on faux-vintage photos.

December 3, 2011

When the hipstamatic and instagram apps came out, I was simultaneously enthusiastic at the photo-geekishness of the options, and saddened by the gimmicking of well known gimmicks.

This article both articulates those thoughts and expands on them:



The practice of communicating through pictures is something I already do–often.

I live 1200 miles from my parents, see, and they love sending me
pictures taken on their cell phones, and I send them photos as well.
We show each other what we are up to, or use pictures as a way to tell
a story of something that happened that is unusual. So, for my final
project, I have been communicating with my mom in what I call a “photo
conversation”. She sends me a photo, and I respond with a photo, and,
as with a real conversation, one who does not know the participants
may not be able to make the same connections between the pictures
(that is, the conversational thread).

What is important to me is the continuance of a visual conversation
over time–so far about 7 weeks–and that the compilation of that
conversation that can be viewed all at once.

To do this, I will be creating a small, simple accordion style book,
one that can be pulled apart and viewed as one continuous series of
pictures. There will be a single image per page. By the time I print
the images, in two weeks, I expect to have at least 80 images,
probably more.

The conversation will not be censored—so, if one repeats herself (my
mom sent the same picture twice), it will be so in the book form. This
is important because I want the characteristics of a real conversation
to remain intact; and sometimes one repeats herself, or starts a new
subject that seems random to an outsider, or picks up where she left
off at an earlier time. What is important is that I document the
conversation as it happened, and kind of like a journal–it gets kind
of messy, but I’m okay with that.

Week 11.

November 7, 2011

1.  I think that people need to be aware that once you put your pictures on the internet, they can be used totally out of context and for purposes you never imagined. For example–and this is mild–a couple years ago, I took a picture of my baby second cousin, and from the angle (and she was a newborn) she had the most insane crazy eyes you’ve ever seen. Bulging out of her face. Adorable and hilarious. Almost a year later, a friend I had not seen for months posted the same picture on my wall (on Facebook) and he had added lasers to the picture in photoshop, so it looked like the baby was shooting lasers out of her eyes like superman or something. Though I find the hole incident quite entertaining, I hesitate to show the laser-eye-baby picture to her mother, because I’m not sure she would approve. Though the consequences were not really bad, it shows that a picture of a child posted now can be taken out of context even years from now, and the person who put it on the internet will likely never know that the image was put in a different context.


2.  I think one of the problems of sexuality as represented on the internet is that it is not necessarily a “real” situation. Regardless of pornography, sexualized images are often in advertising on all kinds of websites, of celebrities or unknowns, and they are usually shown in very unrealistic ways. Sometimes, when I see these kinds of images while online (even on the news pages!) I feel as if someone else’s fantasy has intruded in my personal space, unsolicited, on my screen. Sexualized images are all over the internet, which is a public space. I have always understood sex to be an intimate experience, yet having all this imagery emerge on people’s facebook pictures or in the ads next to them, makes me wonder if anyone else feels the way that I do. Should sex appeal be the default way to sell? Anyways, I believe that if both those disseminating the sexualized images and the viewers are not thinking critically, false expectations of sexuality can become internalized in viewer’s personal reality.


3.  http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html

 After looking through this website a bit, I have come up with a few responses. First, the data presented is not complete: there should be adequate definitions of what is meant by terms like “pornography” and “adult,” so that it is clear what the data is measuring. Also, at the bottom the site states that the sources are credible “Statistics are compiled from the credible sources mentioned. In reality, statistics are hard to ascertain and may be estimated by local and regional worldwide sources.” Though the sources may be “credible” one can not simply cut and paste graphs without providing an adequate explanation as to the context of the data collection and an interpretation of the data–but this site does just that. There are no links anywhere near the graphs to the original studies; and there is not even a citation on any particular graph or table. Credibility can be claimed by anyone, but sources MUST be directly cited. Also, the overload of numbers and graphs seems to be to intentionally overwhelm the viewer, without any interest in the actual consequences of pornography. This site serves little to provide concrete knowledge about pornography, and it seems the intention is only to incite hysteria regarding the “takeover” of pornography on the internet all over the world.


4.  Some of people’s fears about teenagers and the internet are based on only a few extreme cases, such as cyber-bullying that caused a teen suicide. These instances are great news stories, but they do not necessarily speak for the uses of the internet by the whole population. The internet can be used as an open arena for aggression or for positive interaction–and so it is used for both. The distance caused by virtual interactions can be a good way for someone who is regularly shy to speak their mind; however they may not have anything nice to say. One of the biggest worries, at least to me, is that teens who put explicit images of themselves on the internet are setting themselves up for scandal in the future. When my mom was asked to hire a new employee, the first thing she did was check out what was public on their Facebook, and I believe this is becoming a much more common practice. You can only control your virtual audience so much, if at all.

I did not post pictures on the internet as a teenager. I had many many digital pictures, but I was never interested in the Myspace craze. I only got into Facebook because my sister moved far away, and then I moved away from home, so it was an easier way to keep in touch with many people. Now I post lots of pictures on Facebook and my blog(s), but I am very careful in what I choose to post, and try to be respectful of others who are in my pictures to only post what they would also deem appropriate. Just because you can post pictures of every aspect of your life and body, doesn’t mean you should.


5.  Technology has revealed that people who choose to hurt others will use whatever mode they have access to to do so. People talk crap about each other via internet chatting and messaging, send pictures of other people without permission, and even purposely misquote people. In terms of the hurtful use of photographs, technology does open the door for immediate dissemination to thousands, as opposed to whoever would see an image in its physical print form. In that sense, technologies of the internet and cell phones have amplified the effects of image use. However, the positive use of images through these same means has also been amplified, so it is hard to say, definitively, which side of the ethical line technology stands.


6.  I use picture messaging for communicating with my family and friends who live far away. I take pictures of things I find interesting or funny, or relate to some inside joke, etc. I take and send picture messaging with my phone several times a week (now that I’m using it for my final project), but normally I use it once a week or so.

Week 10.

November 7, 2011

1.  Stephen Marc discussed public art using his own work as examples of ways to make photographic works that benefit the community, can be produced large scale, and gave tips to help us make winning proposals. Stephen emphasized that a large body of work can take years to produce, and may never be complete. With his Transatlantic Railroad project, the final product was a published book–but complete pieces (digital montages) can be submitted for public art proposals, sold separately, etc. The act of going out and making work–interacting with many people in many cities, if done with the right attitude, will open up new opportunities in the future.

Stephen’s working process is very interesting to me. The use of digital montage to selectively take aspects of images and piece them together in a particular context is quite appealing to me. He combines photographs he took of people, photographs of historical photographs, photographs of historical documents, and photographs of historical places. All of these elements are tactfully compiled to compare and contrast the present and the past, and to bring awareness to local histories all over the country. Though I do not plan on traveling the country to photograph with his intensity, it is the use of digital technology to seamlessly layer these elements that I hope to incorporate into my working practice.


2.  When I was a child, my mom was the designated family photographer. My dad has a history of utterly destroying cameras, either by dropping them on concrete or in rivers. He also has been to known to use trash cans as the foreground for mountains (in spite of this, I actually find his pictures compelling, and he has since developed his use of composition via cell phone photography). We had professional pictures done a couple of times I remember, but the majority of photos from my childhood were school pictures and pictures taken for special events (holidays, birthdays, visiting Grandma, vacation, the first and last days of school, concerts/plays, etc.) I am not sure what kind of camera my mom used, but it was a some kind of simple point and shoot color film camera. We didn’t do much photo sharing, but she would have several copies of her favorites made so she could send one to grandma, put one on the fridge, frame one for dad’s office, etc.

There are fewer photographs of my dad as a kid than my mom–at least that I have seen. My dad had a large family, and lived in a small town in New Mexico. I don’t think there was much of a tradition of family photography in his family, at least in comparison to my mom’s family. My mom’s aunt and uncle never had kids, and he had this beautiful 16mm camera that he would use to document the nieces and nephews and his travels. He got into still photography too, and I think that the family was used to being photographed, and continued documenting events and random moments themselves.


3.  My mom went to college for interior design, and took a lot of art and design classes. She was the main picture-taker of the family. Sometimes she would dress me and my sisters up so that she could take a nice picture that she would give to my dad for his birthday. Or she would photograph us (the kids) in front of a building or mountain or wherever it was we had traveled to on a road trip, or when we moved she would take pictures of the house. Her main concern seemed to be the tasteful documentation of special moments, events, milestones. By the time I got my first digital camera, way back when, I became the designated family photographer (because I was always taking pictures anyway. The problem was, I was usually too distracted by everything else around me to take pictures of my actual loved ones! This has sort of changed, in that I deliberately photograph my family so I don’t miss out on my opportunities).


4.  My old family photos bring me back to times that I hardly remember, and to memories that I cherish. Since most of our family photos were during high points, the good times or when we were emerging from a transition (moving), looking at them brings positive feelings. It’s when I began photographing my own experiences that I remember more details about the situation that sometimes include negative memories. For example, times I took pictures and family members had been arguing, and even though they are smiling like all is well, I remember what happened outside of the frame.


5.  Now, I am the primary photographer in my family. Sometimes this is a lot of pressure, and it is super inconvenient that my family lives all over the country. However, when we get together I always take pictures of everyone, and usually hand off the camera for a group shot. My middle sister takes a lot more pictures now, since she got married and was missing out on family photographs she got a camera. Her pictures resemble my moms in that they are usually taken to document special events, when everyone’s dressed up, or travel. We don’t use film for family photography now, and cell phones are actually really important for our documentations of experience. We send each other pictures via email, and sometimes I give my family photo cds (my photos take up a lot more space than emails allow). Now some photos end up on facebook, but we don’t post everything (except my sister, I think she posts almost everything from a particular event). We definitely take a LOT more pictures than ever, since digital pictures are nearly free to share via internet, and you don’t feel quite so bad when the pictures don’t turn out well. There is less risk, less cost, and good quality digital photos have never been cheaper to produce.

Week 9.

November 7, 2011

Pets are members of my family, so I searched “Pet Family Photograph” I know I’m only supposed to post 5, but I couldn’t help myself!

Decorative Dumpster Day #2: Mac Premo’s Dumpster Project.

I thought this was a really interesting project–to document one’s collected objects as a kind of autobiography. I LOVE IT.

Making Some Progress.

November 6, 2011

Here is a quick update in regards to my final project:

The Exquisite Corpse project struck me in a number of ways, one being that the practice of communicating through pictures is something I already do. I live 1200 miles from my parents, see, and they love sending me pictures taken on their cell phones, and I send them photos as well. We show each other what we are up to, or use pictures as a way to tell a story of something that happened that is unusual. So, for my final project, I have been communicating with my mom in what I call a “photo conversation”. She sends me a photo, and I respond with a photo, and, as with a real conversation, one who does not know the participants may not be able to make the same connections between the pictures (that is, the conversational thread). What is important to me is the continuance of a visual conversation over time, so far about three weeks, and the compilation of that conversation that can be viewed all at once.

To do this, I will be creating a simple accordion style book, one that can be pulled apart and viewed as one continuous series of pictures. There will be 2 or 3 images per page, and I estimate at least 40 images, probably more. The conversation will not be censored—so, if one repeats herself (my mom sent the same picture twice), it will be so in the book form. This is important because I want the characteristics of a real conversation to remain intact; and sometimes one repeats herself, or starts a new subject that seems random to an outsider, or picks up where she left off at an earlier time.

This project may be expanded if I can rope in more volunteers—who will probably be close friends and family who I already interact with through cell phone pictures. Of course, in the case that they help me with this project, the number of pictures will be purposely amplified and created specifically for the purpose of conversation. If others participate, I will make each conversation into its own little book, since each will have a different number of pictures, and each is a separate interaction with a special person—also, the character of each person will show through the pictures that they share with me.

Normally, I would show some images from my photo conversation as a little sneak peak, however it seems more important to show the conversation in its entirety when it is completed. ….Sorry! But here is an example of what an accordion book looks like (though mine may be significantly less fancy looking):

Week 8.

October 16, 2011

This class has been a great source of information on how to deal with digital images, and a great source for thought on how images function in the digital realm. This blog has been an open space for me to speak my mind freely on everything discussed in class, and I greatly value the ability to read the blogs of other classmates. It is helpful to see how others are approaching each assignment and each aspect of class discussions. There is not a lot of time in class for everyone to express their opinions and thoughts, so having the ability to read more into each individual’s view is invaluable.

My ideas relating to my final project are still quite vague, but I am hoping to use a combination of collaborative photographs as well as ones I make as an individual. The use of images to communicate is very important to me. I communicate with my family with pictures all the time, and they do the same. I haven’t settled on my guidelines yet, but I want to display this communication in some sort of book form, relating to this idea of using digital pictures to talk to loved ones and vice versa.

About half way through each semester, I get very homesick. I start to miss fall at home in Washington, and I miss my family much more painfully than usual. To deal with the separation, I usually end up making artwork that relates to members of my family, or to the experience of being away from them. So, here are some pictures I took at home that simultaneously satisfy my need for a connection to Washington and make it’s void in more noticeable.

Week 7.

October 16, 2011

There are many societal advantages of digital creation and dissemination of images, and each come with a catch.

1) Freedom of the press. Governments that try to suppress freedom of speech w propaganda have less control; people share images and video of events etc without the permission of the government, so there is more accountability for institutions at fault. However, since these photos are taken and distributed by nonprofessionals,  their credibility may be just as questionable as there are no precautions to prevent extreme changes in the images that are untrue.

2) Ease and efficiency of digital reproduction. The development of digital technology has proven to be extremely cost effective when it comes to making photographs and using them. Digital images are cheaper to produce and reproduce. However, since pictures are so easy to reproduce and distribute digitally, especially through the internet, there has been great chaos and reconfiguring of copyright laws and their implications. The respect of intellectual property is often neglected by internet users, and many use photographs unethically and thoughtlessly, without attributing the maker.

3) Self publishing. Anyone can share images. (+) not as limited by publishers and the “system” of who can and can’t be published. (-) there is a LOT of garbage to weed through, since almost everyone who creates and disseminates digital images is less concerned with the quality of the images or the message the image conveys, and more concerned with getting a lot of images out at once. Even in a family vacation album on Facebook, for example, which is not intended to be high quality images, the viewer usually quickly clicks through a mass of images and stops on the most interesting ones. Those posting the albums don’t always weed through the images themselves, and present an edit containing their favorites, but instead upload everything that was on the memory card. This means the viewer has to simultaneously view and enjoy the images while creating their own edit, by either looking at a particular image longer than a second or by “liking” or commenting on it.

Personally, it is a good thing that anybody and everybody can digitally create and disseminate images. However, as a photography student, sometimes it is difficult to look at pictures my family and friends post without art criticisms floating in my head. I’m not just talking about technical quality here, but what these images say about this person and what they communicate visually–sometimes it is no where near what the author actually intended. Visual language in digital imagery seems to go unnoticed. Most people respond only to what the subject of the picture is or whether it is a “nice” picture, not whether it can mean something outside of what is in it.

My immediate family currently spans across 3 countries and 2 continents, so sharing pictures is very important to our communication with each other and keeping up with each other’s lives. We often send pictures via SMS messages, email, messages, and post pictures on Facebook. We connect across thousands of miles through still images. The same goes for my closest friends and I–we send each other pictures or post them to show what we have been up to, something we found strange, or something we came across that others would find interesting.

In my artistic practice, I try to post images of my work and works in progress on Facebook and my blog (similarslice.wordpress.com) and I also send them to family and friends who I think would be most interested. Last year I even did a photo project using cell phone pictures my dad sent me from work (in eastern Canada). Receiving and repurposing the images with new meaning was a means of connecting and responding to our relationship as father and daughter, as well as the vast distance between us.

Here are a few photoblogs that I have recently retrieved from cyberspace:


This blog has lots and lots of pictures. The photographer describes himself as a hobbiest. His pictures convey a sense of quiet curiosity in the surrounding things, and goes beyond random pictures of random things. Though there seems to be a tendency to use trendy color profiles to make things look cool, it is not used enough to be anything more than slightly irritating. That said, I wouldn’t mind looking at this blog often.


I found this blog very enjoyable to wander through. There are many photos taken in Europe, but the photographer does not show the token pictures of monuments and famous places; instead finding more abstract compositions that often utilize people in structure.


This site posts a photo, or a photo set, every single day. They have a great variety of images, so everyone can find something they find interesting. I liked the “uncategorized” category most, as the pictures do not fit strictly within other categories. As a viewer, you weren’t sure what to expect next, unlike visiting the “travel” or “landscape” categories.

We talked about several artists in class who use images from the internet in their artwork.

Elijah Gown has done several projects in which he uses pictures from the internet and physically and digitally alters them, to create new objects and to reassign meaning to them. One series he made, called Watering, used pictures of Christian baptisms in water to explore the human need to connect with nature and rituals. I found his process to be quite interesting because he prints out the digitally altered low-res images on paper, and then scans them to add the texture of fiber, which softens the imagery. The degradation of the imagery by processing it several times strips the images as documents and re-presents these scenes as the essence of a spiritual experience.

Jane Lindsay, a grad student here at ASU, is currently working on a project that also remakes images taken from the internet. There is a website that was created by a government agency (www.mcso.org) that posts mugshots of arrested persons–not convicted persons. The site encourages the humiliation and dehumanization of these people, and is not simply a public source for mugshots. Jane has been making tintype plates of dozens of these portraits, cutting out their names and any other information, and cutting them in circles to be placed in bottle caps. She thinks of the bottle caps as items that are discarded, as are the people in the portraits. Tintype is a historic process that was heavily used for portraiture in the 19th century; by using this labor intensive process and by giving each portrait special attention, she gives humanity back to the so-called criminals.

Week Six.

October 12, 2011

Google image search of the following words:  energy, merge, squander, ponder, frequent.

Energy.   Most images in this search were related to A) Renewable energy sources (wind and solar power) and B) Energy drinks. There were also numerous images of light trails (apparently light energy is the easiest to capture in a photograph. Go figure.) There were also a few images here and there that kind of seemed to fit, but in a less direct way.

I would have to say that the Eye of Sauron is my favorite, because it was entirely unexpected yet visually fits with many of the other images that came up in the search. And I’m a nerd.

Merge. The greater majority of images were screenshots. There were also a good number of street signs, as well as a few odd images here and there.

Squander. There doesn’t seem to be a certain kind of image that comes up in this search. There are a lot of images with people in them, and there are a lot with no people. Here are a few from the first page:

Ponder. Most of these are as expected, the typical “ponder” gesture of a hand on the chin or sitting on the edge of some fantastic nature scene. I was hoping for some more abstract images, but I suppose I would have to look much farther in the results to see that.

Frequent. I really did not know what to expect, but there were a lot of images related to travel (probably because of frequent flier miles) and then there were a lot of toilets. Then, like each search, there were a few outliers that make the search more interesting.

Google Search using an image. I searched using a picture of my bunny. The search results were very similar in color scheme and composition, and a few even had fluffy animals. I searched a few other of my pictures, and so far the program recognizes general shapes, composition (ie. centered), colors, and even textures. I am actually pretty excited to use this tool, and will probably spent a lot of time playing with it.