Design Observer – The Infinite Warehouse of Images

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In this article by Rick Poynor, he talks about the overwhelming amount of images available to us through the internet and contrasts them to some old postcards he recently acquired.

There is an interesting contrast between the quick snapshots we are inundated with online from Facebook and Flickr and the carefully considered postcards from years ago. I did not find the postcards interesting at first; I glanced at them and skimmed past them to the writing. But when Poynor started dissecting the images and showing details of them, they became fascinating, minute worlds.

It was an interesting moment where I checked myself and had to reassess what I had skimmed over. I do this skimming with many images I see. It is probably safe to say I skim all images. There are so many images available to me now, it would be impossible to carefully consider each one.

I found the installation Poynor talks about at the Foam photography gallery in Amsterdam really interesting. Erik Kessels’s Photography in Abundance looks at the abundance of images available to us at every moment of every day. The installation is a ‘snapshot’ of every image that is uploaded to photo-sharing website Flickr in a 24 hour period. Kessels says that he visualizes the feeling of drowning in representations of other people’s experiences.

Kessels work is inherently controversial in how it deals with (or doesn’t) copyright issues and the sheer amount of paper that is “wasted” to print all these images off. It is such a simple idea and although I shudder at the idea of all those trees dying ‘unnecessarily’, I am also kind of glad that someone had the means to do this (imagine the expense!), because I think this is a concept that you do not truly understand until you see it physically in front of you – or in a photograph.

I found these articles very relevant to me as a photographer, and especially photography today, in order to consider how people view images now. We talked in class about how to make your work stand out as a maker; how can you catch someone’s attention and make them stop and consider your work without glazing over. How do you jolt someone out of the skim?

Poynor’s article caused me to look up Kessels work. I had to know what a room full of photographs would look like. I could only imagine. And I could not help but wonder if there were any of my images in that sea of experience.

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One response »

  1. “How do you jolt someone out of the skim?” Excellent question, Ms. Anger. It’s funny how this article applies equally well to SART 3480 and the reading (consuming vs regarding images). I think installations like this ultimately points to the fact that most people conflate seeing with photographic seeing–but the two are very, very different.

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