Posts Tagged: future

Little Britian










There’s only 4 weeks left of University life as a full time student for me and as that time ticks away I will have to find new and exciting things to post here as I fully intend to keep this blog going. My blogging over the last 2 years has been very university work related and as such I have struggled to gain new viewers or a captured audience. I wouldn’t say I have played safe with my coursework, but I have spent my time as a student plugging the gaps in my wider knowledge, rather than focusing on one area of photography and taking it to the next level. It was a decision I didn’t take lightly and one I took on the back of advice from many professionals and an understanding of the photographic industry currently.

As part of this diversification, I will look to post up more conceptual work that I do day-to-day and also look to share with you all some of the stuff I am into currently and stuff I want to get into. As a little taster of this I would like to share with you some work I completed while walking in between the various sites I shot my final major images at in London. I love doing work that is charged with meaning and dripping with multi-layered content, but I also take great joy from having a good old fashion play with my cameras. On this day I happened to have on me my G12 bridge camera, which has on it a built in tilt shift lens and these are the results. Not everything in the world has to be serious and I really enjoyed exploring the world in miniature form. By narrowing the in focus lines on the world you create a super in focus band and a blurred outer that gives the impression that your subject is actually a miniature model or toy. I’ve found it works best from elevated positions where there is no clear connection with where you are standing and the point you are focusing on. Some of these have worked better than others and I will continue to explore the world this way whenever I get 10 minutes to myself up high. I’d love to get up the BT tower and try to use this function there, or from the Rotunda in Birmingham. You may also notice that one of these images now forms a key element to the blog as a header, the colours and the image prompted this refresh of the blog which I have designed myself using the software Artiseer. I hope you like both the layout and the work, If you could see a part of the world in miniature form what would you choose to look at?

Contested Modernity (here we go again?)

Bit of a critical piece of writing here on my views of the anthropological term; Contested Modernity to best explain the motivations of artists to ‘pull down the walls’ of authority in modern times. This is a trend i’m noticing towards the end of my project, which is a shame as i’ve i’d have worked this theory earlier i may have fully incorporated it into my work earlier! I’m new to these theories and as such, if I have recorded inaccuracies then I encourage open conversation on these issues. Pleae make full use of the comments section below!

Contested modernity is a phrase that is new to me and I first encountered it in the magazine ‘Ad-Busters’, a publication that focuses on untangling the mess of modern society and in particular capitalism whilst proposing possible replacement governmental systems and highlighting artists who are working towards this end. I do not believe that society is all on the same page and I feel that the cores of liquid modernity, post modernity and contested modernity can apply to different society groups at different times. My aim here is not to justify contested modernity as a wholesale branding of the society in which we live in, or even the society I live in. However I can see it as a driving motivation for some artists such as Peter Kennard, Banksy and Hilary Pecis. There are three key points to contested modernity, as I understand it. The rise of China and other cultures, the weakening of the west both morally and financially and finally the amount of attention artists are getting by raising questions of authority.

The rise of China to become a real superpower with growing influence over the western world comes as no surprise to any analyst or worldly person, the real shock of this decade is how quickly America has crumbled both morally and financially. The land of the free and the great American dream is rapidly defending into the land of lost hope and dreams, dragging with it most of the developed Christian world. The magazine the economist highlighted the growing connections between China and South America and developing eastern markets and these connections combined with cheap manufacturing industries are allowing the world to recover from the damage done to America much faster than America itself. Countries like the U.K are struggling more than America as most of its old manufacturing industries have been out-sourced to distant lands and they cannot build their way out of trouble. It puts the pound and the dollar, for years the world’s strongest currencies in a difficult position and allows China to be more demanding on the west and implement its own agenda and ethos faster. But what does the west really understand about Chinese political culture?

“The central player in this new world will be China. Continental in size and mentality, China is a ‘civilization-state’ whose characteristics, attitudes and values long predate its existence as a nation-state. Although China is clearly influenced by the West, its extraordinary size and history mean that it will remain highly distinct, and as it exercises its rapidly growing power it will change much more than the world’s geopolitics. The nation-state as we understand it will no longer be globally dominant, and the Westphalian state system will be transformed; ideas of race will be redrawn”.- Anatole Kaletsky

And this idea of questioning race and culture has never been more in the spotlight than now. One of the biggest artists in the world right now has built a reputation on questioning the nation-state and its authority figures, in particular the servants of authority such as the police and military. Banksy is a graffiti artist, which is an art form in direct collision with mainstream culture and authority. To this day he has hid his true identity and lives in fear of being unveiled, as what would happen to him is unclear. Some council celebrate his work whilst others paint over them, he has caused hypocrisy in the system and is celebrated for it. For a graffiti artist to be able to exhibit in the finest galleries in the western world and in particular America, it shows how popular questioning authority has become. This is coupled to the back of two questionable wars against ‘terror’ in Afghanistan and Iraq where speculation of the true motives for war have existed as long as the conflict. Are we there to hunt terror? Oppress Islam, which is the only religion that could call itself as expanding both in member base and wider world influence. To guarantee oil supplies for the west’s large corporations and energy markets or to keep a military presence close to the Chinese boarder to allow rapid response if crisis occurs? All are viable but we ay never know, unless Wikileaks, another key component of contesting authority and the west could manage to find the files that tell us.

“For well over 200 years, we have lived in a Western-made world, one where the very notion of being modern is inextricably bound up with being Western. The twenty-first century will be different. The rise of China, India and the Asian tiger economies means that, for the first time, modernity will no longer be exclusively Western. The West will be confronted with the fact that its systems, institutions and values are no longer the only ones on offer.” -Anatole Kaletsky

When I was a child America was a place of hope. Thanks to its constitution, the needs of the people came first and under Bill Clinton the American government managed to build friendships and expand its influence on the wider world. I’m beginning to believe that this moment will be known as the peak of America as a world leading power, I don’t see them climbing to this point again. America has a cancer growing inside of it and that cancer is eating away directly at the heart of the ideals of America, the Constitution. Although not the first violation of human rights in American history, Guantanamo bay will become this generations Vietnam. On American soil existed a place that was designed to strip the civil liberties of humans and degrade their existence and under George Bush’s Conservative government corporations were put before the people in government policy. In New Orleans, race became crucial to how well you were treated during a national disaster and for the first time since Pearl Harbor an enemy had the confidence to attack American soil and kill its citizens. Since then America has become more polarized and a political devoid has formed that could rupture America’s more metropolitan coastlines away from the core as the Tea party movement. Led by basket case Sarah Palin attempts to re-write America for the rich and its profit machines. All of this and many more reasons are causing the wider world to contest the ideals of America in with it modern life in general. As for years we have become used to America being our shoulder to lean on. Can you imagine a world where China is the dominant power and where news networks complain about our openness and civil liberties, as they do not suit the way of the dominant communist model?

“When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.” -Alexis de Tocqueville

We walk in fear and it is the job of the muses in this world to inspire us to do better, to be more confident and to question the normality of our society to expect more for all. Or at least that’s what some art is here to do and it’s these artists who are currently receiving the most attention. No matter where in the world they come from, if they question the authority they can become crucial to the development of the world. More and more artists are questioning society and more and more artists are being sanctioned for it. Weather it is the Russian group Voina being arrested without charge and beaten to a bloody pulp by Russian security forces or the ongoing concern for Ai Weiwei who has been detained by Chinese forces after constantly speaking out against the ruling party. I believe my work falls into this category and will do more so as I continue to gain confidence in a political practice of creation. I am motivated to question my government at every turn and if it wasn’t my own government I’m sure I’d be question others as injustice is world wide. I contest this modernistic lifestyle, as I believe that it is unsustainable and inept at putting the will and need of the people before the will and need of the rich. Time and time again its true desire for mega corporations and power are shown and it saddens me that many of the population have been brainwashed into accepting this way of life as the best possible. But there is no silk rainbow at the end of this cloud, if we push for change there is absolutely no way of knowing at this stage what the future will be. Will we better off morally and financially? Traditionally, wholesale change to society only happens after a period of intense bloodshed, be it the French model for change that involves bloodshed at the necks of your leaders or the American model, which invalid fuels call civil war. Will we survive as a race? Nuclear weapons are more common than in World War II and the guardians of Capitalism are fanatical in their belief that they are doing not only the people’s will but also Gods.

No matter how rough the transition, my backing goes to contesting the modern format of society. Stagnation leads to a poison in the supply of life and a corruption of the raw resources required to live. It is not in our best interests to take a backseat in our own development and if Darwin has taught humanity anything, it is that those who do not evolve, die.


My writings here are not intended as a motivational review of the work I have just completed but as a demonstration of how the work has now driven my motivation to do more in the same vein. This is part of my critical analysis of myself and my own views as much as it is an understanding of the term ‘critical modernity’ and a building block laid from the solid foundations set by both the #phonar project and the final projects works. Realizing that my work is constantly evolving and essential to my development is crucial to understanding the importance of this work.




The rise and rise of people journalism.

everyone these days seems to have a camera, right now as i speak i have 7 camera’s within 3 meters of me. I maybe a little high as i’m a photographer, but the ability and compulsion to record our everyday lives and share them with others is growing. It has led to social media and the my-face generation, where people build a digital persona of themselves to portray to their friends and family. Its not necessarily accurate and can be censored. But means that more and more of our everyday lives are willingly offered to other people so they can follow our movements.

For someone who hides as much personal information as possible, this shift is something thats taking a bit of getting used to. Especially in light of recent events, where governments have been found developing apps to use social media as a pawn of their own to spread propaganda. But ultimately its not the social media element of this story thats evil. For social media is our time’s equivalent of the ‘force’ (yes, i’m using a star wars analogy, get over it) The force is strong in the younger generation, and with it they are able to run rings around the older, less inducted generations who still think computers are for offices and word processing.

The force can be used for bad as i’ve sighted above and i can think of a few hundred thousand examples off the top of my head where it has been used incorrectly, or possibly with naivety and companies have yet to really understand the beast, simply put it can be summed up in its worst form in one word, MOB.

But when used for good it can become a structured and organised tool to help people get their message across to the many. And it is in this form that people journalism is born.

As people go about recording their lives, occasionally something truly disastrous happens that the general media will want to have some level of interest in. My images were taken from the social networking site Flickr for the student protests and used my mass media. By following the hash-tag for the protest, the media group was able to connect with me and interview me during the protest to help add context to the protest.

In Japan right now, we are seeing some amazing pictures taken by the most camera ready nation of when the earthquake struck and when the tsunami hit land, some of the best images of the recovery effort are also coming from amateurs, although now more and more professional photographers are on the scene.

Personally i’ve stopped focusing on news sites such as BBC news and The Guardian for my sources of news. I now go directly to the source, using tools like twitter and flickr to see the images as they are uploaded, rather than waiting for a news desk to package everything for me and decide whats important for me to hear. I see this as the ultimate end point of people journalism. Why rely on a media network when you can communicate firsthand with people who are at the scene?

This futuristic view is not a million miles away and i think all major world events will now be best covered by those at the scene, the public. Journalists cannot keep up anymore, they are left to deal with the aftermath.

Why do you use social media, what do you hope to gain from it? Where do you see its ultimate future? Is it going to be a tool for oppression from an over controlling government, or can the inherited freedom of social media allow rebellious forces to counter such moves by big corporations and government departments to ensure our prolonged freedom? No need for postcards or stamps, just answer below!

#decode and Design Museum, London

A visit to the V&A has been long overdue and this was the second attempt to get into the decode exhibition thanks to some terrible planning by my lovely partner. This time booking ahead i got past the front desk and into the interactive area. I try to find inspiration from less linear routes and places and from things i find interesting and social media, and technology are at the peak of that currently. I have spent a lot of time thinking how i could turn social media into revenue for a photographer and almost overlooked how it could be turned into an art form. Thankfully a group of people have already covered that area and curated the decode exhibit.

The exhibition runs till april 22nd, so if you haven’t gone yet, there is still time. It asks questions about our interaction with computers and the digital world, about the mark we leave but never really consider and asks us to think deeper about the future of art as a digital hybrid.

Response to hybrids, mash-ups and the liberation of the API

Today Mez gave us a lecture on mash-up and api software. Its something a use a lot blindly without really understanding how it worked so it was good to absorb this information for storage later. Rather than re-gergetate whats already been said (which can be found @ i thought i’d have a closer look at a piece of software that is fast becoming the pinnacle of API tech whilst incorporating the best of rss and reader programs.

I am of course talking about google wave. now i knew very little about this software until twitter exploded on the subject a few days ago and i’ve been promised an account for it, but not in time for this module which made me a sad panda (cause surly reviewing tech and development of web 3.0 tech that runs on simple html 5.0 would grand me an insta-1st?) but thankfully google has released enough info for me to adequately inform you and tie it in.

If you dont want my take on it, which will be very me orientated on how i intend to apply the software to my life, here’s the sole source of my research. google’s Program designers and managers telling us everything we need to know at this stage (yes its an hour and a half long)

When i first saw this program i was quite bouncy because i can see just how much scope there is for expansion, but before i get to that lets talk basics.

google wave is a way to communicate and talk in a collaborative way. text conversations on the internet are very linear in delivery. you type, hit enter then send. i repeat the process. All messenger tools currently available all have the same drawback, the typing isn’t live. In wave it is. This is good and bad. It means ill have to think before i type and im really glad that it auto corrects spelling errors cause if i didn’t use my mac to write blogs you’d all be going google-eyed. I think this will mean that more and more the text will become more like a conversation and force me to improve my typing as im a bit of a keyboard watcher.

(a side not on the spell checker here. Its intelligent, it understands the difference between Iceland and island and will correct accordingly. I am thoroughly impressed by this feature and look forward to its roll out to other packages)

On top of this, you can edit and create documents live with multiple users. Imagine five people writing different opinions on this blog, where they feel it needs to be written at once. this could then be published directly to a blog. wow. There is a source for images as well and they can be uploaded. The organisation of the waves themselves is the same as searching for an email, but is in real time, so if a new wave comes in that matches your search criteria, it will go into your already searched category. Web 3.0 baby.

I see this as a fantastic way to network with other photographers and get feedback with them instantly on my work or on joint projects. Its a way our work can become the mash-up with many people editing work at once and collectively creating something unique. I see its potential in Universities for live viewing of note taking and i’m gutted we couldn’t use it in the #picbod module this year.

and it gets better, this is just the shell. I’ll be watching with baited breath now to see what apps developers come up with to plug this all together with other google tabs such as the reader and mail. Im stunned once again bythe creators of google maps and honestly see google as the future of the internet at the moment. It wont be the end of anything we currently have except maybe emails. But its the stepping stone to something truly great.