vintage photo of 2 women at the beach

media-archaeology-11 working with other peoples photos–we take too many pictures what if we unleashed the infinitude of existing images to tell our own new stories with has the story already been told

photo of a young woman in a fountain. She seems to be having an epiphany. Or perhaps dancing in an ecstatic state.

Media Archaeology 11 – Working with other people’s photos

In this activity course we’ll plunder the Public Domain and Creative Commons licensed images to be the illustrations for new stories we write, or are inspired to imagine by these images. Perhaps a contemporary image. Perhaps and old image of a child who’s long since grown and perhaps already passed. Or mysterious avatar adventures in the virtual world of your choice.

140 years ago the collodion process used “wet plates.” You packed your mule with a tent, camera, tripod, sheets of glass, and chemicals. At the end of a long day you had 1 picture. Today we upload about 2 billion photos every single day! Who needs that many photos!? Is it pointless to ever snap another photo??

Other People’s Memories

I went to a party at my friend Ben’s house last weekend. I met this charismatic woman Anne there. Anne talked about how much she loved to go hiking. And that when she hikes, she never brings a camera. She doesn’t want the mediation and distraction of the camera to diminish her experience. Instead Anne just walks, taking her own “mental” snapshots of her journey.

When she gets home she does something unique: she goes online and finds other people’s photos of the place she walked, and shares them with her friends on Facebook! She reasons that her walk was uninterrupted, and that somebody else’s photos of the place she was are just as good for sharing her trip with friends as anything she would have snapped herself.

1.8 Billion Pictures

Anne made me consider the reality that we just take too many pictures! As of May 2014 the total number of pix uploaded per day was estimated to be 1.8 billion. Per day! Who needs that many pictures!? In 2007 James Hays & Alexei Efros of Carnegie Mellon University created “Scene Completion,” a very clever algorithm that searches a million flickr images to find the “missing” or “bad” parts of your image and “fix” it. But like Anne’s “fake” hiking photos, Hays & Efros algorithm begs the questions: if we’ve already got a million photos of “your vacation,” why do you need to take more? For Scene Completion to work, we already have to have a ridiculously redundant number of photos! Why take more!?

Recycle! Reduce! Reuse!

Media Archaeology 11Working With Other People’s Photos
Date & Time: Friday 22 May 6:30-7:30pm & Saturday 23 May 10:30 – 11:30am (Same content both days. Pick whichever is most convenient)
Location: Ama Ree’s Studio @ Nostradamus-1

vintage photo of 2 women at the beach

Notes:

1.8 billion photos / day
Scene Completion

Images:

Embrace by remediate.this
Epiphany by Loizeau
Thank you for enabling social production by using a Creative Commons license on Flickr!

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