Photos: Unexpected Reconstitution [Esc]

Unexpected Reconstitution [Esc]

Unexpected Reconstitution [Esc] - 1

Unexpected Reconstitution [Esc] – 1

Photos taken on one camera of a second camera’s display screen whilst photographing glitches from YouTube displayed on a computer screen.

This piece incorporates a number of mediating techniques and “systematically distorted communication” [During, 2007: 100], such as taking the photo from the preview screen of another camera, commenting on the photographer’s gaze and the hyper-abundance of photography, in the “current era of cheap and ubiquitous cameras.” [Ritchin, 2013:128], as well the distortion of the image and unreliability of the content epitomised by the glitch, which naturally expresses “themes of failure, corruption, loss of memory, and brokenness in all its forms.” [Khaikin, 2014] This, within the context of appropriated footage from the ever-expanding unfiltered YouTube (as “over four billion hours of video are watched there every month” [Ritchin, 2013: 29] navigating this mass without some form of digital error is improbable) using footage from a fantasy film, exemplifying “Joyce called an “allnights newsery reel,” that substitutes a “reel” world for reality.” [McLuhan, 1964:193]

Though practically speaking, these are relatively straightforward images, they draw on a number of cultural and philosophical sources, informing practical responses to these themes effectively, whilst also producing aesthetic-driven images for a visual culture, picture for the late-stages of the ‘society of the spectacle.

The title is a combination of a reference to the original source material, clips from ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, and the reconstitution of images, much as one may encounter reconstituted meat, that has been reprocessed into an indefinite mulch, like spam; a fitting metaphor for the masses of irrelevant information available online (though spam referring to unwanted emails and so forth takes is name more from the Monty Python Spam sketch, now meaning an unwanted overload of various forms of data).

Aesthetically, some of the images resemble disjointed collages, with “fragmented, warped, and discolored” [Khaikin, 2014] familiar forms are partially distinguishable but are primarily abstract. The broken image of an person instantly suggests some aspect of a breaking or loss of individuality or a self in the chaotic medley of the contemporary machine age – undermining the principal of the photograph as a means of accurate representation, dehumanizing forms to make them appear inhuman, as if undergoing a reverse Turing test, convincing the viewer that what they are seeing is mechanical rather than original; both equally really in phenomenological landscape.



  • During, Simon. Encoding and Decdoing the Television Discourse, CCCS Stencilled Paper no. 7. In During, Simon (2007). The Cultural Studies Reader. 3rd Edition. Routledge.
  • McLuhan, Marshall (1964) Understanding Media. 1994 Edition. Routledge. Great Britain.
  • Ritchin, Fred. (2013) Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen. 1st Edition. Aperture.




Unexpected Reconstitution [Esc] - 2

Unexpected Reconstitution [Esc] – 2

Unexpected Reconstitution [Esc] - 4

Unexpected Reconstitution [Esc] – 4

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