Photography’s Brief Philosophy II

Noting that Part One, in two words, was “Notational System,” I will attempt another brevity: “Locational System.”Silver-Lake-Location.jpg
Social media’s appetite for your location information is insatiable due largely to the fact that you are a consumer. Merchandising and marketing data are more precious if they are rich with comprehensive location information on consumers, so naturally, we are incentivized to share as much of the stuff as possible. Using online maps, the nifty functions of Facebook or Flickr reward us daily by showing that our photographs occupy increasing portions of the earth’s geography. Behold my mighty footprint! For a price, you may obtain a fancy camera that captures GPS information at the moment of exposure, writing it into the photographic file. But more significant, your smartphone likely does the same thing to all of your photos – and without any added gizmos or cost. And the number of smartphone images exceeds those of all other camera types. Do these conditions forecast a change in the practical definition of photography and is this change leading to an open-ended role for the camera in general? Now that the embedding of GPS metadata in photographs is cheap and easy how long will it be before it is part of the default functionality of a camera? If location is no longer seen as a “feature” of the photographic process it may become a part of the photographic process. Since embedding a brief string of data within a digital image file is essentially a frictionless operation, you may consider this thought experiment: A camera that logs data for temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure into every snapshot. The technology already exists. If only the forces of consumer marketing would demand it.
Frozen Silver Lake.jpg
My recent image from the hill overlooking Silver Lake in Wyoming County New York, late afternoon April 3, 2014. This season the ice has been frozen to a depth of about three feet. Captured at GPS coordinates: 42°40'54" N 78°1'48" W

 
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Personal History Machine: Scanning the Old Negative

In 1971 a young couple and friend dine at the Gate House of Cobbs Hill Reservoir, Rochester, NY. I had recently begun my first tour of duty at George Eastman House, Rochester’s museum of photography, and was encouraged by example to take... Continue →