Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Expanded Pictures

Dec 10, 2014 - Sarah Straßmann

For my last post I would like to share my PhD project, which is a theoretical and practical artistic research project, that I started in 2011 and continue to develop. By that way: With thanks again to Der Greif for their ongoing support and for this nice blogging opportunity ! The work »Expanded Pictures« represents the results of an artistic-scientific experiment and therefore analyses in regard to the theoretical as well as the artistic discourse the contemporary significance of photographic pictures in the context of mobile photography, Internet and online social networks. Is there a new void within contemporary photography - the photographic image itself? Are there possibly new differing associations, which can be spotted on the stereotypy of those umpteen digital pictures? Theory The theoretical part of the thesis deals with the theories of visual stereotypes and theories of photography in the discourse of performative cultures. Within the debate about visual stereotypes the question arises whether it is possible to recognize approaches to form a new global canon so that global standards within the Internet - Photography are given distinction e.g. by established western discourses? If this is the case, we would have to deal with stereotypical images (»indeterminacy spots«) in a wider range. In addition to the examination of visual stereotypes an examination concerning the term “non-permanent images” takes place in context of digital photography, Internet and social media. Liquid and non-permanent, these are the features that define the differences between the new instant digital photography compared to traditional photography. Without losing the function of documentary evidence, what the digital snapshot documented will be insignificant in a paradoxical way. The fast action between the moment and its recording there is neither a stopping nor an individual pose - the process of photography itself seems to be a performative act while the images themselves advance to indeterminacy spots or stereotypes. These new snapshots consist also of many particular »lights« (pixels), which posted on the Internet pop up on a screen before they disappear again. Those are liquid images, which show up by pressing a bottom and perish again. The following assumption was formulated as a principle of this investigation: Across the Internet and social media networks there is a new indeterminacy spot (void), the digital photo itself. Artistic test arrangement DF Portrait Archiv (since now 20 Lambda-Prints on Alu-Dibond, 30x40 cm) The first step of the artistic investigation, that was taken, was to search, through Internet and consequently within the so called online social networks for photographs, that are similar in their aesthetics. It was limited to profile photos of young women from online networks such as Facebook that are characterized by a recurring gesture and were usually taken by mobile phones. Chosen out of the found material were some images, trimmed digital and with a size of 30x40 cm as digital photo prints illuminated and mounted on Alu-Dibond. Videoloop / interactive Installation (Computer + 8 Monitors, handling instruction, mobiles of the viewers) A further step of the research work is to include the viewer of this work into the process of collecting instant mobile photos. In an interactive installation consisting of computers, projectors and video loop are played part of the available portrait archive. There can be observed the change from one portrait to the other through the increase of pixels of single images. The viewers are able to use special designed software to supply their own taken portrait photos via mobile phone in the installation. Still during the exhibition those pictures become part of the presentation and will be shown in the loop. Almost at the same moment these new pictures become one with all the mass of the other portrait pictures – they seem to disappear in the digital flood of images. Scatter Faces (7 Lightjet-Prints on Alu-Dibond framed 90x90 cm) Within the final step in the work »Expanded Pictures« some of the collected portraits which were taken out of the initiated portrait archive, were transformed with an advanced filter. The colour spectra and pixel become visible, the portrait disappears. This part of the work reduces the pictures to their origin: the colour spectra (CMYK) and pixel correspond to the characteristic of the underlying portrait image (Scatter Faces / DF Portraits 01-07). Far from any documentary or imaging feature a total new inside into the »Universe of technical images« opens up to the viewer because of the generated photographs. Surrounded by an undefined black image space, the coloured pixel swarms might evoke associations of space, underwater scenes or other individual memories of the viewer.

BBK Berlin: Lecture networking meeting „Medienwerkstatt Berlin“

Bauhaus Uni-Weimar: Ph.D. Fine Art