Photos: City – III – Streets in Pixels
by Beauchamp Art
These photographs show pictures taken from ground look up and through the Leeds cityscape as displayed at various scales on a computer screen.
By transferring the position of the camera to street level, from inside the motorcar, one’s perspective shifts from the over-watching eyes of the spectator, to a more civilian point-of-view, though still not pedestrianized by the original photograph being within the security of the transport machine.
The moving photographer also adds dynamism to the original picture that clashes with fixity of the re-photographed image.
There is still little evidence of human forms within the environments, the car thereby substituting the person, their vast number blurring together into a crowd of indistinguishable shapes and lights. Whereas the pixels must be seen collectively to be defined, objects themselves must be mentally isolated to be understood, then read as part of their collective environment. The picture flattens all to the same level of data over the whole image. The shifting focus of the camera disturbs the screen surface, giving it a false depth, and subsequently embodying the images displayed with a third dimension that is not compatible with the original images, only partially relating to the subjective image, but otherwise a sense of depth within the image is lost by the mediation. The stereoscopic seeing of side-by-side eyes is disharmonious with the flat layering of the re-photographed digital image.
The excessive detail of the image structure, and the kinaesthetic placelessness of the picture taken in motion of the busy city could be seen as examples of the problematic nature of the hyper-speed as a product of modernity; from industrialisation to digitisation. As Susan Sontag observed, “Ours is a culture based on excesses, on overproduction; the result is a steady loss of sharpness in our sensory experience.” [Sontag, S. (1966) Against Interpretation, London: Vintage]
Moreover, as these pictures were taken within the frame of not only a screen but software designed to make adjustments [Bridge], they depict an environment of flux. Indeed, whilst adjusting colour levels, as much of the shape of the image is defined by the RGB sub-pixels, by merely modifying the luminance of a certain tonal range within the adjustment software, one may create the illusion of movement, provoking further artificial movement through manipulation of optical means. The reliability of what is being seen, and the nature of the true image, and even the true seeing may thus be called into question.
The display, the software, the screen, the camera, the phone, the window, the air itself are all mediating actors, it is making sense of the scene and navigating the world in a logical and comprehensible manner that is a constant subconscious challenge. Through these works, and others like them, I hope to draw attention to this mental filtering and traversing of heavily moderated information; visual or otherwise.