Twenty years ago, Fred Ritchin's In Our Own Image presciently outlined many of the ways in which the digital age would transform society. This groundbreaking. After photography / Fred Ritchin. p. cm. his pizzeria in Dale City, Virginia. Mr. Loan died The photograph's fraine. heretofore simply a container for the image. In Our Own Image: The Coming Revolution in Photography (Aperture Writers & Artists on Photography) [Fred Ritchin] on *FREE* shipping on.

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() report that more than two thirds of Americans own smartphones and According to Fred Ritchin, digitization has transformed the photograph into the. In his book, which exemplifies perfectly these early approaches, Ritchin (, 3) offers an image of a science fiction dystopia in a passage in which he muses. Argument: The politics and quotidianity of the post-photographic image . floating subject on its own, detached from any function or relation specific to its Fred Ritchin's After Photography's basic proposition is that, if the world is mediated.

Although these two processes are interrelated, the latter, I believe, seems to have significant implications for the future of digital images, in which they will no longer be regarded as merely analog image simulations but as generating new aesthetic modes of expression that can only be understood within terms particular to virtuality.

Returning to the issue of referentiality in digital images, there remains a central question of whether or not the sheer absence of referentiality leads to the disappearance of indexicality. Because this concept is beyond the scope of the present article, I chose instead to refer to this aspect of his work here to direct readers who are interested in the issue.

This fact marks, I will argue, the end of the conventional difference between memory images and images to be seen. In contrast to conventional photographic images, digital images do not mask themselves as things in the past; they do not replace memory images. In other words, because they are devoid of materiality and referentiality, they refer to nothing but the images themselves.

They thereby acquire the characteristics of intertextuality and conceptuality. The essential characteristic of photography, making its own object more apparent than itself, dissolves in the absence of indexicality. Maynard distinguishes between visual descriptions and manifestations that imply two modes of authenticity, the former of which refers to hand-made pictures and the latter to photographs.

Although the first type is related to information or content, the second depends on causality. Thus, for him, photographs are at once visual descriptions of their subjects and manifestations of what they depict.

He asserts that these two characteristics are inherently conflictual: a symptom of a disease is the manifestation of that disease, not the image of it.

In this example, the idea of a picture that is both the manifestation and visual description of a disease is confusing and nigh impossible. Maynard is therefore echoing the conventional distinction between icon and index. The early definitions of photography as a mirror or reflection of reality depend in part on epistemological realism, in which what Maynard conceptualizes as information or content is of utmost concern.

However, ontological realism speaks to the causal relationship between a photograph and its subject, with the photograph being the causal consequence of this relation. Both epistemological and ontological realism regard photography as having a direct relationship to reality.

Digital photography does not operate through ontological realism; that is, what it promises to depict as real has nothing to do with the ontological. Digital images are also paradoxical aesthetically due to being detached from the referent ontologically: although they operate primarily through the loss of the referent at the moment of contact, they also imitate a modern representational form that depends largely on referentiality and medium specificity.

To examine this paradox from a broader perspective, digital images can be considered photographic images rather than photographs, a difference that is substantiated by self-reference and a sense of postmodern nostalgia for the modern. This sense of nostalgia does not mourn for the referent lost at the very beginning of the photographic act, but for the representation of the referent itself in conventional photography. The conception of digital images regarded here as genuine icons calls into question the distinction between medium and image.

However, while the medium already exists within its materiality, the image gains the virtue of materiality only in conjunction with the medium. Sartre , once noted that existence-as-imaged is a mode of being that is exceptionally hard to comprehend because we tend to think of all modes of existence in terms of physical existence, a deep-rooted habit that proves difficult to break.

This is where the image ceases to be an imaged thing but becomes an object that exists in the same way that the object does. However, if we assume impartibility of medium and image for a moment, then the indexicality of this medium- image is conceivable within materiality. I think not. The lens and the camera are indispensable to and inextricable parts of the transfer process in analog photography. In digital images, although these tools seem to fulfill the same functions as in analog photography, the photographic process ends just after what I have identified in the present discussion as the moment of contact.

The data transferred to the digital sensor has nothing in it that is particular to the medium at hand; rather, this data carries the same ontological definition no matter the outcome i. Thus, the trace of the referent is lost after the very brief moment of the actual photographic act.

The notion of reality refers exclusively to the self- reference of the digitalized data and a theoretically infinite chain of references. However, the highlighted difference between analog and digital photography does not amount to the photographic act being an inherently realistic and neutral process safe from ideology in which the objects in front of the camera are truthfully brought to the photographic surface without any intermediaries.

The distinction only means that the photograph is a certificate of presence of a thing and carries traces of it, rather than encapsulating a specific association between the photographic representation and truth or a claim that indexicality reflects or reversely distorts reality.

Notes from the Field: An Interview with Fred Ritchin

Relatedly, the presence of referentiality does not lend itself to the fact that a sort of immediacy between the photograph and its object made possible through the notion of indexicality entails any kind of inference about the nature of reality or truth appearing through the image.

If we are supposed to decide whether or not digital images can be regarded as photographs although it is quite problematic to pose the question in this way , we can content ourselves by claiming that digital images have lost some distinctive characteristics of photographic images, a statement which renders exceptionally challenging the task of determining if they are in fact photographs.

Hubertus v. Amelunxen et al. Pauline Cumbers, Archambault, Michael.

Digital: A Comparison of the Advantages and Disadvantages. Armstrong, Carol. Scenes in a Library: Reading the Photograph in the Book, — Arnheim, Rudolf. Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans.

Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang. Batchen, Geoffrey. Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography. Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation, trans.

Sheila Faria Glaser. The Perfect Crime, trans. Chris Turner. London and New York: Verso. Fatal Strategies. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext e. Hugh Gray, Berkeley: University of California Press. Binkley, Timothy. Philip Hayward and Tana Wollen, London: BFI. Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard.

Remediation: Understanding New Media. Crary, Jonathan. Cubitt, Sean et al. Sean Cubitt et al. London: Open Humanities Press. Derrida, Jacques.

Jeff Fort. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Doane, Mary A. Frosch, Paul. Oxford and New York: Berg. Geuens, Jean-Pierre.

Gooskens, Geert. Libby Fink, Ruth Horak, Salzburg: Fotohof Edition. You need context, all kinds of context. You need history. You need chronology. You need mapping.

You need explanation of terms. You need comparison with other cultures. You need discussion forums. You also need a sense of ownership by the readers. And you need a transparent code of ethics that everybody knows about so that they know how the information is acquired.

As a reader, I need to know that I am also a collaborator and an author. If I know anything about the subject, it is almost required of me to chime in and correct misperceptions, because documenting our lives is not a one-way street.

It has to be a multiple-way street at this point. Whoever the witnesses are, the professionals are, the semi-professionals are, or the amateurs are, or a hybrid of all—they need to be open enough to make such reporting almost open-source so that anybody who has other ideas can express them without, of course, overloading us with so much information that we cannot digest it all.

To keep down the overload we also need transparent filters that are easy for anyone to use. This idea of a front page really fascinates me. It would also be an effective model for documentaries.

The evidentiary standard is that someone was there, that they saw this thing and that this is what is happening now. How do we envision a type of document that would reflect the changes that have taken place in terms of what kind of evidence now counts? And how can evidence affect the future as opposed to simply recording the past?

We try to get from one end of the field to the other. In lots of other countries they play soccer, where you kick the ball sideways or backwards much of the time. I think what we are trying to do now is like playing soccer, but there is no goal. If there is a goal, we are going to reach it from somewhere on the field, and nobody is going to control when or where we get to the goal until eventually, after much trial and error, we begin to agree on a focus, a resolve, and that will be our goal.

I think that visual media exist, and they are overwhelming, but to isolate photography as separate from other visual media is an older perspective now. Do my Facebook images represent me or am I my Facebook images? Are they me? The images and the person increasingly share a space, and I think that has to do with playing soccer and I think it has to do with Occupy Wall Street.

The representational space is less distinct from us. It is actually safer to share our existence with images because images are, compared to us, immortal. But simultaneously we are us, and we are in an alliance right now with image, because image actually can have more power than almost anything, including guns.

So your image, my image, we are out there in the image world somewhere. It represents somewhat of a new territory and a new opening of possibilities. It amplifies us. It also diminishes us. I think this is what we are talking about now in terms of citizenship. So if you are part of the 99 percent, you are affirming that you exist.

Out of these hybrid existences we have to construct new ways of recognizing each other, of forming structures that reflect our existence outside of conventional boundaries, so that we can actually move forward in powerful ways.

If there is an emergency, if there is something that has to be dealt with, we have to figure out how to deal with it as a group. I think somewhere under all of this we are trying, consciously and unconsciously, to construct new forms, because we are not convinced by the old forms anymore. You know, it is more important to have a sane, happy life than to make a good image. I think a well-crafted image is important, but it has often been an excuse not to deal with what is out there or in there, in yourself.

If it is a way to deal with what is in yourself, that is fine, or out there, that is fine as well. But I think we get a little fetishistic and we forget that what we are engaged in really is a conversation.

Making images, or being in media, is mediating. It is about a conversation between what is out there, ourselves, ourselves and other people, ourselves and the past, the future, and so on.

Fred Ritchin Redefines Digital Photography

It should not only be a dialogue among images. What I am trying to prepare students for is how to navigate all that and how to decide what you want from it all, if possible, and how you can affect the larger ways in which media evolve, not only by making your own pictures—although that in itself is obviously also quite important—but by creating new media strategies.

Take the shift to a digital camera—it is not just more efficient; there is a whole galaxy of changes implicit in the digital approach. But we have to look deeply and into the future, and I think that we in the university are not doing enough to try to anticipate these changes, to try to create the future that we want for ourselves using the new technologies, while also using evolving technologies as brakes for some of our worst excesses.

The Web has been around since the early s, and design-wise it is hardly progressive. Spiritually, it is terribly lacking. The issue of the decline of journalism has been around for quite a long time now as well, but what are we coming up with?

We have citizen journalism, we have a few ideas, but we could do a lot more. Yes, the iPhone is great, other gadgets are great, but they must be pushed in the directions in which we want our civilizations to grow. The automobile is great. What really works? What are the changes needed? One can argue that Photoshop has terribly diminished photographic credibility, just as it has opened up lots of new and productive ways of using imaging that we should be aggressively pursuing.

Should we choose to accept these changes, or should we choose to turn out World Press, or award-winning, photos? They think the pictures are from another planet.

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The images have nothing to do with their lives. They just seem completely exotic to them. I think what we are trying to turn out from the university, in part, is people who could create what is needed for the future. So the idea is to understand the processes at work and understand the thinking behind them and have some sense of yourself, and your friends, and what you and other people need and want, then to know what you need to create.

On the one hand, it is arguably the case that everyday social media users rarely consider the truth-value of their photos in practice — it would be exhausting to deconstruct every claim to authenticity in relation to ordinary visual communication e.

Borges-Rey ; Sheldon and Bryant ; Zappavigna Mobile, Networked and Algorithmic Images Recent research suggests that some of the above potentials are being realized in unexpected ways through novel image mobilities. Some argue that digital images often exist only as potential rather than as actual as they proliferate simultaneously across many networks, systems, and audiences, while rarely being looked at Lister In other words, the attachment of image to context is mute when images are radically mobile and networked by their very nature — they do not represent or convey anything.

The ways in which images circulate through platforms, databases and devices, make them less durable van Dijck but these processes are not simply user-directed, involving algorithmic processes that are often obscured from view Schwarz On the other hand, it can lead to an assumption that the circulation of images is automatic, that it is completely beyond our control and disconnected from any contexts of meaningful practice and subsequent reflection.

By contrast, as Hjorth and Pink 47 argue, the new conjunctions of mobile photography with location based services e. Similarly, it has been argued that photography itself should be conceptualized as process rather than only images: Although the image prevails, photography is shifted toward process.

Due to the incessant flow of images, photographic activity, the process of documentation and the deflective character of looking are highlighted.

Mobile media photography marks a shift in orientation from the image toward photography as a mode of engagement Shanks and Svabo , original emphasis A second move has been to conceptualize images as characterized by their flow through social media and information networks. Many social media images may have the same compositional form, especially in advertising, but the nature of their mobility and therefore their viewing are likely to be very different.

From this point of view the computational and programmable image designs aesthetic continuity into the image such that it feels familiar, but regardless these are algorithmically produced images. As algorithmically processed data, it is accessible from multiple points in the network, and is held together by shifting constellations of metadata, distributions of pixels, and so on.

Images are inseparable from their social media platforms in this sense, but this location context is unprecedentedly unstable. A related consideration is how this increased image circulation in social media might alter its relationship to time, temporality, and remembrance. Most obviously, social media images are often immediate and ephemeral, but crucially also enduring and pivotal for memory-making in ways that are certainly unpredictable and may appear contradictory.

An image might be viewed and discarded immediately on a smartphone but will be simultaneously archived across social media by default. In this sense, while photographs have always been exchanged, often as gifts, but also in terms of their long temporal lives as objects in circulation Burstow , there is arguably something very different about circulation through social media platforms, partly because it is clearly not only subject to individual control and may proceed along several trajectories simultaneously.

There are sociotechnical and practice orientated aspects to this. The technologies through which images circulate can alter the materiality of the image — its composition, compression, formatting and so on — in ways that may change how it is viewed and what it can mean in time and over time. As van Dijck observes, the technical structures of different levels of networked technologies — interface, protocol, and platform — are mediating and steering the social practices of visual communication.

Alongside this, the circulation of social media images often appears to be accelerating, reconfiguring the relationship between photography and temporality — the increased capacity to distribute images across space via networks in almost real time. This, in turn, has generated cultural conventions around immediate communication that have then become built into applications e. SnapChat that further generate new expectations. In this sense, although some have argued that digital snapshots are not meant to be archived van Dijck ; see also Buse ; Chalfen this does not mean that they will not be.

However, if we bring together the dynamics of platforms and digital images with the varied social practices of individuals that engender circulation, there may be significant changes in the relationship between photography and memory. The emphasis here has been on how the immediacy and accessibility of the photographed past is permanently configured through evolving network structures that foster both increasingly personalized and public data exemplified at present by the increasingly image-orientated Twitter.

In sum, the algorithmic image described above exists as flows of data. Ritchin ; Rubenstein and Sluis Clearly, both need to be accounted for in understanding social media photography.

In Our Own Image

Intimacy, Authenticity, and Value If photography in social media is ubiquitous, malleable, and often beyond individual control, then another major consideration is whether this fundamentally changes the cultural content and value of images, image making and sharing in social media. As indicated above, the volume and variety of images in social media platforms raises significant questions for context, meaning, and interpretation. It would be tempting, mistakenly, to simply associate the ordinary with banality or ephemerality in a pejorative or elitist sense Ibrahim The predominance of the camera phone then smartphone in everyday life has involved, on the one hand, the embedding of image-making across varied social practices, and on the other hand, in so doing, the increasing visualization and valuation of those practices.

Routine practices — such as eating, for example — are often photographed, posted, shared, and discussed in ways that lack an obvious precedent. This ordinariness is an outcome of the materiality of smartphones, the new 17 conventions of friendship maintenance and mediated sociality, as well as changing photographic conventions that appear radically open.

Intimate, Iconic, and Everyday Photographies Social media images represent a definitive shift in personal photographic practices where we see a foregrounding of the photographer—viewer relationship in the visual structure Zappavigna There are several senses in which social media photography can be a most intimate form. Garde-Hansen has argued, significantly, that this in turn has involved a shift from family to friendships as the main source of personal photographic content.

Thirdly, smartphones are mostly connected to social media that invite immediate visual communication through apps such as SnapChat.

Dazzling Photos Let You Orbit Earth Aboard the Space Station

Villi describes this visual communication over distance in terms of how people try to overcome absence in space — as people are travelling away from family, for example. In this sense, it is distance rather than temporality that gives social media photography its meaning see also De Souza e Silva and Frith Outside of the domestic context, the affective power of social media images to alter public understanding is being theorized in relation to the combination of pictorial qualities and immediate circulation through social media.

In pictorial terms, the Abu Ghraib and London Tube bombings remain the quintessential cases of the efficacy of the cellphone image - the poor quality, grainy cellphone images that have exemplified the continued salience of the photographic in contemporary news reporting and citizen-journalism.

Visual citizen journalism is becoming more pervasive with the increased use of Twitter across a broader demographic, but this also relies upon ordinary practices of interpretation and commentary, retweeting, commenting, and so on. This is taking many forms, from anti-racist interventions in political debates to revelations of environmental degradation, attributable to individuals 19 or institutions. This is where, as I stated earlier, despite all the debates about algorithmic undecidedness, we come back to issues of representation in practice — how the visualizing of salient political and ethical issues appears to gather additional force when assembled visually across multiple social media platforms.

Selfies are interesting precisely because they are dismissed all too easily, embodying what some see as axiomatic conditions of the social media age — individualization, narcissism, celebrity, and so on.

But if we think more carefully about selfies in terms of what they articulate socially, technically, and culturally then several significant issues can be discussed. These in turn tell us something about the multidimensional nature of social media photography — the image, technology and practice related elements I have discussed so far.

Photography has become 20 embedded in a range of practices that do this work — it is not necessarily about performing identities, but rather meeting the basic needs of social recognition. In pictorial terms, the selfie is not simply a self-portrait. It is important to note the differences in platforms here; people are engaged in arguably very different modes of self-presentation on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and Twitter.

It is also significant that celebrities, who have been influential in making selfies such a significant and recognizable aesthetic form, use Instagram routinely as a key element in personal branding e. Kylie Jenner. However, the composition of selfies also indicates the limitations of analyzing images in isolation.

It is, for Frosh , a trace of the performance rather than of an object self. The key difference between the selfie and other modes of self-portraiture is the necessity of the arms-length image — the arms are often visible in the image.

The camera becomes incorporated in the image as part of the hand-camera assemblage. But the whole body also must reshape itself to make the selfie happen. In all these ways, the selfie is a reflexive technology: it directs our attention toward the conditions and contexts of production.

So, selfies are a novel form of image, in that they are an image of making an image Frosh Through Photoshop and similar editing tools, the ability to crop, to remove blemishes, lighten and darken the skin, and so on, positions the selfie at the conjunction of immediacy and alterability. What can selfies tell us about the cultural context that attaches value to them?

In the case of selfies, such concerns are as much about camera phone technology and its centrality to self-expression as it is about the images themselves Hjorth and Hendry ; Miltner and Baym Questions such as when taking a selfie is acceptable, and who or what is suitable in the making of a selfie, and with who and through what means a selfie should be shared, and so on, have become moral questions, framed by existing gendered, raced and classed expectations.

Indeed, selfie takers are routinely subject to social regulation, particularly young women Burns In this way, the pictorial or compositional elements of images are less significant than their status as discursive modes of regulation. It is found that there are particularly significant gendered expectations concerning sexual self-representation in selfies, with women experiencing greater levels of condemnation see Burns The uncertainties generated through rapid image circulation discussed above can be seen here, where selfies appear and disappear rapidly across platforms, being both personalized and globally dispersed objects.

Selfies are necessarily distributed via social media, with that distribution enabling ongoing re- contextualization and additional elements to be added e.

A key trajectory here is to try and understand how people routinely classify such images. Private selfies are not to be shared, but with the anxiety that they might be found by others.

Similarly, Lobinger and Brantner focus on the perception of authenticity in this form of social media photography. They found that some of this authenticity is achieved somewhat self-consciously through filters and apps that produce a simulated analogue authenticity.

For others, the situation of the photograph the ordinary or everyday achieves authenticity, rather than the person. This again shows how the category of authenticity is ambivalent but not meaningless concerning selfies, drawing 23 upon audience expressions.

We might reasonably assume that these situated, reflexive practices are more prevalent in relation to social media photography more widely.

Concluding Comments This essay has aimed to indicate some of the ways in which photography is proliferating and altering in social media. From increases in the volume and diversity of images, to changes in how they are made, distributed and viewed, it seems that photography remains recognizable despite some radical mutations.O la percezione che noi abbiamo delle cose?

However, it is not uncommon for these discussions to be couched at times in belief rather than fact. So the idea is to understand the processes at work and understand the thinking behind them and have some sense of yourself, and your friends, and what you and other people need and want, then to know what you need to create.

As a reader, I need to know that I am also a collaborator and an author. It is not the top 10 percent, or the