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Photographic art and technology in contemporary India

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The algorithmic turn in photography raises the question of whether an algorithmically generated image is even a photograph at all. This paradox is abundant on India's urban streets, where the pedestrian or road user is met with giant photo saturated flex hoardings printed with political and community messages and photo-shopped portraits of gods, chief ministers and party workers. In this article, attention to photo-based political posters alongside art practices sharing common elements of digital capture and postproduction contextualizes a reading of technologically produced visual landscapes in the South Indian city of Bangalore. Informed by Vilèm Flusser, the techno-materiality of hoardings are interpreted as visual practices whose reliance on Microsoft and Adobe softwares reveal more than the semiotic information that is ostensibly transmitted; in so doing the extent to which photography is a useful entry point for assessing the visuality in which we're currently living and how this gets locally inflected in the case of India is explored.
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Keywords: Adobe; India; Microsoft; Vilèm Flusser; algorithms; desktop publishing; political posters; street photography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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  • Philosophy of Photography is a new peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of photography. It is not committed to any one notion of photography nor, indeed, to any particular philosophical approach. The purpose of the journal is to provide a forum for debate on theoretical issues arising from the historical, political, cultural, scientific and critical matrix of ideas, practices and techniques that may be said to constitute photography as a multifaceted form. In a contemporary context remarkable for its diversity and rate of change, the conjunction of the terms 'philosophy' and 'photography' in the journal's title is intended to act as a provocation to serious reflection on the ways in which existing and emergent photographic discourses might engage with and inform each other.
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