Tag Archives: media

Photography as a Site-Specific Ghost

Photo: Mark Yokoyama, 2001-2011

Some time ago I was writing about the authorship and site-specificity of a photographic image—about the possibility to return the images to the places where they have been taken as opposed to the cultural norm of them to be appropriated by an author and taken away from the context. And here is an interesting example of how the photographic picture is being brought back to the place to belong there in the form of another picture. The simplicity, impressive visuality and symbolic tension of this process makes it accessible to a wide public use, which is apparent in this example. This kind of application creates an obvious nostalgic/sentimental quality, but that still might be an interesting case of a grassroots creativity.

The result of such a double mediation is an inevitable tension between the referent of the original picture and its original context at the moment when the next photo is taken. Needless to say, that there can be numerous layers in such a process, enriching the media of photography with completely different dimentions.

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The Un-dead and Media Theory

‘Once memories and dreams, the dead and ghosts, become technically reproducible, readers and writers no longer need the powers of hallucination. Our realm of the dead has withdrawn from the books in which it resided for so long. As Diodor of Sicily once wrote, “it is no longer only through writing that the dead remain in the memory of the living.”‘ [1]

Now we access the dead using the social networks as a public memory database with a multimedia interface. The next step (which already has been taken, though) would be merging the avatar of the deceased with the artificial intelligence, thus providing the ‘lively’ experience—-way more uncanny than the ‘usual’ gallery-type virtual cemeteries, which began to thrive during the recent decade. When such post-religious digital resurrections will become a norm, the ‘spirit’ behind the analogue photography will finally be released and forgotten. As far as the old spirit photography and AI-driven resurrection goes, it appears, that such arguments as ‘made possible by technologies’ and ’caused by technologies’ are locked in a causal loop (or rather a short circuit).

[1] Kittler, Friedrich A. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1999): 10

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Recommended ‘Critical Digital Studies’: Book and Website Resource

From the editors of CTheory:


A guide to digital culture, written by theorists and artists, including:
Donna Haraway, N. Katherine Hayles, Eugene Thacker, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Stelarc, Steve Dixon, Sara Diamond, Mary Bryson, Lev Manovitch, Jordan Crandall, Christina McPhee, Stephen Pfohl, D. Fox Harrell, Alexander Gallaway, Anna Munster.

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