Photography in the Age of Forgetting
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Digital space is full of images of a reality, and in the realm of photography they always portray the past. Digital space is just one part of that reality which we regard as physical reality. By no means is it the opposite of reality. Nowadays millions of cameras scan our faces and bodies almost autonomously, compare and archive them – and we will never see any of this. Mobile cameras on vehicles generate a sense of belonging to a physical-geographic position.
Google Street View produces artefacts of a reality the may it may have happened in part at some time. We meet people from our past or even from our future. The faces are carefully made unreadable, but they still yield information. Only for a moment are these mask-like images of our presence an original on the street. What we see is our shadowy alter ego, the mirror image of a digital storage of life, which looks frozen, but still does not completely discard its identity. The next scan is needed to generate a temporal differentiation within the medium and thus its own past.The future of these photos is indeterminate.
It can happen that we see the same person twice on one picture or six times in succession on the same street from different perspectives.
Nothing seems impossible in the mix of algorithms.
Thanks to the environmental context, it is possible for us to let the faces take effect as objects in our internal images. Façades, vehicles, clothing and so on make it easier for us to apply these abilites. The compression artefacts that are sometimes visible make the link to a technical reality, which is the last bridge to a construction of realty.
Their number and ostensible similarity only seem to produce a system of indistinguishable particles. When we zoom in closer, recognizability is reduced at first until it becomes a new, specific dimension of the surface and its expression. New creatures, hybrids of the past and the future. Perhaps long dead and forgotten, but still present. Sometimes we recognize mask-like or distorted identities, sometimes it seems to be an old friend.
When the juxtaposition of faces is liberated from the context, no place can be recognized, there is no hint of the street, we have no idea of the country in which the photo was made.
All are equal here, beyond race and religion. And despite all this, every fragment of a portrait constitutes a visual character distinct from all others. We do not know whether the true expression of this life becomes manifest here for the first time, or whether it has always been and still remains inscrutably existent.
We are looking into a two-dimensional world-in-between in which we can lose ourselves as bodies until we, too, are forgotten. Ghosts. Faces without a face. Or with a new face for a new future with a two-dimensional existence.