The Water We Swim In – Digital Age


  • The Digital age – what we are in right now
  • Has come after the industrial age.
  • Instead of a piece of music being
  • Iphone is representation of the convergence of media – but we are the same in this course, the task of the photographer has changed. We are now linked with the media and the concept of shared information.
  • ‘The digital age is an age in which we can easily find, share and consume information via linked digital devices.’
  • However not always accurate information on the internet as there is just such a large quantity.

Who inhabits the digital age?

  • We all do whether we wish to or not.
  • ‘…born after 1980, when social digital technologies, such as usenet and bulletin board systems, came online. They all have access to networked digital technologies. And they all have the skills to use those technologies.’ – Just because you are born after 1980 you are not a digital native as you have to have access and the ability to use the technology.
  • About the connections of information not about the information existing.
  • ‘Keitai Girl No.3, 2004’ Noriko Yamaguchi – metaphor for digital native and digital age – the digital age is like a barrier between all of us, not connecting with you directly but with your chosen technology. We are constantly working through translators.
  • ‘Anna Malgrida’ – like chiaroscuro but with tv screens instead of candlelight
  • ‘Gabriella Herman’
  • Digital settlers – People born before 1980 but who have embraced the digital age and have chosen to live a digital life.
  • ‘Guthrie Lonergan’ – Myspace intro playlist
  • None of our information is private. Facebook is constantly reading and learning about us so can market adverts towards us.
  • Digital Immigrants – Born before the existence of digital, these people have adapted to some aspects of a digital life, either through choice of necessity.

Knowing this helps us know how we are going to market our work and who is going to see our work. It has an affect on our work everyday without us realising.

‘To fully understand Shakespeare we need understand the times he lived in’ – same with us.

We need to understand what is outside of the water (the digital age) so that we can understand being in the water better.
In knowing what we do not live in we understand what we live in. In working with underprivileged we understand the privilege.

Problems with living in the Digital Age

  • Copyright
  • Masses of Information
  • Audience
  • Work/ Jobs
  • Peoples digital and real life blurring – online and offline – the lines blur, are they the same lives or are the separate? Is Facebook a digital representation of our real life or is it our real life?

‘Popular internet designs of the moment – not the internet as a whole – tend to pull us into life patterns that gradually degrade the ways in which each of us live as individuals.’

Digital issues – Privacy and Publicity

  • Is it a numbers game? (having so many watchers and followers and likes and views.)
  • Privacy and publicity SHOULD NOT come at the expense of one another.
  • ‘Bill Sullivan’
  • In the Gregorian age if you changed how you looked the past you would only exist in memory.
  • In the industrial age you could keep that memory in a photo
  • In the digital age once something is online it is online forever – everybody can see what you looked like before, and before that, and before that – constant trace.
  • Larson & Shindelman, from the series ‘Geolocation’ 2011

Digital Issues – The Other 5 Billion

  • Places for the older generation are not making money so closing – so increasingly these older people have to learn how to use the digital tools.
  • ‘We shaped our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.’ – Marshall McLuhan ‘Understanding Media’, 1964
  • GENERATIVE – Important word
  • Generative experience – going to see the band live
  • Digital Natives – Enamoured with the paperback or the print
  • Richard Nicholson
  • Andreas Muelerpohle  – created the binary code of the first image ever made.
  • Nicephore Niepce – first image ever made

Court – split in half, write a short sentence or two for why you believe the digital age is good for photography.

Post it on my blog.

Paradigm Shift

  • Revolutionary shift
  • Digital Age second Paradigm Shift in photography
  • First – photography moving on from painting – photography originally considered cousin of painting for a long time before it was considered its own art form.
  • We are producing information in a digital age revolving around our fantastic ability to share information at such a large uncontrollable rate.
  • We now have a massively larger number of images in the world but considerably less analog photos.


  • The hyper-generative
  • We should not ignore the real object.
  • Polaroid is now fashionable again despite being atrocious in every way compared to digital – same with the paperback book
  • Not about being better or worse.