Digital Media- Mash it up: Let the dataset change your mindset

In this lecture we looked at the idea of composites and data within the digital and photographic world. Nestoria is one of the first mash-ups/ composites, it is a very simple property search, combining maps and the data streams from the database that has information on properties to rent. Digital mash-ups can be seen all over the place now, and we use them regularly. Composites could be an area to look into when thinking about the artefacts we have to create for our website; an influence could be the work of Chino Otsuka, who uses digital technology, Photoshop, to combine new and old imagery. Otsuka explores the harsh truth of time lapse in her highly nostalgic and heartwarming series “Imagine Finding Me”. Otsuka took old photos from her childhood and adolescence and put pictures of her present self in them, creating bittersweet double self-portraits. This is a very clever idea as it also looks at the ideas of truth within photography and whether now we can trust photographs due to image manipulation.

1. 1976+2005, Kamakura, Japan

We also looked at cascading style sheets(CSS), to help us with our own websites; CSS are stand-alone files that make up the look of our website, they are separate from the content on the website. Separate formatting and content allows different design templates, which then the content only needs to be added to. How does this effect us? We want to ensure that our website can be accessed wherever and with whatever device, whereas before people would have to make different websites for different devices, now all the data is being held in a database and holds the three different templates.

Later on in the lecture we were then asked to research photographers that deal with ideas of the digital. Some of the areas we could look at included:

1.    Documenting our digital world – including portraits

2.    Integrating code into images to produce hybrid forms

3.    Using montage, compositing, trickery or illusion

4.    Using panorama, social media, CCTV, satellite, high definition to produce images that also have a narrative about our digital lives

By looking at different photographers’ work, this could then give us influence for our own artefacts for our websites. One photographer that I found interesting was Doug Rickard. In his work A New American Picture, Rickard offers a new perspective on American street photography. At first the work looks familiar and traditional to the genre of street photography, but his methodology is anything but conventional. All of the images are appropriated from Google Street View; over a period of two years, Rickard took advantage of the technology platform’s comprehensive image archive to virtually drive the unseen and overlooked roads of America, with focuses on places in the United States where unemployment is high and educational opportunities are few. Scrutinising the Google Maps pictures, he composed images on his computer screen, which he then photographed using a digital camera. The resulting pictures—digitally manipulated to remove the Google watermark and cropped to a panoramic format—comment on poverty and racial equity in the United States, the bounty of images on the web, and issues of personal privacy.


This use of combining the use of digital technology and photography to make a body of work could be seen almost as a ‘cheat’ way out, and that the work is not Rickard’s. Yet I believe that as Rickard has spent much time editing down the images to make a body of work, selecting them specific places and compositions, the work can be seen as his own even in the images do technically not belong to him. The work reminds me of the work of Mishka Henner who also uses Google Maps imagery in his own work, I have looked at his work in detail before, influencing my own photography projects, I also wrote a review on his exhibition that I visited.

I was also interested in the work of Jim Kazanjian, his body of work consists of crisply composed digital images that explore the surrealist side of space and architecture. Drawing from literary influences such as h.p. lovecraft and algernon blackwood, Kazanjian’s pictorials illustrate a fantasy-driven world that seemingly celebrates relics and decay. Having worked as a commercial CGI artist for television, fashion, and game production, his method of creating largely involves recomposing a number of photographs in bits and pieces.

Art critic Chas Bowie comments, ‘Kazanjian’s aberrations occupy a state of material transience: none of the images qualify as photographs, yet each piece is entirely photographic. Built upon the persuasive testimonies of hundreds of anonymous snapshots and photo-documents, Kazanjian’s landscapes are entirely fictitious constructions. The photographs of aberrations serve as souvenirs of non-existent places and events, even though their genetic codes are comprised solely of specific, exacting details of evidence.’

Bowie continues, ‘by recomposing photographs (rather than shooting them), Kazanjian liberates himself from the fastidious burdens of representation, although he remains tethered enough to exploit photography’s knack for maintaining its own honesty despite a track record that repeatedly suggests otherwise. In kazanjian’s hands, this freedom from naturalistic vision gives way to an uncanny space that is familiar but foreign—a fantasy both wild and gloomy.’


The work is truly fascinating to myself, I think that it is so clever how Jim Kazanjian makes images that look so realistic and believable through editing, yet the viewer can still see they are ‘fake’. I would love to be able to do something like this in my own work, yet I do not have the skills in photoshop to do it at this higher level, however I could still take influence from his work possibly to influence my own when I come to decide on my artefact based around the ideas of digital for my website.


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