An unprecedented number of photographs are being produced today, but what remains uncertain is the significance of this for the way we understand and use photography. Alpha-Beta is intended to emulate the vast visual heterogeneity of the internet in a manageable form. Starting with a small alphabet picture book made for me by my mother when I was a baby, I have expanded it with thousands of new images sought through internet searches using terms taken from my father’s childhood dictionary. The result is an isolated and deeply artificial example of a much bigger and more fluid phenomenon, a sampling of images from the professional and vernacular spheres, the contemporary and the historic, the scientific and the artistic, the sacred and the profane.
In contrast to many of my other projects Alpha-Beta comes with no prescribed meaning, viewers make of it what they will, as they will the torrent of images that this book represents. Alpha-Beta might be read as an exploration of the relationship between images and words, the dependence of the former on the latter for a sense of context and anchoring. Equally it could be understood as an examination of the way photographs are interpreted in relation to each other, their meaning never certain or stable. One might even view it as a questioning of the very definition of ‘photography’ in an age when photographs, virtual realities, works of art and scientific visualisations are all routinely reduced to the same mute digital formats.