Thursday, May 10, 2007

Subject: New Communication Technologies
Code: 1501ART
Student: Andrew Lindsay
Student No: 1287534
Assessment Piece: 2- Essay

Digital Photography: Death or New Beginning
The Digital Revolution in Photography and its implications for Society

In 1839, faced with the invention of photography, Paul Delaroche is supposed to have declared, “From today, painting is dead!” A little over 150 years later, the issue of the ‘death of photography’ seems to be poised on the lips of theorists not only of photography, but of digital culture in general (Batchen 1994:47-50). The new era that mankind has entered- the information age- has been defined and is continuing to be defined by the transition from analogue technologies to digital. This transition has had a resounding impact on many facets of technology and, in effect, society, and none more so than the sphere of photography and photojournalism. Since the silicon sensor took over from the silver emulsion, there is no doubt that photography and photojournalism have undergone many fundamental changes as mediums and professions. The accessibility, economy, and ease of use, of digital cameras, and the fluidity with which digital images can be manipulated and morphed, has opened up the world of photography to the consumer, making everyone an amateur photographer, and even photojournalist, in their own right. However, in doing so, it seems to have undermined the very fibre that, up until the digital revolution, has lent the photographic image its power- that a picture never lies. The potential is that photography and photojournalism, as professions and mediums, are losing their credibility in the face of their own advancement. The debate of digital manipulation in photography also leads into deeper, more entrenched issues of a widespread identity crisis. The concern is that, as a society, we are entering a time when the lines of reality and simulation are blurring. The acceptance of digital manipulation may be taking a hand in opening up hitherto inviolable societal doors. Photography then, while in the midst of a major technological leap, is faced with two major anxieties: one technological, the other: epistemological (Batchen 1994: 47-50).
Since its invention, and particularly in the photojournalistic heyday of the 1940s and 50s, the photographic image has been viewed as the ultimate vehicle of truth. Sayings purporting the infallibility of the photographic image abound: ‘a picture never lies’, ‘a picture tells a thousand words’. However, the digital revolution has thrown this idea into contention. Ritchin (1999:xi) states that photography, “a medium that has been mythologised as being quazi-objective and historically reliable, has been restructured in the computer into pixels… it is no longer a reliable ‘trace’ from appearances but an initial sketch which can be and often is redrawn.” The concern is that the traditional sense of the photographer recording the social and physical world with a trained and impartial eye has, in the words of Lister (1995:3) “imploded into the small grey plastic box of the personal computer”, and that this had adversely effected the social functions and political responsibilities associated with the medium. Photographers are becoming thought of more and more as ‘image designers’ and “the meaningful link between the appearance of the world, and the precise configuration of a material image, can no longer be assumed” (Lister 1995:3).
Concerns regarding the manipulability of digital images have implications that reach farther than the erosion of credibility of the medium of photography and photojournalism. They lead into topics of a more fundamental and ethical nature and form an almost metaphorical parallel with many issues that are at the height of discussion and controversy in society today.
With digital technology, an image can be manipulated or orchestrated to fulfil any desire. This implication is especially dire in the world of photojournalism where the photographer has traditionally performed a watchdog role. For example, as a result of photojournalist’s images being relayed to the rest of the world, the actions of many an authoritarian regime have been brought under criticism from the world at large, and ultimately halted. If the fact-based currency of the photograph were undermined sufficiently, this watchdog effect would be devalued- the offending regime could simply claim that imagery had been faked (Ritchin 1999:4). In the face of technological advancement, “it may become more difficult to show a photograph of a victim of torture and expect anyone to be not only moved but convinced by it” (Ritchin 1999:4).
A very different, but equally relevant issue is that of how image manipulation can affect our views and attitudes towards ourselves. Ritchin (1999:xii), for instance, argues that: “genetic modification and cloning may become more acceptable with our growing familiarity with the results of image manipulation software.” It is inferred that if, in an image, a persons eye colours can be changed at a whim and wrinkles and blemishes can be erased, then the prospect of plastic surgery, or even genetic modification may seem less distant or obscure.
These issues converge into a fundamental underlying anxiety, that we as a society are entering a time when it is no longer possible to tell any instance of reality from its simulation (Batchen 1994:47). This issue ties in with a plethora of facets that have become part of our every day life: internet dating as opposed to meeting someone in a bar, chat rooms and text messages as replacement for real conversation, virtual reality in the place of real life experiences, computer generated imagery taking the place of real actors and settings, the mentality of ‘why go to a cricket game when you can get a better view from your living room’. As Robins (1996:3) states, “The proliferation of screen culture is now routinely associated with projections of the coming into being of a new order of simulated reality. Mundane realities and experiences seem to pale in comparison to dreams of virtual life and cyber-culture.”
“Digitisation, prosthetic and cosmetic surgery, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, virtual reality- each of these expanding fields of activity call into question the presumed separation of nature and culture, human and human, real and representation, truth and falsehood, on which our photographic epistemology has hitherto depended” (Batchen 1994:50). Therefore, in the very moment of a revolution in technology, perhaps we are in danger of losing our identity.
In light of these issues, there can be no doubt that the medium of photography is in the midst of a technological upheaval and a fundamental shift in our mindset regarding it. Proclamations of ‘the death of photography’ however, are perhaps misguided. While seeming to present dire implications for society as a whole, the digital revolution in photography is not without its positives. The stain on its credibility, that photojournalism is suffering at the hands of digital manipulation, inspires greater effort on the part of media organizations to answer and vouch for their content. The digital image, while being seen to endorse contentious issues in today’s society, has also opened up new doors for communication and commerce. What is necessary is not a condemnation or abandonment of the digital image, as a window on the world, but an increased awareness and consciousness regarding the identity of photography (Batchen 1994:50). We are faced then, not with the death of photography, but a ‘post-photographic’ era where large organizations and individuals must take responsibility for the trust that is placed in the image, and come to the realisation of the consequences if this trust is flouted. Whatever happens in the future of the photographic image, one thing is certain- photography will only cease to be a dominant element of modern life when the human desire to capture a moment is, itself, eclipsed.

List of References

Batchen, Geoffrey (2002) Each Wild Idea The MIT Press Massachusetts USA

Batchen, Geoffrey (1994), ‘Phantasm: Digital Imaging and the Death of Photography’ in Hawthorn, Booth (ed) Metamorphoses: Photography in the Digital Age Aperture Foundation Inc. New York: 47-50

Druckery, Timothy (ed) (1996) Electronic Culture: Technology and Visual Representation Aperture Foundation Inc. New York

Harrison, John and Hirst, Martin (2007) Communication and New Media Oxford Press Melbourne Australia

Holtzman, Steven (1997) Digital Mosaics: The Aesthetics of Cyberspace Simon and Schuster New York

Lister, Martin (ed) (1995) The Photographic Image in Digital Culture Routledge London

Manovich, Lev (1995) ‘The Paradoxes of Digital Photography’ Text

McRobbie, Dr Angela ‘Postmodernism and Popular Culture’,M1

Migga, Joseph ‘Ethical and Social Issues in the Information Age’,M1

Ritchin, Fred (1999) In Our Own Image Aperture Foundation Inc. New York

Robins, Kevin (1996) Into the Image: Culture and Politics in the Field of Vision Routledge London

Gross, Larry, Katz, John Stewart and Ruby, Judy ‘Image Ethics in the Digital Age’

Saturday, May 5, 2007

week six- Photoshop part 2

This week I have tried to create my own images to embody the themes stipulated in our turorial tasks. I have used some of my own images and some sourced from the net and manipulated them in Photoshop to create the final outcome. Enjoy...

This is an image of a horse trainer that I worked with for a few years, and one of his beautiful Andalusian horses- Iberico. He treats all of his horses like friends and I thought this image was particularly appropriate because it demonstrates the fact that friendship not only existes between human and human. I layed the main image over a different background to give it a serene feel. The main image was taken with apentax 35mm camera and then scanned to disc.

This is a colaboration of images that I sourced on the net demonstrating communication. Each element of the composite is a seperate image- the satekite dish the spaceship, the night sky, the circular star trails, and the laser beam. I cut them out in photoshop and layed them over each other to create the final image.

This is a picture of the Murray River which I created by cutting out the river bed and inserting a desert scene, making the river look dry and barren. This is representative of the very prominent and newsworthy issue in Australia at the moment- drought, water shortage and the drying up of out water resources. The Murray River realy does look similar to this in some parts...

This is a montage of images from two very popular films, one modern- The Matrix and one not so modern- La Dolce Vida. I thought it representative of popular culture for both ours and our parents generations. To create this image I siply cut out the woman and layed the image over the top of the background image.

I created this montage out of some images of my own and some from the net. By applying masks to the seperate layers and then using the gradient tool I blended one image into the next to create this montage of Australian landscapes. The surf shot and the rainforest I took myself with a Canon 400D digital SLR and the other two I sourced from the net.

Instead of just using an image of one celebrity, I decided to create a celebrity hybrid, or mutant, if you will, out of Brooke Burke, 50Cent, some random dude with his hand on his crouch, Ashton Kutcher, and a squid (Not sure where that came from!) I think it speaks for itself...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Week five Tute task: Image posting and Photoshop.

This is aimage that I took in Christchurch, New Zealand with a Canon D60 Digital SLR Camera. I thought it was a good image as kind of an antithesis to high tech as it is obviously low tech being a world war 2 era spitfire. The plane was actually on a stand which I cloned out in Photoshop to give the appearance that it is
flying very close (I guess the stationary propeller is a bit of a give away though).

This is a photo of some very inebriated mates at a party few months ago, I think it speaks for itself.

This is an image by a well known humanitarian photographer Kevin Evans who is based on the Sunshine Coast. The image exemplifies news for me because it is an image taken in Northern Uganda in the civil war- a topic that is very current and should be more wellknown...

This image was taken by a friend of mine with an olympus camera down at Burleigh Heads- What can I say, surf, sun- summer all over.

I think this is a little unconventional- A letterbox near where I was living in New Zealand a couple of years ago. Taken with a Canon D60

Lastly, this image I pilfered from the web which exemplifies uni life- was going to take one of the mess that usualy festoons my desk but it was surprisingly neat at the time of publishing and was not nearly so impressive...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Scavenger hunt questions, search engines & What to do for my Essay?

Hello everyone and welcome to my latest posting. Well here we are in week four already (how did that happen?) and probably like many of you, or perhaps not, I am beginning to enter a mild state of panic whenever I think about the amount of work that I have to catch up on for uni. So I have written off my entire saturday and half of my sunday to get up to speed. Alas, its a glorious day outside and I can only have eyes for my computer screen and text books... not to worry.

I'd like to hear everyone elses thoughts about this weeks lecture with the two guest lectures from Square 1 PR. I thought it was interesting and a good little insight into the world of running a pr company and as someone who is reasonably business and entrepreneurially minded myself, I found the girls very inspiring in that they have gone out there and built their company from scratch and are making a success of it.
I'm just not sure how relevant it was to NCT??? I guess the connection is that both PR and NCT are closely linked with Journalism and communication but I think they are completely different spheres. Of course, many communications technologies are employed by PR companies but no more than any other compan I would think...

And what is a blackberry anyway?

So, in regards to this questionably productive exercise in internet usage, this scavenger hunt, I have posted my contribution below:

1. Weight of worlds largest pumpkin- 1502 pounds-

2. Grant Hackett contact- Live journal-

3. Length of Giraffe's tongue- 27inches-

4. Ontology- The specification of a conceptualisation, the study or concern of what type of things exist- what entities exist in the universe-

5. Davis Cronnenburg's first feature film- as far as I could find- 'Crines of th Future' (1970)-

6. original 'Hacker's Manifesto- January 1986 by 'The Mentor'-

7. Why 555 numbers?- The prefix was reserved for TV and movies use so the viewing public wouldn't harass real phone customers when they were looking to speak with their favorite stars.-

8. Cheapest form of travel from Crete to Rhodes- by ferry but couldn't track down a price-

9. Top song of the Australian Pop Charts this week in 1965- 'I'll Never Find Another You' , The Seekers

10. Steve Stockwell band- The Balck Assassins-

So on to more productive persuits...

What is a search engine?

A search engine is an information retrieval system designed to help search and find information on the world wide web.
A search engine includes: A. a spider (also called a "crawler" or a "bot") that goes to every page on every Web site that wants to be searchable and reads it, using hypertext links on each page to discover and read a site's other pages,
B. a program that creates a huge index from the pages that have been read and C. a program that receives your search request, compares it to the entries in the index, and returns results to you

How do search engines rank the stuff they find on the internet?

Search engine basicaly rank the pages they find according to thier deemed relevancy by assessing the frequency and location of elevant keywords in the body of text on a webpage. Those with the highest frequncy of relevany key words or phrases as close as possible to the top of the text are placed at the top of the search results.

Who or what makes one page more useful than another one, so that it is put at the top of your search results?

A search engine takes all the webpages that it has found to have matching keywords to your search, and ranks them according which it deems to be most relevant by the location and frequency of the keywords and places the most relevant at the top. So, it is the search engine that decides what page are most relevant to your search. This is not a foolproof system, however, by the number of seemingly irrelevant page that often pop up in a search. This is because unfortunately, search engines don't have the ability to ask a few questions to focus your search. They can only go on the information they are given. They also can't rely on judgment and past experience to rank web pages, in the way humans could.
It is also up to the weppage designer to make sure that thier page contains the best and most logical keywords that will rank thier page in an appropriate search. This will stop it popping up in irrelevant places.

What are some of your favourite search engines and Why?

At the risk of being unoriginal, I use google almost exclusively for searches. I think it is the most user friendly and clearly laid out. I like simplicity in webpages without lots of distracting links and adds. I guess this is why google is the most popular.

Current news stories about Search Engines.

Wikipedia Becomes Intelligence Tool And Target For Jihadists-;jsessionid=XTPWGMHVLW3IMQSNDLPSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleID=198500163&subSection=

Yahoo Updates Widget Platform;jsessionid=XTPWGMHVLW3IMQSNDLPSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleID=198500207&subSection=

Coupa Brings Look To E-Procurement;jsessionid=XTPWGMHVLW3IMQSNDLPSKH0CJUNN2JVN?articleID=198100609&subSection=

Federal judge dismisses suit attacking Google's search rankings

As my primary interest in the course that I'm studying is journalism, I'm planning on examining in my essay How the development of communication technologies has changes and impacted on traditional journalism.

Journal Articles

The Impact of Technology on Journalism
John Pavlik
Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
This article, after a preliminary perusal, I've foun this article to be very usefull and relevant to my topic. It deals with four aspects of the journalism industry- journalistic method, news content, newsroom structure, and the relationship between media organisations, the journalists who write thier news and the public sphere who consumes it.

Moving Toward Participatory Journalism
Dan Gillmor
Also, looks to be very usefull, concerned with how the irise of interactive media such as the net is impacting on news practice and content.

What is multimedia journalism?
Mark Deuze
Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
This article looks, again, at the impact of development in multimedia in journalistic practice and how this impact effects news professionals view and perception of themselves and thier profession.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Hi, My name is Andrew.

So small talk out of the way first. I'm a part time student here at Griffith doing a Bachelor of arts with intentions of majoring in Journalism and Communications. I have long had an interest in writing and journalsim, english being the only subject at school that I was better than average at, and first studied for a Bachelor of Journalism at UQ after school (about seven or eight years ago). I never got very far with it however as I decided to go traveling for a few years, but always meant to come back to uni once I settled in one spot again. Well, this I have done and it is for this reason that I have decided to do this course.

I'am a passionate photographer and a keen, if somewhat intermittent, writer and I fit uni in around a fulltime job as a photographer with a multimedia production house called Photo & Film - I'm also building my own photography business which at the moment revolves around photographing at equestrian events on the weekends and also producing several lines of postcards giftcards etc. Its just in the early stages and equates to a lot of work but is going well and there's lotsmore I plan on doing with the business. Check out my site- (ok, I know the home page blurb is a bit pretentious but you have to talk yourself up right?) In addition to this I do a bit of modest freelance photojournalism for various magazines and have had a few pieces published mainly in the spheres of equestrian sports and outdoors/climbing/adventure etc.

So that is my professional life in a nutshell.

This course so far seems like it will be an interesting journey. I am only a newcomer to the world of computers and communication technology, not having used them much before the last couple of years. So im looking forward to sinking my teeth into the topics and hopefully learning a bit more on the subject wich will be very valuable to my work aswell. Photoshop will be a peice of cake :)