Research Project: Automation

Excerpt from my essay:

Imagine technology as a train that constantly moves forward, as time does, according to our perception. Photography is a product of technology, in this example acting as a single coach, which is inherently synced with its direction, and shares many of its attributes.

In order to understand how photography has taken it’s current form and attempt to think of a possible future we have to trace its origin, and course in time. The principal concept of photography is situated in the camera obscura, where light enters a hole, travels through a darkened room, and projects onto a vertical plane. The second concept arising from the evolution of photography, replacing human actions, is Automation.

I described in the first post (Research Project: History of Photography) that throughout the evolution of the photographic apparatus there has been one element which is always present, and this is automation. Every effort of making a better camera , a lens, or recording medium led to more automated design. An example is the shutter, which replaced the hand of the photographer in front of the hole. The shutter beacame mechanical and automated. Coming to this conclusion was the result of reading several books, one of the called “Photographic Ar: Media and Disclosure” by Norman Peterson. In this book there is detailed analysis of photography as a medium and then discussion of the work of art. In the beginning there is a quote from the book Science and Technology written from Jonathon Benthall, which describes what photography meant when compared with its preceding medium, painting.

We have had difficulty in accommodating the procedures of photography within traditional aesthetic concepts. Photography Challenges our habitual of the control which artists are supposed, or were supposed, to have over their resources… In photography there is no plastic substance like paint or bronze which the artist manipulates and over which he is supposed to maintain a sort of total control… The artist’s hand is demoted from being a kind of organism in its own right and becomes a mere trigger or stabilizer.

It is this reason I think that photography was always considered as being an art and same time not being.

I traced in the book “Ubiquitous Photography” by Martin Hand many interesting points which I used in my essay. One of them was the fact that one medium is repositioning the previous, as I found in Amanda Griscom thesis. Although Martin Hand does not use Mcluhan’s theory, but Bruno Latour’s words from his essay ‘Where are the Missing Masses, Sociology of a Few Mundane Artefacts’.

The digital camera is the embodiment of over a century’s worth of photographic practice and knowledge, aesthetic conventions and expectations of specific genres. -Martin Hand

The camera enabled accumulation of experimental skills, the individualisation of the photographic process, and the generation of digital forms of expertise form the context for examining how non-human and human agency are redistributed in technological culture. -Bruno Latour

Here demonstrated by a more practical example:

Perhaps the most famous invention – the Kodak camera of 1888 – enabled a fundamental alteration of the relationships between photographer, camera and the subject, by removing any requirement to know how the camera or chemical process worked and, most importantly, any ability to produce images without training (Latour 1991)

All the above count in the same sense for digital photography which has incorporated all previous knowledge and technologies in a compact, highly automated design, which can and is, used by anyone.

It is this point that led me to assume that our the way we see the world is changing because of the increasing amount of cameras in our hands. We see the world more and more through screens, and according to Lev Manovich, the camera, the screen and 3D graphics are the computer’s equivalent to the sense of vision.

I have paying attention lately to talks and lectures from science fiction authors like Bruce Sterling and William Gibson, and to an extend I agree that their futuristic prophecies are possible because they have a great knowledge of the past and present. A very interesting story made as collaboration of Sterling and Chris Nakashima (Windsor Executive Solutions) features the characters in a world that every interaction they have is somewhat mediated by the computer. Also the fact that I have been reading more about the cyberculture pushed me to accept the notion of mediation though computers. After all it’s not to hard to believe. Most of us are already having conversations online with people you have never met face-to-face before and you will probably never meet.

Also another very interesting source is James Bridle’s much discussed blog The New Aesthetic, which is a collection of moments that the digital/virtual has informed the physical, even some times spilling out of the screen. In this blog you can find objects or art inpired by the digital age and it’s inherent attributes, as the pixels, the perfect order, the straight lines and so on.

Excerpt from my essay:

The rise of the world wide web expanded the reach of computation, connecting anything that is digital, enabling us, the operators, to communicate in more ways than the pre-internet media allowed. Since the photograph has transcended to its new form, it is compatible with the network.

Marshall Mcluhan thought of the media as the extensions of man. He believed that “any extension, whether of skin, hand, or foot, affects the whole psychic and social complex.”

Science-fiction author Cory Doctorow describes cars, airplanes, and the buildings we inhabit, “as computers we put our bodies into.”

Undeniably computers are becoming extensions of our own bodies that mediate our thoughts and actions. It is estimated a billion smartphones were sold just in 2013. These devices are connected and see the world through cameras. We use them to keep our memories, tell stories, search the internet, communicate with those we care. With them at hand we can extract fragments from the physical space, while bring to life experiences off the virtual.

Though cameras; are attached to any and every physical object. We use cameras in buildings and transportation for security, satellites and telescopes for observations, but also surveillance; we use cameras for military purposes by attaching them on robots and drones.

We train computers to analyse images and act on our behalf. Increasingly we rely on vast amount of digital imagery to tell us the truth, or show us the way.

“The direct observation of visible phenomena gives way to a tele-observation in which the observer has no immediate contact with the observed reality.” (Paul Virilio)

By examining in depth the nature of the photographic apparatus, it has been clear to me that its evolution didn’t give us just more ways to create images, but expanded our biological capabilities. We have certainly gained greater understanding of our current environment but only through the artificial construct. Therefore, this does not only raise questions relevant to the future of photography, but also the future of humanity in a mediated environment.

List of References:

Peterson, N. (1980) Photographic Art: Media and Disclosure. Michigan: UMI Research Press

Newhall, B. (1982) The History of Photography : From 1839 to The Present. London: Secker & Warburg

Latour B. (1992) ‘Where are the Missing Masses, Sociology of a Few Mundane Artefacts’. Shaping Technology-Building Society. Studies in Sociotechnical Change Wiebe Bijker and John Law (editors), MIT Press, Cambridge Mass. pp. 225-259

Mitchell, W. (1992) The Reconfigured Eye : Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era. Cambridge, MA. ; London: MIT Press

Manovich, L. (2001) The Language of New Media. Cambridge, Mass. ; London: MIT Press

Kember, S. (2003) ‘The Shadow Object’: Photography and Realism in The Photography Reader. ed. by Wells, L. ; London: 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

Bridle, J. (2011) The New Aesthetic [6 May 2011] available from <> [12 February 2014]

Bridle, J. (2011) The New Aesthetic: Waving at the Machines [online] available from <>, video at <> [12 February 2014]

Hand, M. (2012) Ubiquitous Photography [Digital Media And Societies Series]. Cambridge: Polity Press

Sterling, B. (2012) An Essay on the New Aesthetic. [2 April 2012] available from <> [12 February 2014]


Pixel Sorted Cory, For The Remix!


A series of photographs taken by Jonathan Worth of author Cory Doctorow are now available for you to remix, regenerate, and to make new art, especially in light of the themes and topics of his books.

Your challenge is to make something new out of the photos, or better yet, remix of someone else’s remix.

But we not only want you to make art, we want you to share the story behind it. Be sure to write up your work somewhere on the public web, license it under creative commons, tell the story of what it means or why you did it, cite the sources (e.g. links) to the image, and share how you made it.  Here’s HOW to write up and share your remix.

This is a new experiment in public art, and a new way of thinking about digital media. Who could be a better figure than an author who releases all of his published works under creative commons license with an open invitation to remix? Jonathan explains more about this project

Phonar Students Go FTR

This week Jonathan Worth’s phonar class at Coventry University are tasked with going For The Remix:
Alan Levine and I have been rearing this one for over a year but the time has finally come around to set it free.  You’re going to have to bring all of your Remix skilz to the table as well as your big brain contextual understanding – you’re going to need to read Cory’s booksand find out what the hell is grinding his gears.

This week we’ve  heard all about how Photojournalist Marcus Bleasdale’s collaborates in order to re-imagine his work and reach new audiences via new and unexplored channels, well that’s where we’re headed with this task. After you’ve read Cory and read about Cory you’ll use someone else’s images (mine) to hack,remix and transform into something awesome and for this Alan has rustled up a little space all of its own with some house rules and further instruction.

my remix!

I downloaded cory001.jpg /cory005.jpg film strips, chopped them to individual frames and stacked them in photoshop, colour graded using lookup tables, messed up the channels, exported the frames as animated gifs and pass them through Processing language, using Kim Asendorf’s ASDF Pixel Sort brilliant code (open-source), modified for gif file input version (open-source) from Sam Walker. The animated gifs below and the ones on my website are licensed under CC BY 3.0 which means you are free to use, share and remix! If you decided to remix drop me a tweet @joseph_kes or use hashtags #coryFTR #fortheremix. We ‘d love to see your remixes so submit here!

I am presenting these gifs in html+css as I feel they show better than just this blog post. Also, animated gifs usually are displayed by internet browsers.
You can view all 7 gifs at


also check this on copyright/licensing copied from the unphotographable post

credit where credit is due
I have been a supporter of Creative Commons for some time and use the licensing scheme for all of my published work. I am aware of the capacity for creation of the remix culture and appropriation, and always happy to see one using my photographs to enhance their story. What I have never done so far was to tap into the massive archives of online content. There are archives of music, sound, video, photographs and anything you can imagine licensed under more flexible terms than “All Rights Reserved” allows. Creative Commons is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s been around since 2001 (founded by Lawrence Lessig) and belongs to a network of license agreements, most software oriented (GNU GPL, BSD, MIT, ODbL, MPL), but all free. Richard Stallman, software freedom activist and computer programmer, argues the definition of “free as in freedom, not as free beer” (Gratis vs. Libre). In the same spirit Creative Commons has created variety of agreements than instead of reserving all the rights of the author on the work, are permissive. Think Creative Commons as pizza recipe. Attribution (abr. BY) is the base. The available toppings are as follows: Noncommercial (abr. NC) that blocks commercial use,  No Derivatives (abr. ND) which doesn’t allow any derivative works, Share Alike (abr. SA) asks for sharing under the same conditions.

Many creatives and artists have embraced the power of this way of licensing and internet companies too! Many user generated content websites have given multiple licensing options to the users, or better say producers of content, the most popular being Creative Commons. (YouTube and Vimeo, Soundcloud, Flickr /,,

Assignment 1 – 150MC

Encountering Culture
One of the objectives of this module is for you to begin to locate your own work within the various and far flung fields of photographic practice. This in itself is not a new idea; when the philosopher Plato (c.428-347 BC.) said “know thyself” he was in effect saying much the same; that we must locate ourselves within the world in order to validate our viewpoint of it.
To put that another way; we all see the world from an entirely socio/sexual/culturally unique perspective which will in turn dictate what and how we communicate as photographic artists. This assignment begins to address this directly by asking;
“ Are you in harmony or in conflict within the social structure that you are a part of?”

On the 14th of October I travelled to London in order to see my friends from Greece and because right the next day, on the 15th there was a demonstration
at the London Stock Exchange and a march from Hyde Park to the Houses of Parliament. Both were framed under the demonstrations organised worldwide in remembrance of the European uprising in May 2011.
Unfortunately for me, when the uprising started in Greece, I was still in Coventry listening everything off the radio or reading blogs and independent newsites. In a way I felt really bad I could not attend to help my fellow citizens. Happily they did great without me and manage to create and sustain a whole new situation only familiar to leftists and anarchists so far. Assemblies for discussing our political, economical and social issues, all together in no fear of the opposite, the different, the unknown.
People with different political backgrounds, or none at all, sat together on a square giving ideas, discussing and voting for the future of the assembly. Everyone was welcome, everyone could take the mic, and everyone could express freely his opinion. Assemblies formed in many cities of Greece and many other European cities each one dealing with local issues and of course the main issues of the country.

– The end of democracy as we knew it, the rights we are losing every day, the economical crisis, the enslavement of a nation, of all nations by the capital.

It ‘s absurd how just these pieces of fine print paper, called money, drag people into greed, vice, selfishness and ignorance. Does democracy got so integrated with capitalism that they can’t exist separate? The most amazing thing was that none of these people wanting to hear political preaching, party manifestations and that same old crap.

“We are done waiting from politicians.”
“Take our lives in our hands.”
These phrases were heard throughout Europe.

What started from Africa, passed to Spain, Italy, Greece and now all over Europe is a revolution against oppression, it’s actually the meaning of the words society, unity and real democracy. People discussing for the common issues in their lives, sharing knowledge, food, cars, equipment, expenses. All these absolutely free, in no need for profit and with a common goal; To live better like humans suppose to, be free, with no one ”representing” your needs, no super-capitalists in need for more money and slaves.
If you look up the word democracy on any dictionary you will find that the term comes from the word Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”, which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (Kratos) “power”. I don’t see power to the people, yet.

So I went at the demonstration with my friends. When we arrived, to our surprise we could not approach St. Paul’s cathedral, not because of the hundreds of thousands of people, but because the police had blockaded every way to the square in front of the cathedral. Police cars and buses blockading the streets, hundreds policemen in line blocking every gap the vehicles left. Two lines of police officers standing, before and after the vehicles. They called it the “neutral zone” or something that sounded equally ridiculous.

Is this a democratic “regime”?

We were lucky we weren’t beaten up and smoked or shot with plastic bullets, all of them action taken by the governments of Spain, Greece, Italy, U.S.A., as well as North Africa. Though in Africa people had the chance to experience real ammunition.

We finally managed to get in by a secret entrance the police had formed and allowed individuals in, after searching their bags in many instances. No one knew about that! The police kept saying “we follow orders… you can’t get in.”
When the assembly finished you could notice around you set up already many tents and special places for a kitchen, an infirmary, litter and recycling collection point (right at NatWest’s door). They decided to stay there for good! People met each other, discussed together solutions and ways to keep this thing going on. Before I knew, I found myself in a group discussion on how to get more people in. Several ideas and recommendations were heard. Similar discussions were held on other topics and of course on organisational issues like communications, food and water, toilets, technical support, first aid, legal support and many others.

One thing I can’t forget and wasn’t really comfortable was the press! I have never seen so many cameras in my life. They were there too, trying to get a piece of the pie. All they cared was to grab a couple of pictures, several minutes of video and then straight to broadcast the poorest reports I have heard. I stood aside many journalists to listen what they were recording and they had no idea what was going on. The problem though is that had they said was what you heard on the TV if you weren’t there to witness with your own eyes. They waited for their beloved moment. Action!
An arrest happens. In seconds you see journalists running towards the hand coughed man. About 10 police officers and another 60 journalists around this man. I don’t know what happened and I bet they didn’t know too. What matters is that man was publicly humiliated by the police and the press. This is the reason I only shot a roll that day. I didn’t go there to cover the “event” nor to make a photography project. I went there to participate and to give any experience I had from assemblies in Greece.

Don’t fool ourselves. The crisis right now is not in Greece, not in Europe but throughout the world. When the bankers try to impose their order over us, their financial hegemony over democracy, they will find us standing against them. We are in war, only this time the enemy is not holding a spear nor a gun. All these years we thought the politicians were our enemies. The bankers and the capitalists are our enemies. The politicians are just the traitors. We vote for them and give them our trust in order to sell us to the capital. It’s up to us to get rid of them, to regulate them, to make them work for us. Not being their slaves.

It’s evening and we decide to leave, but to our surprise (again) we can’t… Apparently new orders came in and we were not to leave that square! The blockade tightened more and we were restricted to the two thirds of the initial space we had. Huge electronic banners were set up announcing that under a… law, were not allowed to leave. We were somehow detained. I tried several exits but each officer said the same crap everyone was. When I said I going for it, I was told that if I tried I would get arrested.

That day in London was quite an experience. I would expect the government to oppress our fight with violence. They chose a more subtle way to disrupt our efforts for a mass protest. In other countries it would not be acceptable to have the police strolling around the assembly. I guess the way a society fights back depends on its anger and frustration. At the moment it seemed that we don’t share the same goals, but looking further I saw that after all we fight the same enemy.

I hope my report to be proof of mass media propaganda, unless you heard this side of the story on BBC. This report tries to reflect my feelings and experiences of that day, along with 10 photographic pieces created out of the photographs I took that day.

For these pictures I used:

Asahi Pentax KM

SMC Pentax 35mm f3.5
Tamron Zoom Macro 85-210mm f4.5

Ilford HP5+
ISO 400/27O