All in Reading

Archive Noises

In his chapter, Archive Noises, Joan Fontcuberta (2014) attempts to define the role and purpose of photography in modern society. Since its existence was announced at the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Fine Arts, by scientist and politician, François Arago on the 19th August 1839, Fontcuberta (2014) defines modern photographic practice as a discourse between documentation and experimentation, and between memory and forgetting. In other words, the photograph enables us to capture details which the human eye might miss, and serve as a prompt to recall visual data, which would otherwise be forgotten.  

Joan Fontcuberta's chapter title takes the read back to a time of 'girl power' and the notion of celebrity. He recalls an anecdote about having his photograph taken in a photo booth and being presented with the option to magically appear with the Spice Girls. Other options included Princess Diana and Tony Blair. At the time, these personalities offered an alternative view of the world, an opportunity to break away from what had always been. The Spice Girls encouraged strong independent women, Princess Diana looked to modernise the royal family, and Tony Blair was all about a New Labour, following years of Tory rule. The fact that you could choose to appear in a photograph with one of these people, is a glimpse at how the photograph could be used as a symbol of support and solidarity. 

Obedient Numbers

If video killed the radio star, then digital killed analogue. The days of taking your roll of film to Boots, and collecting it an hour or a day later have long gone. Those who nostalgically want to hold on to the past might be heard saying that the rise of computing is responsible. Despite this accusation, Batchen (2002: 165) claims that, ever since their creation, both photography and computing were destined to converge by stating that, "the two technologies share a common history and embody comparable logics."

Why bother preparing a meal from scratch, when you can microwave a ready meal in a fraction of the time? Similarly, some artists prefer to use existing images rather than their own. They 'take' photographs instead of making photographs. And why wouldn't they? We live in a digital world where Shore (2014: 7) believes that, "The online environment is a key hunting-ground for acts of creative, transformative borrowing."