How the conditions of the post photographic era relate to a particular area or institution of photography. Advertising and Fashion.
Continuous Partial Attention,
Bombardment of images
Everyone is a photographer, curator, marketing agent, advertiser, subject. Amateur Fashion blogs.
Professional change of role or disappearing.
Post photographic refers to the change from Analog or traditional photography to digital photography or imagery as it is not always a photograph. In a way it is no different from how it was believed photography would be the end of painting. However the evolution of digital photography must be tied in also to many other modern developments from digital sound, Internet Web. The medium has certainly evolved from the subject matter we photograph, to the way it is displayed and consumed. As semiotics was originally used to allow us to understand the undercurrents or intentions of image makers we now must look at algorithms and how we consume imagery. Its subconscious effect. It has been discussed widely the effects of young girls or women looking at the constant stream of thin models on magazine covers and billboards and its leading to low self esteem at best an Anorexia at its more extreme. We know that advertisements are meant to encourage us to buy things to create a desire to do this and yet as intelligent, education populations we do not often question this. We are constantly bombarded with images from them moment we awaken on our phones that we carry with us all day, we take a bus or car anywhere we see billboards, television subtle or not so subtle items or lifestyles are sold to us. One image moves on to the next perhaps some are arresting but mostly it is like a dripping tap of images. It must have an effect on our minds. The most recent phenomenon of Facebook “selfies”, beautiful coffee shots on our instagram or a glass of wine at a beautiful location. We have become pawns in the advertising world. We have been so exposed to it that we no longer know where it ends or where we begin.
In the preface of “motivation and personality” Maslow 1987. It is mentioned that the human being must always have something to aspire to a higher purpose which is fundamental to our functioning as human beings. If we achieve this and do not have a further aspiration than this can lead to boredom or aimlessness and generally unhappiness. It is worth questioning our digital networking and social media liking, sharing and our digital connections with hundreds of digital friends. What are we aspiring to. How much of our day is taken up with this activity. Is it merely a distraction we are living in a state of continuous Partial Attention to use the phrase originally coined by Linda Stone. Our selfies and images taken of our food, our environment. The fact that we walk around with pocket camera/ computers and can record our daily lives must also have a purpose. There are many online projects and blogs which have a purpose to connect communities …. help others in similar situations of difficulty or try to highlight social issues. However lets look mostly at our mimicking of advertisements. A set of semiotics originally understood for imagery we now mimic, we do this each time we take a picture of ourselves showing off our clothes, hair, makeup, location, lifestyle we are mimicking what we have seen for most of our lives all around us. We do not have a heightened awareness of the corporate, social and political ideas that we are reinforcing.
We have turned our selves into marketing and advertising kings. Constantly reinforcing the types of images that we see in advertisements on billboards, our phone and computer screens. We like share promote everything we see. We do not feel we are being pushed into buying items but the constant bombardment of such images means that we are part of a network of people showing looking what I have, look how I look, wear the clothes I wear and look and feel good. We are advertising a consumer environment no matter what it is. We are mimicking advertisements so in some cases photographers, advertisers and even models feel they have been replaced by those who have their own blogs. The reality is there is a shift a bit like reality TV whereby supposed real people living real lives. Blogs follow this line whereby when we look at a blog of a peer who is fashionable, has a successful happy life we aspire to be them and so we buy into the idea. However each pose or image of food or a handbag is mimicked on a subconscious imagery we have from being constantly exposed. Therefore those who have blogs will still subconsciously looking at fashion magazines and runway shows for inspiration even if they do not realise how much influence it has on them.
Digital has changed many platforms initially allowing unknown artists to gain recognition. This has been seen also in the fashion world with bloggers with an article in Vogue recently criticising bloggers for their way of approaching fashion as if there was only one traditional way. Professional photographers complaining about how anyone with a camera can be published. Perhaps in the traditional sense things have changed but whether it is positive or negative on society can be debated in many ways. But it must be discussed. “Network behaviours, of both data and human users, circumvent and challenge representational hierarchies established by analogue media and this is as much the case for museum collection and display as it is for journalism, record or entertainment.” :97 Lister 2013.
Lets look at a prosumer theory :Ritzer and Jurgenson 2010, whereby consumers where turned into producers or workers earliest exaples of this are fast food restaurants whereby one adds their own dressings to their dishes, carries it to their seat and when done returns the tray and empties the debris into the bin. Or whereby one puts fuel in their own car. To take this into the digital culture for example sites like Facebook whereby the people create communities, groups, chats and so on the consumer also carries out all the work. Sites like Flickr whereby people upload their own photographs without any payment. Trip adviser whereby tourists put up comments and advice about their travel experience and rate it. Thus meaning the site managers do not need to create articles or photographs it is all done by the consumers of the site and at a pace and reliability that any website creator would find hard to keep up with.
“It is difficult to accept that we have entered a new stage of capitalism. Rather it appears that capitalists ahve found another group of people – byyond workers (producters) – to exploit and a new source of surplus value. In this case capitalism has merely done what it has always done – found yet another way to expand (others are globally, as well as colonising the minds and bodies of those involed in the system)” However are consumers being exploited to the extent we believe, yes in the case of photography as that is what I am looking at in this case. We the consumer choose to upload images of our lives, goods we use, comment on experiences and share this online. However although we are helping a capitalist system ie the creators of a social network like facebook or Instagram to create and to earn money we are also using their systems for free. For example Facebook allows us to network and connect with people in much the same way as a telephone or post did but it is a free service. Instagram allows creatives to share their ideas and to gain ideas along with Pinterest for example. Although this essay is a discussion on the differences between consumer, producer and the term prosumer, it brings us to how amateur photographer use these sites and this can refer to writing, photography and many other fields to practice their work sometimes offering it for free but others to launch a career. This includes bloggers who eventually have an influence and become paid for the goods they promote on their blogs etc. However not all of us are deliberately trying to promote ourselves in a way to gain money or recognition. Many of the images posted online are unconsciously reinforcing a capitalist and consumerist culture unknown to them. Copying poses of models, copying styles of advertisements.
Lets go back to the essay by Umberto Eco “the photograph” the shutting down of a radio station during the 1977 student revolutions. While the police are knocking down the door of the radio station amid all this the broadcaster describes it on air as like a scene from a movie. Why is it that life seems like a movie. Eco describes how
“understanding the mechanisms of the symbolic in which we move means being political. Not understanding them leads to mistaken politics. Of course, it is also a mistake to reduce political and economic events to mere symbolic mechanisms; but it is equally wrong to ignore this dimension.” In recent times we have seen
Kate Moss images taken in the 1990’s by Mario Testino of the model in her appartment in a seemingly every day life. These are no different from these days advertisers using professional models to create seemingly candid amateur selfies or instagram style shots. While bloggers often try to mimic images of high fashion. Umberto Eco looks at how even before film in his essay he references before Nadar and the Lumiere brothers, pagan carvings or the illuminated manuscripts of the apocalypse.
Lets go back to the exercise at the beginning of this course. A short film of all the images seen in one day recording and played at a pace so fast that we cannot even really absorb it. Who is influencing who.
Case Study American Apparel. American apparel was much criticised for its use of what seemed like teenage girls in semi porn voyeuristic poses. Many of their adds were banned. Looking at the advertisements that were so offensive they were banned did not shock me at all they looked like a stream of images I have seen on Instagram of young girls and women just do a net search of instagram models. Who is mimicking who should Instagram be banned too. It is likely that a combination of all the images on Instagram have more influence on the viewers than the combination of a decade of American Apparel advertisements.
Maslow, A. (1897) Motivation and personality, New York: Longman
Ritzer G. And Jurgenson, (2010) ‘production, consumption, prosumption: The Nature of capitalism in the age of the digital “prosumer” , Journal of consumer culture.
https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/sep/12/american-apparel-banned-advert-shock First Accessed April 14th 2017.
Liz Wells the photogrpahy reader Ch 14 “the photograph” by Umberto Eco. 2003 Routlege Oxon.
http://www.esquire.com/style/mens-fashion/g2442/american-apparel-ads/ (First accessed 14/04/2017/ Examples of style of advertisement for American Apparel
http://www.dolcegabbana.com/woman/advertising-campaign/ first accessed 14/04/2017.
Ritchin F. (2008) After Photography, New York W.W. Norton & Company Inc.
https://lindastone.net/qa/continuous-partial-attention/ (first accessed April 10th 2017)