Article "Machines, Methods, and Humans: On the Production Line of Contemporary Photography" is published in Fotografija 35, no. 1 (2018). This is a special edition of the magazine “New Tools in Photography: From Google to the Algorithm” edited by Paul Paper. Cover art by Mantas Grigaitis.
If I were to curate a show of contemporary photography in 2018, I would first consult the photographers’ Instagram galleries instead of their artist’s statements and biographies. All that matters in photography today exists on the cloud and on the Internet. At the same time, there is also something archaic about photography. I like to think of photography as a typical nineteenth-century invention, a relic from the same era when people obsessed with recording, reproducing, and transmitting images and sound. The computer is a product of the same nineteenth century whose recurring theme was delegating all kinds of work to a machine. Relationship between humans and the machine has always been at the core of comprehending photography. The advent of digital photography added yet another layer of mechanization, pairing the camera with computer. It is tempting to highlight the profound changes that such pairing has brought. But enough has been said about the “newness” of these changes. Metaphorically speaking, today’s photography merges past and future. It combines the most advanced technologies and concepts with those that have emerged long ago. In this article, I am interested in connecting contemporary practices with concepts that predate the digital era and have a potential of subverting the mainstream critique of today’s visual culture.
This issue of Fotografija magazine is part of exhibition “New Tools in Photography: From Google to the Algorithm” that took place in two locations in Lithuania: VAA Nida Art Colony (September 4 - 9, 2018) and Vilnius Photography Gallery (September 14 - October 13, 2018).