I read through chapter 6 of Fred Ritchin’s book After Photography and it was quite interesting. He is talking about digital media and how letting the viewer choose their own way to read the information creates a more open-ended type of story telling.
‘Portrait one’ really interested me, how people could have a conversation with a fictional woman. She would even ask questions back of the viewer. People could ask any question they wanted, but inappropriate questions could cause the conversation to stop. She had many different areas of information but the viewer could only hear them if they asked the right questions. This gave people the opportunity to ask their own questions and find out what they wanted to know, and not just listen to the woman.This was created by Luc Courchesne, who had a longtime wish for portraits in museums to talk. Ritchin says ‘this project teaches more about the art of conversation’.
Back in 1994-5 he was asked by the New York times cooperation to create a model of the future multi-media newspaper. He created a website where the images link to new places, making the reader choose the way the story goes. It created a more immersive environment for the reader. He changed how newspaper stories could be read, adding music or changing images and even videos to the stories on the website. He wanted different media to complement each other. This is what the internet does now in many forms, his project was a view at what could be possible by the internet. Bosnia: Uncertain Paths to Peace, was a web site presented by the New York Times for three months in 1996 , the idea was to create a photo journal showing the making of peace not the horrific images of war. The photographs by Gilles Peress were central to the project scanned in from film for the website. They connected the photographs to different parts of the website, so when a reader found an image interesting they could click on it to learn more. They used text, images and recordings to get more information out on the website. There was also a discussion board, where they had hoped people would discus how the country could get back to peace, but it fell into a lot of racist comments. He believes the hyperlinked non-linear way of following the story is more similar to how we listen and learn things. We follow our own interests.
He goes on to explain what hypertext is, saying it allows the reader to click on what they find interesting and read more about the image they liked or the word in the story they found interesting. Hyper text needs to be used sparingly though, because some stories would lose their rhythm or meaning.
Pieces of an image could be different links, taking the viewer to more information on the subject they found interesting. Viewers of photography especially can choose to pursue their own curiosity.
Chris Marker’s 1961 film La Jetee was a pioneer in the use of still photographs to create a film. The images are from the characters past, present and future. But it lacked connections for the viewer to follow the story, and follow different evolutions of the story.
In 1961 french writer Raymond Queneau wrote a poem called ‘Cent Mille Milliards De Poemes’ (100,000 Billion Poems), it would be impossible for anyone to read in their lifetime, because he cut up each line from 10, 14 line sonnets and asked the reader to put together their own poems. ‘Poetry must be done by all, not by one’
Hyper text will could change the meaning of a text, letting readers go off on their own tangents, so they might not get the original meaning of the text.
Non-professionals are increasingly creating the content themselves, reputable companies take images from amateurs to fill out news stories.
We are all photographers now! Announced a 2007 exhibition in Switzerland. Many of us walk around with cameras, but we still need to produce skillful photographs for them to be called art or photography. You can create your own photograph gallery on Flickr and have people find your images and view them. Exhibition space in a gallery is no longer needed to showcase your work.
There have been promising projects on the internet, such as 360degrees, focusing on the criminal justice system, allowing the viewer to gain knowledge from the defendant, prosecutor, judge, victim and parents as seen through a 360degree panoramic moving image.
Photo essays are also a good start at putting photographs together with text and audio and letting the viewer choose what they want to hear.
Photosynth a new in development program from Microsoft that can see the ‘DNA’ of a photograph seeing its features and matches it to other photographs with the same features. Photosynth could combine many images of the same scene and create a 3D composite image that the viewer could look around and view the place in more depth.
What he has been talking about is already happening on the internet, especially with sites like Facebook, where it can identify the same people in your uploaded images and tag them for you. I do like the idea of hyperlinking parts of images so the viewer could find out more information, so the image turns into a mine of research. But this may also ruin its meaning as a photograph, the viewer might forget the image they saw and just remember the information it took them to. I think having one image that links to many different points of information is a really good idea, the image could link to different photographs you have taken, or new ideas and research. Fred Ritchin has given me a lot to think about in how I present my work, if it should have one main meaning, or if I should add more information for the viewers to find and follow their own ideas about my image.