Mobile Photography: not drowning, waving.

As camera phones and portable imaging devices proliferate our public
and private spaces, it would appear that our relationship with photography
is shifting to fit the parameters of a digital world. In a landscape of networked
immediacy, photographs have become as much about the present as they are the past.
Many of these online photographs are used to position us within the immediate
present, they are entertainment for others, and a confirmation of our existence.

‘I photograph, therefore I am’ has become the mantra of the Internet. The author has
become the subject, whether seen or unseen, and the visual aesthetic has arguably
given way to a networked narcissism which demands ongoing validation of our current
status (see Facebook).

Based on conversations with friends and students, it would appear that many of
these digital photos are never printed and are constantly edited, re-purposed
and then deleted when they lose their currency. These images are also very much
a form of communication, so to save them would be like saving a recording of
your voice each time you made a phone call.

Rather than simple documents of our past, these online photos belong to
the here and now, they are like flags to be waved across the globe, bobbing up
like beacons on social software applications. As a visual artist, I believe these
images exist somewhere between writing and photography. They are both
autobiographical and voyeuristic, mapping the points where lives intersect
on a map that is constantly being redefined and renegotiated over time.

Photographs on twitter, facebook, etc provide an avenue to share our experiences
as they happen, for it seems that in a world with much talk about an ambiguous
future, it is the present that is perhaps more seductive than collecting family histories
for an uncertain future past. But in a sea of online voices and avatars, these digital
photos are like hands breaking the waves, they are reminders of the physical world
and our need to talk about human experience. Such photos are the evidence of our
endeavours and adventures.

In her post ‘Drifting in Streets’ my colleague Marousia examines the ways
in which we are using mobile media to navigate and re-imagine the city.
She also looks at how mobile photography is  continuing to  be more
integrated into our daily communications across the digital networks.
Camera phones are shaping our experiences and arguably establishing new
forms of communication whereby images are used to promote immediacy and
set the scene for the drama of the everyday.

Below are some examples of my own mobile photography.


~ by Dean on December 18, 2010.

2 Responses to “Mobile Photography: not drowning, waving.”

  1. […] or even never noticed. The images we take, as Modernistdream  points out in his post called Mobile Photography: not drowning waving lie in between writing and photography: “But in a sea of online voices and avatars, these […]

  2. “to save them would be like saving a recording of
    your voice each time you made a phone call”

    You make a very good point here. As an addicted walker-iPhonographer, I imagine my tweeted photos as simply being part of the conversation – partly documentary, partly an effort to frame my mindspace for the people I’m interacting with. I do the same with music when I can. Yesterday I was sitting in an old cafe in Saigon, tweeting with people I follow. I took a picture, but I also noted that this particular cafe only ever plays one type of music. French pop hits from the 60’s. No one in the cafe sees the irony in the fact that an establishment in Vietnam is actively encouraging a nostalgia for an ex-colonizer’s music. I tweeted a link to one of the songs they play over and over again because sound can, at times, utterly seal a mood.

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