As film and other traditional methods of photography continue to decline in use and availability, we are confronted by a proliferation of digital technology for the production and dissemination of images. Walter Benjamin famously observed that the photographic medium, with its potential for faithful reproduction by mechanical means, is a medium uniquely suited to the purposes of public exhibition compared to other visual art forms such as paintings that exist as singular cult objects.
Now that the means of production and distribution have progressed from mechanical to digital, the potential for public exhibition has increased exponentially. These developments represent not only a quantitative, but also a qualitative shift in the meaning and perception of photography and photography’s role in shaping the greater art-scape.
In the age of information, we are rarely confronted by a singular image, or even a cohesive sequence of images forming a linear narrative. Rather we are bombarded in a milieu of multimedia where the photographic image coexists alongside visual, audio and text based stimuli. Through the database structure of the internet, hyperlinking, metadata and sorting by user-driven algorithms, the viewer is empowered to create their own personal nonlinear narrative.—Mike Patterson
Mike Patterson, a graduate student at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), is working to expand the vocabulary of photography to accommodate the new ways in which images are produced, distributed and viewed in the age of new media.