Assignment 5 : Digital Identities 2

This assignment is presented on a dedicated blog : link below

Telling Stories

Prior to the post-photographic era ‘the visual discourses of recorded fact and imaginative construction were conveniently segregated. But the emergence of digital imaging has irrevocably subverted these certainties’ (W,Mitchell. p.p 225).

The work for this assignment explores concepts of memory and identity using appropriated imagery. All of the analogue photographs have been bought from either eBay or junk shops them digitally scanned , reprocessed and re-interpreted by me. In addition to the physical prints I have also downloaded digital files from the web using free stock photos that are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) and processed these too using Adobe Lightroom and occasionally Photoshop. Because ‘the lineage of an image file is usually untraceable, and there may be no way to determine whether it is a freshly captured , unmanipulated record or a mutation of a mutation—-notions of individual authorial responsibility for image content, authorial determination of meaning , and authorial prestige are correspondingly diminished’ (Mitchell, W. pp 51-2).

Encouraged by my tutor the accompanying text became a really important element of the work. In the January 2018 issue of Black + White Photography editor Elizabeth Roberts discusses how ‘images and text should be born together, nurtured and fed as though they were twins. Simply adding text on , as an afterthought , seems unsatisfactory’ (Roberts, E. 2018). By using text along with imagery for the Telling Stories blog I am creating a new literary and visual reality regardless of the fact that it is totally fictitious and my online ‘family’ completely non-existent. I’ve included some composite images but because merged layers can be ambiguous and open to interpretation the addition of text guides my viewer to ‘see’ and imagine what I want them to visualise and believe.

Unlike real life a digital identity can be easily modified ; you can portray yourself and your family as anything you want them to be. ‘In general , if an image follows the convention of photography and seems internally coherent, if the visual evidence that it presents supports the caption …..then we feel justified in the attitude that seeing is believing’ (W,Mitchell. p.p 43). Baudrillard suggests we find it impossible in a postmodern era to distinguish between reality and trickery , that there is no difference between actuality and its replication but solely the simulacrum.The main body of my work is on a dedicated blog Telling Stories and hopefully fulfils what Baudrillard calls the 3rd order of simulacra and is successful in tricking viewers to misinterpret the stories to be an actuality; the hyperreal as fact. I like to think of my stories as an authentic hyperreality which ironically is an oxymoronic term: a genuine fake!

In addition I have linked a hoax Instagram account to the blog that can also be accessed independently via a mobile phone app, this now has nearly 50 followers. I initially had have reservations about downloading and using someone else’s digital imagery in my own practice , my fake Instagram account only features what was originally someone else’s digital file. Unlike analogue photography ‘digital images—do not even have unique negatives. An image file may be copied endlessly , and the copy is distinguishable from the original only by its date since there is no loss of quality—-The original image file may be destroyed within a short time of its creation, but many of its descendants may live on…..Does each application of a new rendering procedure produce a new original work of art ? ‘ (Mitchell,W. p.p 49–50) . The majority of the images dowloaded from Pexels have been converted from colour to monotone with the exception of one and I feel my processing reinvents and therefore makes them uniquely mine.

I have also included three videos in the stories featuring a few of my appropriated photographs using a pseudonym for the Vimeo account.

Using appropriation the function of my purchased yet once private analogue images has been irrevocably altered. “By definition , a photograph is a discernible marker of what has been . It becomes a part of history the moment to is taken. The world changes and we change , yet photographs remain static visual clues to the past. The semblance of truth in these images , however , is illusionary , especially now in our digital age. What stimulates the imagination is that every photograph contains an interweaving of obvious facts and subtle fictions” (Robert Flynn Johnson. 2009. p.p 14).

Furthermore the ambiguity of found analogue photography and digital files downloaded from stock photo sites has such possibilities for future projects with the combination of digital technology. It grants the elusive gift of immortality and the possibility of endless re-incarnations when used in different contexts.

References / Bibliography

 Batchen , G. “Dreams of an ordinary life. Cartes-de-visite and the bourgeois imagination”  ( 2009) In Long , J. Noble , A . Welch , E. (eds)  Photography Theoretical Snapshots: London : Routledge.
p.p 80-97
Boyd ,W. (2011) Nat Tate. London:Bloomsbury
Boyd ,W. (2016) Sweet Caress. London:Bloomsbury
Cooksey ,J.(2017) Vest Pocket Kodak and the First World War.East Susses UK: Ammonite Press
Cumming , L. 4/7/10. Camille Silvy :Photographer of Modern Life ; Fiona Banner Duveens Commission 2010. the
Accessed online 30/8/17
Daly , T. (2018) “Taped and Temporary” Black + White Photography (Issue 212) p.p 56-59.
Fontcuberta , J . (2014) Pandora’s camera. United Kingdom :Mack
House , C. (2015) William Boyd on the photos that inspired Sweet Caress (online)
Accessed 2/11/17
Johnson , R.F. (2009) Being human .London :Thames & Hudson
Lister , M. (ed) (2013) The photographic image in digital culture . 2nd edition.London:Taylor & Francis
W, Mitchell. (2001) The Reconfigured Eye :Visual Truth in the Post-Photogrpahic Era. Cambridge Massachusetts : The MIT Press.
Page , B. (2015) William Boyd Interview (online)
Accessed 11/11/17
Parkin, Simon. 2015.  Back-up brains : The era of digital immortality
online accessed 24/8/17
Riggs , R. (2013) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children . Philadelphia US: Quirk Books
Riggs, R. (2014) Hollow City . Philadelphia US: Quirk Books
Riggs , R. (2015) Library of Souls . Philadelphia US: Quirk Books
Riggs, R. (2012) Talking Pictures . NewYork:ItBooks
Roberts , E. (2017) “On Finding the Right Words” Black + White Photography (Issue 206) p.p1
Roberts , E. (2018) “The Possibilities of Language” Black + White Photography (Issue 211) p.p1
Shrimpton, J. (2014) Tracing your Ancestors through Family Photographs. Pen & Sword:Barnsley UK.
Smithson , A. MadgeCameron:Fixed. Lenscratch online 7/3/2015
Accessed 8/3/17
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Accessed  17/4/17 & 20/1/18
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2 thoughts on “Assignment 5 : Digital Identities 2

  1. Catherine

    Such a satisfactory conclusion to your Project. To me it’s been founded on such firm contextual grounds – research and planning – yet has remained lively and entertaining whilst questioning what’s ‘real’.



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