"The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to preserve the autonomy and individuality of his existence in the face of overwhelming social forces, of historical heritage, of external culture, and of the technique of life" – Georg Simmel, The Metropolis and Mental Life
Inherit within all of us is a real sense of who we are as individuals, how we have come into being and what it is that has shaped us. We are quite certain of what it is we look like, how we behave and how we identify with our sense of self. For most of us, we are fully aware of how we might be perceived by an external world. The photographic image is what helps us confirm mostly what we already know about ourselves, but it also has the power to take us somewhere else. It is immersed with ‘otherness.’ It carries with it multiple connections, sets of data which we retrieve through fabricated associations.
Today, the photographic image is a digital amalgamation loaded with ‘embedded indebtedness’. It carries with it far more than just an Abby Warbug moment of ‘bilderfahrzeuge’. It is far more than just a vehicle for transporting culture or history; far more than a transmigratory object for the proliferation of aesthetics, politics, emotions. The image has evolved. It has become interactive. It has developed new survival skills. It has mutated into a data-collecting responsive interface with the capability of recording our habits, collecting our likes, sharing the things we share, the places we go, the things we see. And through a series of integrated connections, it comments on what we consume, the things we ingest. Hito Steyerl suggest that this rapid metamorphosis might be due to the image’s ability to undergo “countless transfers and reformattings” and that we should consider an alternative function or value to images, one that is “defined by velocity, intensity, and spread.”
Liminality is described as ‘occupying a position at, or on both sides of a boundary or threshold. Images today are liminal. They resides mostly in that moment of being between two states. In the potentiality of being something else. They can manifests themselves as bits of code which are set in motion through the swipe or scroll of the screen and as the image enters the stage-of-encounter, the theater-of-complicity, its pixels come alive and transform themselves into a digital glow of light-emitting stimulation, interacting with “some 130 million microscopically small receptors, each of which responds to the wavelength and intensity of the light it receives,” only held back, constrained by the polymers of the display, a rectangle, a shape.
And as you activate that image through a tap on the screen, a click of the mouse, you awaken its true intent. Hidden in the background, embedded within its coded DNA, its stimulated synapse travels unfathomable distance at constant speeds, crossing unimaginable terrains through varied topologies, ignoring geopolitical boundaries, possible bifurcations, distractions, flowing through contended spaces. And then, in a blink of an eye, it comes to a brief rest, as a bit of data, stored on a server, a memory bank or in a cloud, only to be temporarily archived, stored, backed-up. And when needed that image is then reconstituted as a set of data points on a series of colourful wiggly lines, on a bar or pie chart, scatterplots projected through the artificial light of yet another lens in some board room half way across the world, printed and bound, encased in plastic. It is then redistributed, passed around, and it begins to travel once again, in the briefcase of a sales person, emailed to a prospective buyer, its potentiality alive again, its shape redefined… what David Joselit describes as an “emergent image,” one which is lively, potent, dynamic, in motion… working the room… But I digress.
[image] "Communitas is an ‘unstructured’ realm of ‘social structure’, where often the normal ranking of individuals is reversed or the symbols of rank inverted [...] one might envisage it as a realm which is simultaneously one thing and not that thing (as in the Venn diagram, figure 6 .1)" retrieved from: History and Theory in Anthropology by Alan Barnard, University of Edinburgh.