11 November 2020

Photographs are no longer natively physical nor even visual, but are composed of various forms of hidden data, a situation with a wide range of repercussions. In collaboration researcher Lewis Bush and creative coder and generative artist Matt DesLauriers have been developing an algorithmic system designed to transform inputted photographs into new visual forms.

The new images this system outputs appear highly abstract and at times even random, but contain essentially the same information as the source image, only re-rendered and re-presented in new ways, ways which are largely unrecognisable and unintelligible to human visual cognition. They are still, in a very literal sense, photographs, but in rendering them in this way we want viewers to appreciate the enormous differences in the ways that digital systems like computer vision technologies ‘see’ images. (see a wider set of images from this project here).

For the Photoworks commission, I propose using this system to generate a series of images based on familiar Christmas motifs. These could be highly abstracted, or like the examples included here, more or less recognisable. The first image in this series is the source image, the following four are various forms of reworking.

Ways of Seeing Algorithmically
(2019 – ?)

In 1972 a small book changed the way the public thought about visual culture. Ways of Seeing made ideas from fields like structuralism, feminism and Marxism widely accessible, and in the process changed popular discourse about art.

However, since it’s publication a paradigmatic shift in seeing has occurred, and this is that humans no longer hold a monopoly on interpreting, understanding and acting on what they see. When Berger wrote his book the field of computer vision was in its infancy, but today this technology is increasingly advanced and is rapidly advancing into ever more areas of our lives. Ways of Seeing Algorithmically uses Berger’s book as he intended, as a starting point for a process of questioning what those changes mean.

At the core of the project is an augmented reality application. When combined with a copy of the original Ways of Seeing book, this app uses computer vision to bring into being a new virtual text, which exists digitally between the pages of Berger’s original book. The aim of this new text is to draw into focus a new narrative about the relationship between technology, culture, vision and power, which builds on some of Berger’s original thinking, while also at times diverging from it.

From this central element, other sub-projects radiate off like spokes from the hub of a wheel. These include video pieces, long form writing, generative visual systems, expert interviews and other approaches, each designed to examine different facets of this enormous and complex subject. Begun in 2009 under the auspices of the BMW residency at Gobelins, Ecole de l’image, Paris, Ways of Seeing Algorithmically now runs in parallel with my ESRC funded PhD research into the implications of computer vision and artificial systems for visual journalism and democracy.

17 August 2020

Published as an outcome of the BMW Residency 2020, this book consists of an extended essay exploring themes related to the rise of computer vision, the nature of art, and the failures of capitalism.   Published by Editions Trocadero 2020, designed by Audrey Templier. Soft cover, perfect bound with card dust cover, 21 x 25cm, 78 pages on uncoated paper.   More information about Ways of Seeing Algorithmically    

 

22 June 2020

Latent Labour

Once mundane activities now seem to carry a deadly risk. The fear, justified or otherwise, of carrying infectious residues of the Covid-19 virus into one’s home is a very real one for thousands of people, both those with underlying health vulnerabilities and those without. In response to this  I began to approach shopping from the perspective of a forensic investigator.

During my weekly shop and when receiving deliveries by post, I handled everything with latex gloves, relaying these items to an improvised fingerprinting lab in my home. I then dusted these items with forensic fingerprint powders, which revealed the invisible or ‘latent’ prints of others who had handled these products at different stages between their production and delivery.

What began as an inquiry into fears about contamination has also become one about the traces left behind by the labourers who make our modern economies possible. Shop workers, parcel delivery people, warehouse workers, and the like are both amongst the most poorly paid, and also often most exposed in a time of social distancing. That vulnerability in large part stems from their invisibility to the rest of us, even when they, and their traces, are in fact right in front of our eyes.

Order the zine.

 

 

 

 

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The Migrant Archive (ongoing) The Migrant Archive is an examination of Britain’s attitudes towards it’s imperial history. Centrally it examines the ways that records of repressive actions in the colonies were systematically erased as part of the process of decolonisation. More broadly it examines the way that cultural conditioning in the United Kingdom has given rise to a profoundly distorted sense of the empire’s character and purpose, and links the consequences of these things to contemporary issues including long standing immigration policies, Brexit and the Windrush scandal.

3 January 2020

The vast majority of the images we encounter each day are natively neither physical nor even visual, but are composed of various forms of hidden textual data. This has a wide range of implications, not least for the development and understanding of computer vision systems. In collaboration with creative coder and generative artist Matt DesLauriers, we are developing a system which transforms recognisable photographs into new visual forms. These outputs appear highly abstract and at times even random, but contain essentially the same data as the source image, only re-rendered into new forms, largely unrecognisable and unintelligible to human visual cognition. The outputs from this system are still, in a very literal sense, photographs, but in rendering them in this way we hope that human viewers will start to appreciate some of the ways that computer vision is very different from our own. In particular the way that these systems see images not as a series of symbolically significant visual elements adding up to sum greater than their parts, but as an impersonal aggregation of tonal, chromatic and spatial information.

 

   

   

Various self-published zines and other small publications. Order zines and small publications

Eleven Privatised Public Assets (2018) Consisting of satellite maps of vast formerly state owned enterprise, since sold off to the private sector. A4 (A3 when opened), 24 pages, printed on 100gsm satin paper and staple bound.

Stryker (2017) Creating a story from photographs hole punched by the Farm Security Administration’s Roy Stryker. A5 (A4 when opened), 32 pages, printed on 100gsm recycled paper and staple bound.

Peckham Gothic (2012) Making the middle classes look like depression era sharecroppers. A5 (A4 when opened), 20 pages, printed on 100gsm uncoated paper and staple bound.

Official Portrait (2017) Manipulating Donald Trump’s official portrait. This zine can be hung up like a calender. A4 (A3 when opened), 28 pages, printed on 100gsm satin paper and staple bound.

A Model Continent (2014) A postcard book consisting of photographs of a decripted pro-EU theme park. A6 (A5 when opened), 30 pages, printed on 350gsm satin card and glue bound

Metropole (2014) A journey through a dystopian vision of a hyper-developed London. A4 (A3 when opened), 30 pages, printed on 200gsm coated paper and staple bound.

 

14 September 2019

Trading Zones, St. Helier Old Police Station 19 – 29 September 2018

Trading Zones draws on work produced during my six months as the 2018 Archisle photographer in residence at the Société Jersiaise, time I have spent looking at the islands finance industry. Located in Royal Square’s Old Police Station, itself a former bank and later the location of the Jersey Police Financial Investigations Unit, the exhibition is a multi-method survey of Jersey’s most successful contemporary industry.

Using a wide range of photographic approaches, Trading Zones considers different aspects of finance, from its history and geography to its architecture and visual culture. Alongside this the exhibition reflects on the industry’s complex relationship with the island that supports it, highlighting aspects of Jersey’s past and present which have been conducive to the growth of finance, and inviting Jersey people to contribute their own thoughts about the industry and what in means to them as part of an evolving display.