Thomas Ruff, “jpeg ny02,” 2004, chromogenic print
Photography has always had the potential to democratise images, but it has seldom worked out that way in practice. Digital imaging has made image-making devices ubiquitous. Many more people now possess the means to make images more of the time. At the same time, images are primarily used, in the public image environment, to influence public opinion and encourage the consumption of products and services. What is the relation between these two phenomena: near universal private image-making capability and widespread manipulation through public images?
I used to think that more people making images would necessarily lead to more conscious image reception, but I’m less sure of that now. It seems that it’s possible to make images as unconsciously as one consumes them, bypassing the critical sense entirely. One of the main culprits here is time pollution, or “the pollution of temporal distance” that Paul Virilio writes about. To regain our liberty (and our distance), we must slow the images down.