t really replicate it in all details. But I wanted to make it look similar. To show it all very dynamically and covertly in a way. Just recreate this feeling when people look at something they are afraid to be caught looking at – fast glance, then look away. And again. And again.

[This is a private video. For password feel free to inbox me.]

Conclusion

Overall I am satisfied with my final result, both artefact to be presented at the exhibition and  its digital version. I more than enjoyed working on my subject of interest and has discovered a lot about myself. For me it has been one of the most interesting and enthralling modules so far; it taught me that there are countless  approaches of depicting human’s body and it is important to develop yourself in any possible directions to elaborate this precious art of observing and capturing one from different angles.

Key Reading: The Shock of Inclusion by Clay Shirky. Response

Clay Shirky in his paper analyses which effects may the Internet have on society in global context. Why may? Haven’t we already heard all the pros and cons of the Web so many times from so many other articles?

And this is what makes this particular paper special – Shirky refuses to admit that we can already see the whole picture. It has been less than a decade since the invention which came like a thunderbolt and striked our worlds, minds, way of communication, etc. His point is that there is a lot more to it, which we won’t be able to see, because by the time this effect will reach its apogee we will all be long gone. As an example he cites the effect of scientific discoveries on the society (particularly “The Invisible College, the group of natural philosophers who drove the original revolution in chemistry in the mid-1600s”):

The members of the Invisible College did not live to see the full flowering of the scientific method, and we will not live to see what use humanity makes of a medium for sharing that is cheap, instant, and global (both in the sense of ‘comes from everyone’ and ‘goes everywhere.’) We are, however, the people who are setting the earliest patterns for this medium. Our fate won’t matter much, but the norms we set will.

What we are witnessing now – are the effects that the use of the Internet has on separate individuals, which we categorise and then happily jump to conclusion.  Of course that does not make these effects less true but as I have already mentioned – there is a lot more to it.

Therefore what we can do now – is as we know that the whole perception of so many things is changing (e.g. information distribution and its overflow; sense of identity; new level of participation), is to pay attention to all these little negative matches we are already spotting and to try and find the ways to eliminate or at least control them for the sake of future generations.

Key Reading: Seeking – How the brain hard-wires us to love Google – Emily Yoffe. Response

After this article I guess I got a better understanding of what I previously considered as a form of procrastination. Can’t think of the amount of time I spent staring at the screen of my computer, consequently switching between the links and making the initial purpose of my searching to steadily vanish away. And can’t help but notice how some of my friends serve as even worse example. But better not to consider the extremes…

The statement is:

For humans, this desire to search is not just about fulfilling our physical needs. Panksepp says that  humans can get just as excited about abstract rewards as tangible ones. He says that when we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about divining meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.
The juice that fuels the seeking system is the neurotransmitter dopamine. The dopamine circuits  “promote states of eagerness and directed purpose,” Panksepp writes. It’s a state humans love to be in.  So good does it feel that we seek out activities, or substances, that keep this system aroused — cocaine  and amphetamines, drugs of stimulation, are particularly effective at stirring it.

For me it perfectly makes sense. Searching for something provides us with the illusion of doing something important. The background is the same – we are searching for information and are always finding – these are two key processes that bring us the satisfaction in our eagerness. Ans the more we search – the more eager we consider ourselves – the more we want to search. This is the circular chain that makes us waste out times clogging out brains with rubbish information.

Indeed it is not always pointless pieces of information, sometimes we may be lucky enough to find something challenging and useful. But there is no point in relying on luck in such cases and, let’s be honest, nobody even think about what is he going to find scrolling down the pages; You just scroll.

Ridiculously when we consider our main needs the satisfaction of which potentially leads to our ultimate happiness, we prefer not to work for this gratification (which in this case will be long lasting and will lead to another achievement of ours) but to replace its “real” causes by fake ones – the particular type of drug we choose for ourselves – digital or medical.

And to realise why we do it – another research needs to be conducted.

KEY READING: BULLSHIT AND THE ART OF CRAP DETECTION. RESPONSE

What Neil Postman is stating in his paper “Bullshit and the Art of Crap Detection” is what I consider one of the most unfairly neglected issues of all times; and seems like this is not going to change in the nearest (or not that nearest) future.

He outlines and categorises several types of “strategies” people use to mask their insufficiency (which involves lack of knowledge or lack of logic or lack of confidence; the list goes on).

  • Pomposity – passion towards BIG words that makes one superior in the eyes of another for no particular reason but because of one’s habit to show off.
  • Fanaticism (Eichmannism) – irrational public adherence to particular beliefs. Irrational because of the exceptions made where it is convenient.
  • Inanity – verbiage. Especially prospering these days because of the amount of ways to publically share your opinion.
  • Superstition – blind adherence to the belief (and usually its propaganda) that doesn’t have any sensible arguments to be supported with.

I believe that the main reason why this problem is massively neglected is… the fact that it is not considered as a problem anymore (or has it ever been considered?). People are so used to the amount of crap they are daily given, that even though they might get irritated when somebody is shamelessly using these so-called techniques lacking real arguments to prove the point – in majority of situations they ignore it. Because we all do it to a certain extent, right? So…

Let the innocent one among you be the first to throw a stone at…

That’s why the only conclusion I can think of drawing is that to eliminate the amount of bullshit circulating around us we have to start by fixing ourselves. So that after the redemption have the right to be the “innocent one” and start “throwing stones” spreading the word all around. (Agreed, sounds pompous, but feels so right!)

Future semantic – future digital

Throughout numerous lectures and self-directed exploration I came to understanding that not only immersive environment technologies are used for entertainment for the sake of entertainment but as a powerful retail/marketing tool. This is where the real competition takes place.

What IBM reports is that immersive retailing experience being delivered via microenvironments that narrow the focus of shoppers’ experiences to “I” and “me.” This makes the customer feel special and believe that he is the most important if not the only target audience. Obviously this is what advertising industry has always been striving for but with the constantly developing immersive environment  technologies it is becoming just overwhelming. Remember – we love to be tricked!

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Indeed it seems like we are getting closer and closer to the reality predicted in vast majority of science fiction movies, such as Minority Report (2002) or Back to the Future (1985!!!). What is more recently BBC reported that Minority Report-like adverts ‘may hit the UK next year’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12582477)

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However the main problem for advertisers remains – whether people will be convinced to actually buy the product instead of perceiving the whole thing as “high level entertainment”. Because although the public mind is developing and ajusting with pretty high pace, the technological progress seem to be  way ahead. So every new achievement in this field is usually met with reaction compared to excitement of a child who has just got a brand new toy. And because nowadays technologies are (“to put it mildly”) way more complex than any toy any kid can ever get this excitement lasts quite long…

So what awaits us in this rapidly developing ubiquitous computing future?

To consider all the greatness and seriousness of this thing that we’re making (and we are making it together) here are some statistics considering the dimensions of this one machine accessed by myriad devices from all over the world:

•  120 billion clicks per day.

•  65 trillion links between all the Web pages of the world.

•  2.5 million emails per second

•  170 quadrillion transistors

•  246 exabyte storage.

•  10 terabytes per second total traffic (the Library of Congress is about twenty terabytes. So every second, half the Library of Congress is swooshing around the world)

•  It uses five percent of the global electricity on the planet.

And recalling the link previously drawn between human brain and Internet: •  55 trillion links – almost the same as the number of synapses in a brain. •  A quadrillion transistors – almost the same as the number of neurons.

Hard to imagine this but if now the complexity and capacity of The Machine equals to the power of one human brain (and in comparison with it human brain is not doubling every two years) what kind of inconceivable technology are we going to face in let’s say 50 years?

By the year 2040, the total processing power of this machine will exceed the total processing power of humanity.

Of course opinions vary when it comes to such controversial topic. Some are paranoid about the machines-taking-over-the-world issue, some choose to go with the flaw while others feel very enthusiastic about AI and the time when we can break the boundaries between real and virtual.

http://youtu.be/AFiE82Npbn4

And I can try and understand every position, because for now I don’t know the full capabilities of future technologies and I believe in freedom of choice (at least for now nobody forces us to use the upcoming technologies although unofficial the attempts are constantly being made).

What I personally think is that everything has a right to exist as long as it serves the best intentions and doesn’t displace the actual reality. Yes – we are all contributing to the development of The Machine and this is amazing where it can lead us. But no matter what technology will be able to give us in the future it should always be a “helper” but not a “friend” of ours. And I will keep believeing in sticking to material, in personal/physical interaction, in touching and feeling and seeing the reality with my eyes; with my only digital friend – my camera.

The Power of the Network

We all use – or a part of a network. Everything in this world is structured in a way that leads to formation of these networks. Roads, trains, structure of our brain, telephones, friends, etc. Networks are powerful structures with the emphasis on interconnectivity and this interconnectivity gives us the ability to learn.

Some examples of networks:

network 6 network 5network 7 network4 network 2network 1

network 9

People has always been systematising information. Even before creation of the Internet or scientific discoveries about neural networks people has been using maps and plans to systematise their knowledge.

However the official network theory began to take shape in 20th century. And this is when two of its main types have been distinguished. Scale-free networks (which are the most pervasive) and random networks (less common and less stable).

scale-free_network_sample

Scale-free networks are characterised by what’s known as the power law distribution and the clustering coefficient distribution. When random networks are more likely to be temporary constructions which arise and fade away, because the hubs and clusters they consist of are not equally robust.

With the creation of Internet the world was introduced with the largest (global) network ever seen.  And this provided us, artists, with a whole new way of distribution of our works that now can flaw through the Web, collecting all sorts of responses: criticism, approval, advices for improvement, etc.

What good is blood without an arterial system? What good is art or photography in the digital age without a network to distribute it?

However no matter to what extend the online connectivity helps our development and how the Internet network is so similar to the way human brain is wired; – We should never forget that (taken from Olga Goriunova):

  • feedback is not interaction
  • computation is not cognition
  • storage is not memory
  • data is not knowledge
  • telecommunication switches are not social networks
  • cybernetic mapping is not the cultural territory.

 

Here Comes Everybody!

It is hard to imagine how introduction to the Internet increased the possibility of active participation. And how it sufficiently decreased the perception of the importance of actual human interaction in real world. Before it all of us (Yes, I am “old enough” to be proud of childhood without Internet) used to meet to be involved in participation. Physical, material interaction. People all ages used to meet to explore various places, play board games, cards; To simply sit and talk.

Now however from the very early age society is immersed in online participation. Not only with friends or family but with absolutely random people, who they’ve never met in their life and will most probably never meet. And I don’t know what is more rational – to communicate online with strangers or… with your family you see every day.

Still the fact remains – Internet has made participation dominant – people seem to seek to be part of online activities, doesn’t matter who with. Just recall the phenomenal popularity of Gangnam Style or Harlem Shake – videos triggered the online trend.

This lecture by Wesch -to the Library of Congress in 2008 – concentrates on User Generated Content (read I Tube Youtube Everybody Tubes) and participatory culture and Wesch, evidently, sees it as a new, and fascinating, cultural form. We’ll watch 3 mins or so – but please watch it all in your own time.

So does participation in these activities make us step out of this tremendous anonymous mass and show how special we are? Or does it make us a part of just another mass that tries to show that they are not like the others? Vicious circle.

However as always there are two sides of the medal. For us as photographers/artists it means:

+

  1. Social media allows you to communicate directly with peers
  2. Ideas can be shared/developed
  3. The feedback on your work  can be received even if you don’t have an established ‘name’
  4. You can create a professional profile and brand your practice so that creating connections with communities of practice around the world is a click (or two) away

  1. Your ideas can be appropriated
  2. Everyone can get online and ‘present’ themselves as professional

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Sometimes however this existence of possibility for global interaction can be also used to create an illusion of such. For example it makes a lot of people believe that they  can actually be closer to celebrities or their famous people of interest because now the majority of them have twitter or facebook accounts, blogs, etc. Although it might give a very pleasuring impression of intimacy and immediacy, in fact the gulf between them and their fans is as wide as ever. Notice with how many of “ordinary people” celebrities are interacting online!

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On the other hand this global interaction may result in something amazing like this “Life in a day” project:

On July 24, 2010, thousands of people around the world uploaded videos of their lives to YouTube to take part in Life in a Day, a historic cinematic experiment to create a documentary film about a single day on earth.

http://www.youtube.com/user/lifeinaday

So as any breakthrough this communication shift has its pluses and minuses. Indeed now we have a wider insight to each others lives, but we shouldn’t spend most of our time SHOWING how we live, but actually live and create vivid memories in our minds and hearts rather than just on the screen of our laptops.