Reflective Report / Evaluation

joseph kesisoglou
click through the image to be directed to virual exhibition.

I have been researching for over two years the impact of informational media on society, with a specific focus on photography and the internet. In the same time I am photographing subjects that depict portions of enormous global networks, that are either infra-structurally invisible or mundane and ordinary, that we fail to notice them. For my final project I am exhibiting a set of images from this extended body of work, as framed prints in a gallery.

The previous research undertaken for the photographic symposium has helped me identify the medium’s limits but also the extended history. The research undertaken and also the extended two year period I have been doing this project, can be reflected in this final piece. On the way there were many difficulties, ranging from the logistics behind the project, to crucial curatorial decisions. There were multiple instances that I could not photograph because I could not have a window seat, or having the wing within the frame. I will seek with this body of work to prove my passion for the current subject of communications and networks built by humans and hopefully, it could work as a key to unlock, inaccessible locations.

I have based my work on classic principles of the documentary discipline, but with a modern twist, since it is informed in various instances by practitioners and artists like Simon Norfolk, Edward Burtynsky, Rob Hornstra, Richard Mosse and Trevor Paglen. I have been taking in interesting aspects of their practice, or simply specific bodies of work, selected for the mediums the utilise, the language used, the research undertaken and aesthetics. The same time my work is inspired by more traditional photogaphers like Ansel Adams, Bernd and Hilla Becher, other practitioners within the New Topographics and of course Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work.

As I previously mentioned in Definition and Mapping of final project I have deliberately targeted a wider audience, utilising visual aesthetics that can easily attract one. I some way it subversive, that my photographs could seem to document skies and clouds, but only act as front to the major project undertaken in the background. The same time are appealing to photography collectors, a means to fund the the rest of the project, and get this work under attention.

I have printed 6 images for the purpose of this exhibition. All photographs are printed of high quality photographic paper, clear white mat at 240gsm. In order to give the photographs an appropriate companion, I collaborated with a local framer that created 4 bespoke wooden frames, with white finish, glass, and preservation backing. It wasn’t the cheapest way to go, but I had decided from the beginning that if these photographs where to be exhibited in a white wall gallery, they have to adapt to the medium. This is the reason I will only be printing a limited number of 10 for the whole set, at 420x420mm. The prices are yet to be announced, but interest have been noted already, even before the exhibition opening night. On the time being, the set can also be viewed at the virtual exhibition, Alex Edwards and I developed, and download lower resolution copies from my flickr account under Creative Commons licensing.

Final Photographic Project Information

As explained in the previous post I am presenting only a part of the whole project which still doesn’t have a name, but certainly identified its objectives. I am documenting the vast network of air transport around the globe, a project that will take a significant amount of time since access has been limited so far, only as a traveler, and it is highly unlikely it will increase due to strict regulations. This doesn’t mean though I will not attempt to gain access through standard procedures. To this end, I am hoping that exhibiting this project could create an opportunity to approach the spaces of interest.

Two years ago, when I began photographing Ground Support Equipment, I did not have this in mind, and it only occur to me that air transportation is basically a network. Landing points are nodes of the network, that have many similarities with the internet protocols. An airport is an intelligent building that makes several operations by utilising several other sub-networks. An internet router works using the technique of storing and forwarding information. My previous background in electronics and telecommunications has been mixed with principles of documentary photography, and sociopolitical interest.

Soon after I graduate, I am planing to publish a book acting as introductory point.. Every published body of work will be a chapter of the greater project on the invisible or mundane/ordinary networks that we have been built around the planet. I am not expecting to keep a visual coherency throughout the chapters of the project, because each one is unique and looks at the same subject from different angles, so it needs to be presented and the most complementing way possible, either this is print or electronic media.

The body of work I am exhibiting at the Lanchester Gallery, Coventry 30th May – 5th June 2014 (digital exhibition at the img19.org website) is going to take the form of prints, since the visual aesthetics of the set, define this as the most suitable way to present in a white wall gallery.

This is body of work is still situated within a variation of social documentary discipline. In a conventional sense, social documentary has always been a documentation of disadvantaged people, as in war, poverty, natural disasters etc. On the contrary, I am interpreting the term as being the traces of human activity and the impact on society by giant power structures and networks. Primarily this project is exploring authority, social control, either state or corporate, and communication as an integral part of human evolution within social structures.

I am currently pulling in the research a broad selection of literature spanning from politics, philosophy, history, media and communications theories, systems and network theories as well as sociology.

I have been looking the works of political scientist Francis Fukuyama (The End of History and The Last Man), texts from Guy Debord (Society of The Spectacle), Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (A Thousand Plateaus), Antonio Negri (Empire) Paul Virilio (War and Cinema, The Information Bomb), media theory from Marshall McLuhan and Jürgen Habermas, science fiction writings from William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick. As well as many net criticism and cyber space texts. At the moment the material are very broad, but that will not be an issue once I start make connections between them.

Final Photographic Project / Change of direction

Initially I had chosen to work with the concept of intellectual property (references), its cognitive, artistic and legal  manifestations, using mediums of informational dissemination spanning from the mechanical to the electric age, according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan, but as we have come to currently call the “age of information” or the “networked age”. Through prior research (bibliography) on the evolution of photography aligned with technological advancements I have reached to the conclusion that photography is a tool for communication and expression of intellectual wealth.

The practice of photography is currently manifested in networked apparatus that allow for instant dissemination, surpassing the outdated legal frameworks, which in my opinion impede the creation of new artistic expressions, culture dissemination, ideas sharing and are obsolete when it comes to intellectual property, since a creation of the mind is classified as a property the same way a building is.

In the time available, I wouldn’t have been able to accurately create an installation that would address and challenge the existence of any legal frameworks concerning the intellect. I have gathered a good amount of academic texts and literature addressing the topic from several angles, and will rest the project until I have more time in my hands.

I have decided then to move forward with another project I have been developing for the past two years. This is an ongoing project, documenting many different subjects in and around airports, which means that it will become more than one project in the end. Since I travel a lot by plane, I was intrigued by the infrastructural complexity and technological convergence, that consist the airport. Having a strong interest in telecommunications and networks, airplanes is one of the most spectacular trans-global networks, than physically connect locations on and off this planet. In my personal quest to understand the social impact of informational media networks, like the internet, it is crucial to understand how predecessor networks operated, and their impact in society, in terms of politics, culture, business and environment.

Out of this large and yet undefined body of work, I have selected a set of photographs that document the skies from within commercial flights. The specific set of photographs has been photographed between June 2013 and April 2014. I first published an edit of the set between June and September 2013 on my flickr account and ever since they have been viewed several hundred times.

below the initial set of photographs: