© Thiemo Kloss, from the series ‘Dark Blue’ (2012–2015). Kloss visualises transformations and changes that shape society. His images offer a personal point of view in which the collective consciousness, data, online behaviour, and computer usage are contemplated against the backdrop of transparency, anonymity and disintegration. Each image is constructed out of numerous cut out vertical lines, derived from photographs of one and the same person in different positions. By first painstakingly arranging the lines per shot, Kloss creates a set of more or less transparent images, which are subsequently slid into each other.

Finally, a Photography Exhibition that Deals with Our Relationship to Data

The curatorial concepts in the show DATA RUSH are pioneering which makes for a nerve-wracking viewing experience. DATA RUSH sees you, sees our ties to constantly streaming images and information, and all we can conclude is that the future is now.

Pete Brook
Oct 22, 2015 · 11 min read

© Hannes Hepp, from the series ‘Not So Alone — Lost in Chat Room ‘(2012–2015). Hannes Hepp’s photomontages portray the invisible, global, digital espionage activities of the NSA and other security forces, but also the continuous alienation and isolation of ordinary citizens in the virtual world. The portraits in the series come from public chat rooms, where the persons depicted tempt visitors with the prospect of more explicit sexual images so as to entice them to pay for ‘private time’. The viewer is therefore simultaneously a voyeur and an object of voyeurism. Just as the photographer may have been spied on by security forces whilst making the photomontages in his studio.
© Heinrich Holtgreve, from the series ‘The Internet As A Place’ (2013–2015). In 1969, the archetype of the Internet was developed for the American Ministry of Defence. In the almost half a century that has since passed, the application of the network has been extended from military purposes to all kinds of conceivable forms of interaction between billions of people around the world. But what exactly is this network of networks? Is it a physical place that you can visit? Over the past two years, Heinrich Holtgreve has been taking photographs of the Internet. His search for the Internet’s core has brought him to the North German coast, Egypt and Frankfurt.
© Cristina de Middel, from the series ‘Poly-spam’ (2009). An old woman looking for someone to share out her immense fortune among charities, a girl who wants to marry you in order to fulfil the requirements to collect the large sum of money her father left her, or just the message that you’ve won a new car — everyone with an email account receives these kinds of appeals and other messages that are too good to be true. Under the guise of mercy, they appeal to our greed. In ‘Poly-spam’, Cristina de Middel creates portraits of the senders, in which she translates every detail from the emails into dramatic images of the moment in which they were sent.
© Fernando Moleres, from the series ‘Internet Gaming Addicts’ (2014). In no other country, are there as many Internet users as in China — 600 million. This prosperity, however, has a dark side. Thousands of Chinese, particularly youths, are addicted to Internet gaming. They isolate themselves in their rooms or in Internet cafés, where they can sometimes play online games for days on end, with disastrous consequences for their social and family life. Moleres followed addicted youths who are trying to kick the habit at a clinic run by psychiatrist Tao Ran, who also a colonel in the People’s Liberation Army. Ran combines psychological and medical therapy with a strict military training, which also involves immediate family members. Many parents even allow themselves to be admitted into the clinic together with their child.
© Julian Röder. Situation room of the FRONTEX Headquarter in Warsaw, Poland, June, 2014, from the series ‘Mission and Task’ (2012–2013). Direct contact between the border police and migrants in the EU will continue to decrease in the future. Not because the flow of migrants will run dry, but because advancing technology ensures that the surveillance of the EU’s external borders is becoming increasingly abstract. The new border surveillance system EUROSUR, which became operational in 2013, analyses data forwarded by satellites, radar stations, airplanes and drones. The information from participating countries is automatically and immediately exchanged with everyone through the network. Planned border crossings can thus be detected long before the border is in sight. People are thereby reduced to data, streams, points of light, and signals, and are no longer seen as individuals. Through surveillance, an infrastructure is fabricated that places the maintenance of Europe’s prosperity over a responsible way of dealing with ‘the other’.
© Dina Litovsky, from the series ‘Untag This Photo’ (2010–2012). Since she started to take photographs a few years ago of the New York nightlife in all its different manifestations, Litovsky has seen a change in clubbers: the focus has shifted from partying to taking photos of the parties. She became fascinated by the often exhibitionist behaviour of women who rather remarkably use their personal control over their image formation simply to confirm stereotypes. Litovsky examines how public behaviour is influenced through the embracement of digital cameras, smartphones and online social networks in domains that were once private.
© Max Colson, from the series ‘Friendly Proposals for Highly Controlling Environments’ (2014–2015). Many public places in Great Britain are being privatised, in the course of which surveillance is put in place as a means of control. The latest hi-tech equipment is able to respond ‘smartly’ to events in the vicinity — lampposts can record sound and switch on whenever they ‘hear’ upheaval, dustbins can follow passing smartphones and register movements in a marked out area. The surveillance systems, however, are designed to be inconspicuous and continually contribute to a sense of false insinuation. Colson shows the potential of a more playful and therefore less threatening manner of surveillance.
© Lori Hepner, from the series ‘Status Symbols: A Study in Tweets’ (2009–2012). Textual updates on sites like Twitter and Facebook make it possible to create virtual personas that differ greatly from the physical reality. Hepner makes portraits based on updates on social media, using rotating LEDs. With the aid of specially developed soft- and hardware, the words are translated into flashes of light — the on and off of the binary code that forms the basis of digital communication. Each portrait represents a fleeting moment of identity, until the next update becomes a fact.
Read more about Sterling Crispin’s “Data Masks” on Matter: This Is What Your Face Looks Like To Facebook.
A screengrab of screengrabs from Waltraut Tänzler’s series ‘Eyes On Border.’
© Andrew Hammerand, from the series ‘The New Town’ (2013). In order to portray the construction of a new community, the project developer installed a camera on top of an antenna for mobile phones; the images of which were made public. It is just one example of the many non-secured devices which actively and haphazardly pump information onto the Internet. Hammerand had full access to non-secured controls, he could point the camera himself, zoom in with it and focus. The result is a voyeuristic gaze on the village, a play with the visual language of surveillance, amateur footage and insinuation.
© Arnold Koroshegyi, from the series ‘Electroscapes’ (2011–2012). In Koroshegyi’s electroscopes, landscapes and data merge. He falls back on the practice of nineteenth-century geology investigations, where photography and scientific expeditions went hand in hand to discover the topography of the world. By integrating surveillance software in a layered photographic process, Koroshegyi was able to make a visual interpretation of the electromagnetic data in the atmosphere surrounding geographic formations.
Detail from Daniel Mayrit’s series “You Haven’t Seen Their Faces’
© Mintio. ‘T.H.O.H.Y aka The Hall of Hyperdelic Youths’ (2010). The virtual world of gamers has infinite possibilities. As though in a trance, gamers detach themselves from their vulnerable bodies and enter into a world with barely any rules. Mintio combines this virtual world with images of those who move through it. Using only the light emitting from the screens behind which the gamers take cover, Mintio captured the teenagers’ limited movements — or even the complete lack of them, because in the three to ten minutes of the shoot, they barely moved. Turned 180 degrees, through the eyes of the gamer, she subsequently captured different layers of the endless matrix of the game.
© Henrik Spohler, from the series ‘0/1 Dataflow’ (2000–2001). The places where the real heart of our information society beats are in fact the opposite of it in terms of appearance, Spohler says. In the uniform, light grey spaces even the colour of the Ethernet cables offers no indication as to which direction the processed data comes from, let alone where it is going. The processes at play here are just as invisible as in the synapses of the human brain. This abstraction makes the photographs an allegory of the interplay and equivalence of data in the digital era.
© Nate Larson & Marni Shindelman, from the series ‘Geolocation’ (2009-present). With their collaborative projects, Nate Larson (United States, 1978) and Marni Shindelman (United States, 1977) examine the data that we generate on online communication networks. Larson and Shindelman used publicly accessible GPS information in Twitter messages in order to track the physical location of the tweet. Each photograph was taken in the exact same spot where the message was sent into the world, quoting the text of the message. The photographs anchor and commemorate the fleeting online data in the real world. At the same time, they also question the expected privacy of these 85 online networks.
© Catherine Balet, from the series ‘Strangers in the Light’ (2009). Balet examines the complicated relationship between humans and their technology. Her photographs show the new posture of the ever-reachable, contemporary human, absorbed in the white, digital light of his device. The individuals she has photographed are solely illuminated by the light on their smartphone, laptop or tablet, thus creating a 21st century chiaroscuro effect which seems to refer to classical paintings and the old masters. At the same time, it refers to the historical break with the past, brought about by modern means of communication.
© Rutger Prins, from the series ‘Discord’ (2015). Ever since Prins captured his mother’s final breath, he has been obsessed by death. We ascribe special qualities to things we hold dear. Prins sees the laptop he carried everywhere with him as a teenager as an object which, thanks to the optional internet connection, has greatly shaped him as a person. His series Personal Effects, from which ‘Discord’ is a part, is dedicated to objects which have had a big impact on his life. By completely destroying the out-dated and unneeded objects, like his old laptop, he says goodbye in a manner both violent and appropriate — just like us, the objects that define us are fleeting. Is this an escape from the digital predestination?

Vantage

Perspectives on Visual Storytelling

Pete Brook

Written by

Writer, curator and educator focused on photo, prisons and power. SF Bay Area, Calif. www.prisonphotography.org

Vantage

Vantage

Perspectives on Visual Storytelling