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The privileges of the quasi-photographic image

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Numerical representation enables more than efficient processability and increased programmability. As it makes obsolete qualities that have previously been used to categorize individual media it also increasingly blurs the borders between them. Therefore it should be seen as no less than surprising that many contemporary systems still use images as their exclusive output channel. An associated conundrum is the fact that, of those many images, a baffling ratio appears in photographic form. Why this persistence on familiar pseudoverisimilitude? What are the privileges of the quasi-photographic aesthetic? Much wizardry is required to make data packages look recognizable. This decision, when taken by the creators of imaging algorithms, is of course ornamental but it is also much more. In acting as mere effect quasi-photographic images can function as sophisticated ‘go-betweens’ that weave together selected aspects of the physical world with the augmented world of data in ways that other media simply cannot. Thus, perhaps it is time to consider the possibility that the quasi-photographic need not be understood only as a form of interface but also as a concession required by and for our inferior human processing capabilities.
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Keywords: algorithm; effect; interface; numerical representation; ornament; photography; post-photography; quasi-photography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Shenkar College of Engineering, Design & Art

Publication date: 01 June 2016

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  • Ubiquity is an international peer reviewed journal for creative and transdisciplinary practitioners interested in technologies, practices and behaviours that have the potential to radically transform human perspectives on the world. "Ubiquity", the ability to be everywhere at the same time, a potential historically attributed to the occult is now a common feature of the average mobile phone. The title refers explicitly to the advent of ubiquitous computing that has been hastened through the consumption of networked digital devices. The journal anticipates the consequences for design and research in a culture where everyone and everything is connected, and will offer a context for visual artists, designers, scientists and writers to consider how Ubiquity is transforming our relationship with the world.
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