Panel at Ways of Machine Seeing, University of Cambridge

Panel: “Unthinking Photography: cultural value and the networked image”
@ Ways of Machine Seeing
organised by Cambridge Digital Humanities Network, and CoDE (Cultures of the Digital Economy Research Institute) and Cambridge Big Data, 26-28 June 2017,
with Nicolas Malevé, Gaia Tedone, Katrina Sluis, Annet Dekker, Magda Tyżlik-Carver, Andrew Dewdney

If the new language of images were used differently, it would, through its use, confer a new kind of power.” John Berger, Ways of Seeing, 1972, p.33

John Berger’s BBC broadcast experiment Ways of Seeing argued that vision and seeing are essentially meaning making activities. Revisiting this understanding of the reproductive and cultural modes of seeing now in computational culture is timely, not least because Berger was concerned with a politics of culture that required new ways of thinking and acting.

Indexical and archival representation of a unique point of origin is no longer a sustainable definition for the image and yet its reproduction in culture persists, cloaking the reality of image production as an unspoken set of allegiances between human and machinic agents. This complex of agents can be termed the networked image and considered as a way of seeing. Working out epistemological and ontological accounts of the entanglements between computational and cultural languages is needed in order to identify and translate the politics and power of the networked image.

Through series of short provocations and an annotation experiment for pedagogies of vision in human and machine learning “Variation on a glance” by Nicolas Malevé, we will address the question of what research methods are needed to study the networked image and its increasingly hybrid, subjectivised, and highly individuated set of audiences. Recognising this supposedly non-representational public at work with networked image we will critically engage with pedagogies of machine seeing and increasing monopoly of machinic gaze on the networked bodies.

This panel and annotation experiment will be presented by the researchers from the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image as a contribution to the workshop.