I am exploring digital imaging perspective of extra dimensions and added layers of information, that is off course when compared to photography. Digital images are packaged with a separate data-set that is the same time important and useless. Assuming that the primary data-set is the numerical values representing the pixels, the order, brightness, colour channels, file type (header), then metadata is secondary. Metadata vary from the most common, as in time and date of acquisition, file size (bytes), file dimensions (in pixels), geographic tagging ( in longitude, latitude coordinates), compression (algorithm – JPEG), bit depth, resolution (in dots/pixel) and many other which are not always important, as the camera body and lens S/N codes, IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) and copyright information. More recently technology a different kind of information can be recorded. The light field information, by special light-field cameras.
Below is a text I wrote for the final presentation:
A photograph’s existence in the new environment is immaterial. The digitally produced image is no longer a result of chemical reactions fixed on paper, but the conversion of light into electric current, symbolised by numerical code, visualised on a grid of pixels. A photograph is no longer a physical object bound by the laws of gravity, but millions of picture elements dictated by those of electricity. The nature of this environment has given opportunity for the photograph to exist beyond the boundaries of its frame. The digital image is a collection of numbers in virtual boxes. Unlike the analogue photograph, they contain more than a representation of reality. They hold non-visual data vital to the existence of an image. These are also known as metadata. They are responsible for making the photograph compatible with the computational environment.There is a variety of metadata input fields as, time of acquisition; or the geographical location. Other describe attributes of the object, that is the image, while other of the physical and virtual environment it was generated in.Metadata is information embedded within the object, but not the image. They serve as a mediator between humans and computers. Therefore becoming a semantic layer, enhancing the meaning of the visual layer.
The semantic layer is structured as such, that both humans and computers understand. It is a very strict language that does not leave room for alternative interpretations. The way I perceive it is as if we are adapting to the computer, rather than the opposite. Our relationship with the virtual environment is achieved through semantics and simulations, think of your personal computer.
Borrowing from the way we describe the web today, because of it’s links and references I could describe the Photograph as Semantic.
As I explain, the image has adapted to laws of its new environment, which is why we can communicate photographs over the Internet. I explored the foundations of the world wide web and attempted to make connections with photography. As I still look things from a media theory point of view, and since Mcluhan’s writing on media has influenced me I thought exploring Ted Nelson’s concepts was very important.
One of the first mediums to be digitized was text. Since the only equivalent at the time was the paper document it borrowed its form along with its limits. Though the abilities of the computer are beyond the “prison of the print medium”. The concept of text that exists beyond the boundaries of paper, is what we call hypertext. The term was coined by Ted Nelson and refers to a form of electronic text, a radically new information technology, and a mode of publication. In his book, Literary Machines, he explains how relevant documents can be connected in real time, by hyperlinks. The more commonly known as links, in conjunction with hypertext documents, form the World Wide Web.
Although Ted Nelson’s concept is found underlying the World Wide Web, it was never fully implemented. According to him, hypertext is been exactly as we use paper documents, instead of harvesting the true capabilities of the medium. This is an issue associated with any new invention, that replaces, or repositions the previous. A great example is the first automobiles, that looked exactly a carriages without the horses. Hence their name horseless carriage, which today we just call car.
I will also remind you that before the World Wide Web another author had described the book in terms we describe the web today.
Michel Foucault points out in The Archeology of Knowledge that “The frontiers of a book are never clear-cut: beyond the title, the first lines, and the last full stop, beyond its internal configuration and its autonomous form, it is caught up in a system of references to other books, other texts, other sentences: it is a node within a network.”
Finally I will present a few quotes that I think are important in the context of the photograph existing in a new environment, a networked one.
Reading through Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” I discovered a profound quote from french poet and philosopher Paul Valery on the future of photography. Benjamin’s essay was published in 1936.
“Just as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our houses from far off to satisfy our need in response to a minimal effort, so we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a sign” (Paul Valery)
List of References:
Benjamin, W. (1936) The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. London: Penguin 
Valery, P. (1964) Aesthetics. New York: Pantheon Books
Foucault, M. (1972) The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Tavistock Publications
Nelson, T. (1981) Literary Machines: The report on, and of, Project Xanadu concerning word processing, electronic publishing, hypertext, thinkertoys, tomorrow’s intellectual revolution, and certain other topics including knowledge, education and freedom. Mindful Press, Sausalito, California
Griscom, A. (1996) Trends of Anarchy and Hierarchy: Comparing the Cultural Repercussions of Print and Digital Media. [online] Thesis (Honors). Rhode Island: Brown University <http://www.cyberartsweb.org/cpace/infotech/asg/contents.html> [09 January 2014]
Manovich, L. (2003) The Paradoxes of Digital Photography in The Photography Reader. ed. by Wells, L. ; London: Routledge
Nelson, T. (2008) Ted Nelson demonstrates Xanadu Space [online] available from <http://youtu.be/En_2T7KH6RA> [12 February 2014]
Ritchin, F. (2009) After Photography. New York; London: W.W. Norton
Nelson T. (2011) Selected Material from Computer Lib/Dream Machines in The New Media and Technocultures Reader. ed. by Giddings, S., Lister, M. Abingdon ; New York: Routledge
Lister, M. (2011) ‘Photography In The Age Of Electronic Imaging’ in The New Media and Technocultures Reader. ed. by Giddings, S., Lister, M. Abingdon ; New York: Routledge
Ritchin, F. (2013) Bending The Frame. New York: Aperture