by Élène Tremblay
Curator Joan Fontcuberta’s idea of bringing together artists who explore the post-photographic condition for this edition of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal is especially pertinent in light of William J. Mitchell’s The Reconfigured Eye, published in 1992.1 We have clearly entered an era in which, as Mitchell underlined, digital technology not only has challenged both the status of the photographic image as document and the belief in its veracity, but has also modified its modes of production and reception. The proliferation of images made by amateurs on cell phones and immediately shared on the Internet, image search capabilities, and copying and pasting have had impacts that have yet to be investigated. This state of affairs corresponds, as Fontcuberta notes, to a second rupture or digital revolution, provoked by the appearance of social networks and mobile technologies.
In the post-photographic era, we consume images no longer on paper, but on various types of screens. The image is electronic, luminous, quickly replaced by another in a whirlpool of images. They come to us organized no longer only by artist or theme, but also by our navigation habits, displayed by search-engine algorithms. Not only are amateur photographs proliferating, but new genres and practices are being created and old genres are reinvented: the self-portrait has become the selfie, with its repeated “duck faces”; the slide show, remote-control tourism via Google Street View and Google Earth; photographs of what one eats in restaurants; obituary pages on Facebook, and much more.
Fontcuberta rightly posits that this proliferation of images – their production, publication, and appropriation by one and all – throws into question the notions of artwork and artist, as well as the authority of “image experts,” critics, curators, and professors, as Web users create their own groupings of images in Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, Facebook, and YouTube. His proposition explores all of these questions and refers us, through a mirror effect, to the world of images that we create and consume today. Most of the practices that he has brought together involve documentation on and collection of images existing on the Internet that take account of, problematize, and challenge these new uses and forms of presentation of photography…
Translated by Käthe Roth
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