It would be an understatement to say we are surrounded by photography. We produce, curate, consume, archive and share photography simultaneously. Our activities around images have shaped a sense of belonging and relationship with our environment, with each other and with the very technology that enable image production and circulation. It is this new relationship with photography that has changed the medium in all forms. If we are to discuss photography today, we have to take into consideration a much larger ecosystem enabling us to form a diverse relationship with the world of photography. Lev Manovich says that we need new ways of understanding the word ‘photographic’ even though we live in a ‘photographic culture.’ The three essays I have put together are a reflection on what photography is becoming and how we could begin to understand the medium within its contemporary moment beyond strict adherence to our expectations from it.
In the essay, Macro Your Shot: Citizen Scientists go ‘Frogging’ in the Western Ghats and on Social Media, Dr. Aileen Blaney explores ways in which easier access to photography tools and dissemination of images through social media has contributed to knowledge production around frog species in the Western Ghats of India. Through various interviews, Dr. Blaney, discusses ways in which photography and numerous image sharing social media platforms have brought together multiple stakeholders that add to the larger conservation aims of the amphibian species in the Ghats.
Anisha Baid in the essay, Screen as Image – Notes on Screenshot Photography, focuses on the conceptual possibilities of screenshot photography through anonymous photographers and image circulation online. Taking from the vocabulary of photography, Baid articulates screenshot photography as ‘re-framing the screen’ and theorizes the screen as an intrinsic part of photography – not only a tool to look at the image, but an apparatus that is the image in itself.
Nihaal Faizal’s essay, Luminous Enhancements, looks at two separate examples of image manipulation, AI and photorealism beyond the scope of lens-based technology. In talking about the image of the Andromeda Galaxy, a default desktop background in Mac OS X Lion 10.7 and the ‘Moon Mode’ in the android P30 Pro Huawei phones, Faizal questions the ontology of photography within the new networks dependent not on the logic of seeing, but on the logic of the photograph and the conditions of its existence.
All three essays, though very different in theme, tie together with a common thread of new ways of looking at what photography could mean today. We have known photography as document upon which a moment of time and space get recorded. However, today, photographic meaning is beyond the 2D nature of an image as a moment in passing of light. There is a growing need to engage with the changing medium of photography along with the new ecosystems that add to what the medium has become. I hope these three essays contribute and shed light on some of these themes.
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PhotoSouthAsia is honored to welcome Chinar Shah as Guest Editor. Here Shah introduces her selected topic, which is addressed by her team of invited essayists:
Aileen Blaney: Macro Your Shot
Anisha Baid: Screen as Image - Notes on Screenshot Photography
Nihaal Faizal: Luminous Enhancements
Copyright © Chinar Shah
Chinar Shah is an artist, writer and an academic. She is the founder of Home Sweet Home, an exhibition series that uses domestic spaces to show works of art. She has received grants from the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation, Pronto - Göteborg Stad Kultur of the city of Gothenburg and AHRC, UK. Shah is an artist in a UKRI grant under their Global Challenge Research Fund, 2019. She taught photography and visual arts at the Srishti Institute for Art, Design and Technology, in Bangalore, India, and is co-editor of Photography in India: From Archives to Contemporary Practice (Bloomsbury, UK, 2018).