Photography: Obscura – V – Banal Curiosity
by Beauchamp Art
Images from a computer screen: of my Tumblr Dashboard, the ‘Art’ tagged page, and a collection of my previous photographs from Flickr – projected through an exposed 18-55mm camera lens as a camera obscure, mostly photographed on a small piece of cartridge paper, using the varied optical effects of two blocks of transparent plastic.
These were created using a similar technique as previous series; such as the use of the transparent plastic to diffract images [Refracture Aperture, Plastic Diffusion, Plastic Apex] along side the use of the loose camera lens as an obscura [first experimented with in Obscura – III – Camera and more constructively in Obscura – IV – Exterior]. This has been used in order to portray an aspect of the Internet most chaotic, that of its scale; the ability to scroll for near infinity, to hop between pages plotlessly; endlessless, and for to be an unending sense of incompletion. An unfulfilled exploration, coupled with a drip-fed sense of satisfaction from the mild stimulation of one’s mental capacities by the on-going overload of images that may blur together into an ambiguous, abominable mass; a conglomeration of ever interconnect things, detached from their origins and source materials, lost in the ether of the internet.
By using reference to images of one’s own work [III, VIII-XII], I hope to have not indulgent in narcissistic self-reflection and thereby masturbatory self-aggrandisement, but exemplifying myself as typifying an individual whose efforts are readily dismissed (due to the insignificance of individual and the overall resulting banality). By Re-photographing one’s own images, though a convoluted reprocessing of pictures, it also always refers to be made to ideas in previous works. Such as in VIII, in which the eyes of MySpace Tom stare down at the viewer from the centre of the in-focus frame; harking back to concepts of ephemerally and paranoia. With the images from other source seen through the Tumblr interface, the triviality of pop-culture fashions also metaphorically passed. Comic book characters (such as can be observed in IV & VII) imply pulp literature, and the Pop-Art of Roy Lichtenstein in his Whaam!, the banality of mediated image, the futility of materiality and innate worthlessness.
It is worth noting that the working title for this series was ‘(Never Ending) Work In Progress (Benign Curiosity’; more of a comment on the lack of impact that is ascertain when observing images on such a scale, such a regularity as the internet allows. As well as a reference to the process of creating this and previous works, that may initiate a sense of existential worthlessness to the process of making art in response to the intriguing optical observations one makes on the micro aspects of the interaction one may have with technology.
Attention is a paramount concern within this series; attention itself is a magnifying glass, but one cannot hold one’s gaze on infinity, there has to be a considerable amount of filtering by the individual to comprehend the overwhelming hellish ravenous glut of images one may encounter. Hence, the problematic nature of the information overload, in which “a constant aurality resulting in a pervasive deafness.” [Kahn, 1999, 201] The exponentially ever-expanding electronic archive may have the capacity to contain an abhorrently colossal amount of information, but its navigation it a potentially nightmarish/specialised task.
As the individual mind may struggle to comprehend the potential ubiquity of the mass data exchange enable in the Age of the Network, as a result of the mass communication technologies brought about over the last hundred years, coming out of the rapid acceleration of developments in the Industrial Revolution, a great deal of selective mediation may be required. However, one has to query the intention of any form of third-party arbitration, selective disclosure and control of information may inevitably result in the establishment of a greater hierarchy of knowledge. Knowledgeablity may become irrelevant, and the navigation of an over-abundance of knowledge a more pressing requirement for the basis of valuing understanding.
In these images; the banality of images could be observed to be being illustrated, especially commenting on the homogeny of the presentation of art online; both one’s own and the general populous; in an online, (socially-driven) environment. An infinite legacy may be quashed by it expansiveness, rendering original happenings as non-events. “The sense of immersion in noise is guaranteed by the ease through which so much can be perceived within it.” [Kahn, 1999: 31] One may get lost in the Cloud, in its inescapable formlessness; the projected; perceive, and personal self: becoming hazy; immersed in an electronic existence that extends one’s own, giving it immortality and meaninglessness. Not only may the self, but one’s creative outlet may be lost within the noise; “as we distribute and decentralize out subjectivity into prosthetic agents, we hold onto hope that we won’t lose sight of what distinguished us in the first place.” [Hunt. In Antonelli, 2011: 52]. The fracturing of the transparent plastic forms echoes this un-concrete, placeless, sense of virtuality in the subjective landscape of the seemingly bodiless Internet; its walls made of data, its scale ever magnanimous.
Being Tumblr-Famous means nothing but to be undead for a short while.
Hunt, Jamer. Nervous Sytems and Anxious Infrastructures. In Antonelli, Paola (2011) Talk to Me: Design and the Communication Between People and Objects. The Museum of Modern Art. New York
Kahn, Douglas. (1999) Noise, Water, Meat. MIT Press.