Zeros and Ones

What are Kate and Guy doing this week? A lot really, but I was just thinking.... What is Photography now? I am not going to get too intellectual about this or too romantic about it either. Making pictures has changed dramatically since I started making them in my little basement darkroom back in 1987 or so. (Yes, I admit it, I was in the darkroom from infancy!) But what does it really mean to make a picture, to represent something. John Berger foresaw Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook etc.. in his book Ways of Seeing (check out this short video) It is this inundation of imagery, this constant communication and need for attention that I am curious about. It is a double need—one is that you want the attention and another is a nagging feeling you need the attention to keep up, to stay relevant. Then we fight against it. I hear all the time that people are quitting Facebook or giving up email. We also see a whole lot of people just making stuff by hand. Artisanal is the hip code word for it. And Kate and I try to keep that as part of our daily life, too. But of course to sell the handmade stuff you must be connected in some way (even if it means you fain disdain for the internet), but then we hope to get written about and linked to for being such a recluse. Then you blow up and are selling everything online. I really do not judge it any more, one way or the other. I just see it as truly one of the bigger struggles of our time. It is for me. It challenges me to see so many great images being made every minute with a little phone. They are images similar to the ones I struggled to make over years at the beginning my artistic practice. On another level I struggle too with the questions of value and longevity. Or are they the same question. Does a handmade black and white print have more value than an Instagram post? If an audience seeing the images adds value then there is a close battle going on.

This is all to say that while working on a book that Kate and I are doing for a publisher I made these two pictures (below) that I really liked. Last year (2013) I probably would not have shared them, but this year I have and I will continue to do so. I will also even share some of the black and white prints I made over the years, 'The Archives' so to speak, the images that were the start of my practice, a practice that is still continuing, sometimes by hand and sometimes with zeros and ones. final2