Kajsa Hartig

A blog about Cultural Heritage and Digital Communication

It’s a visual world – #Blogg100

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About two years after publishing photos of myself screaming on Flickr, I discovered that my face was ‘for sale’ in several stores around the world, as well as on the Web and spotted it in places like Spain, Iran, Mexico, England and many other places.
Noam Galai, photograper

One of my great passions is photography. I have done a year long training to become a photographer. Then I pursued my academic career and ended up with a MA in Visual Anthropology. I have also spent eight years in charge of the Swedish Secretariat of Photographic Collections, an initiative by the Nordiska museet running between 1992-2010.

Working with digital in the heritage sector I am convinced more than ever that photograph collections are at the very center of the digital revolution that is taking place within museums. One reason is that the social arena that social media provides to a very large extent is made up by visual communication.

When I around 2011 started to look into the visual world of social media I realized there are many different ways that photographs are used, remixed and shared. One example is The Stolen Scream, a ”selfie” that soon after the photographer uploaded it to Flickr became one of the most shared and remixed photographs.

Skärmavbild 2014-03-02 kl. 21.57.08

This self portrait has become an icon, living its own life. It is being printed on T-shirts and used as posters or illustrating magazines. The photographer has by now no chance to control the use of his image, and those who use it are seemingly regarding it as public property. That the photograph no longer can be understood in itself is not new in the digital world, but today we are starting to grasp the difficulties of documenting a photograph as it travel across the internet.

At the same time as the public are uploading, using and remixing photographs, photographers themselves are reusing and remixing other photographs than their own. In 2011 Michael Wolf received an honorable mention at the World Press Photo Award for his remix of Google Street View photographs in ‘A series of unfortunate events’. He had taken photos of the computer screen where the Google Street View photographs were displayed.

Skärmavbild 2014-03-02 kl. 22.13.49

‘A series of unfortunate events’, all photographed from Google Street View, taken by placing a camera on a tripod in front of a computer screen in Paris.

Another example of professional photographers that explore online photography is the Swiss photographer Corrine Vionnet who in her series Photo Opportunities from 2011 combined a large amount of tourist snapshots of well known landmarks into new works of art.

Skärmavbild 2014-03-02 kl. 22.15.53

These three cases of photography taking a new step in the era of social digital caught my eye in 2011, and they still intrigue me today when looking back. The different ways of stretching the boundaries of the traditional photograph (intentionally or unintentionally) are examples of new challenges that social media is bringing, and that photography – as well as collection management –  are facing. This I will explore in a couple of upcoming blog posts.


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