Home » Topics

Topics

Topics
Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainability now online
Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainability now online
Salzburg Global Staff Writer 
“We cherish sustainability… we cherish democracy…” states the opening preamble of the newly launched Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainability. The Manifesto and an accompanying online Platform were launched on Wednesday March 20, 2013 by the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development (FDSD) to “guide the action that’s needed to re-shape democracy so that it becomes a powerful force for sustainability”.  Salzburg Global Seminar jointly convened the session “Towards a Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainable Development” with FDSD from December 12-14, 2012, with the generous support of the Huffington Family Foundation. Schloss Leopoldskron hosted 21 young and established professionals from 14 countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, for a three-day workshop to fine-tune inputs from an international Manifesto consultation, conceived and led by SGS Fellow and FDSD President, Halina Ward. SGS staff then helped draft the final text of the Manifesto in 2013. You can read the full Manifesto on the Democracy and Sustainability Platform. The Platform is an online space that offers videos and testimonies on why people and organizations around the world are signing up to the Manifesto and encourages others to share their “ideas for an action or initiative that could get democracy to work better for sustainability”. <iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/62232681" width="500" height="281" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> This session came at a key moment for Salzburg Global Seminar as we consolidate our Program around three focal areas, with participation and sustainability at their core (more details to come in April’s Fellows newsletter). SGS is committed to addressing the physical survival and wellbeing of current and future generations in a holistic way, as health and life prospects are closely tied to environmental quality, access to jobs and income.  Looking forward, SGS will be asking how societies at all levels can adapt political, economic and governance systems to fully engage citizens, improve leadership and collective action, support openness and accountability and promote the rule of law.  We believe that innovation and multi-dimensional strategies will deliver more effective results over time. As international consensus grows on the need for more robust action to address climate change and resource scarcity, SGS’s convening will ensure rigorous discussion of long-term options with a strong focus on social justice. Salzburg Global Seminar sees 2013 as a year of great opportunity. Session 515 “A Climate for Change: New Thinking on Governance for Sustainability” will be held June 23-27, 2013 in Salzburg, Austria. This session is timed to inject fresh systems thinking into the rapidly-evolving policy, civic and business landscape as we build towards a new post-2015 development agenda and the delivery of a new climate framework. The session will bring together around 50 emerging and established decision-makers, innovators and practitioners across geographic and sectoral divides. This non-standard group will straddle representatives of intergovernmental organizations, national governments, corporate public affairs/environment departments, SMEs and entrepreneurs, civil society, community initiatives, science, education and media.  The session will combine a focus on micro/bottom-up action and macro/multilateral processes. Session outputs will include priority actions to feed directly into the first meeting of the UN’s High-level Political Forum in September 2013 in New York, the 3rd Global Green Growth Forum in October 2013 in Copenhagen and the work of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Governance for Sustainability.  
The Manifesto for Democracy and Sustainability is on the following social media platforms: Facebook: www.facebook.com/Democrability Vimeo: www.vimeo.com/democrability Twitter: @democrability
The Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development (FDSD) launched and convened an international consultation process to create the Manifesto. Many other organizations, including the Salzburg Global Seminar, helped along the way. You can read more about the process here: www.fdsd.org For more information on session 515, “A Climate for Change: New Thinking on Governance for Sustainability” (June 23-27, 2013), please contact Georgios Kostakos at gkostakos@salzburgglobal.org   
READ MORE...
Three New Reports Published
Three New Reports Published
Salzburg Global Staff Writer 
Three reports from 2012 sessions 488: ‘Unlocking the Debt Conundrum:  Paths to Fiscal Sustainability and Growth’, 494: ‘Cultural Dialogue in International Security: The Case of Russia and the Euro-Atlantic Community’ and 497: ‘Value vs. Profit: Recalculating ROI in Financial and Social Terms’ are now available for download in PDF on the Salzburg Global Seminar website and browsing in our newly established Issuu.com library. Unlocking the Debt Conundrum:  Paths to Fiscal Sustainability and Growth was written by Andrew Mortimer, deputy editor at financial industry analysts Euromoney Country Risk and offers recommendations from the three-day planning workshop which brought together leading policymakers and young leaders from a range of public and private sector institutions, including the European Central Bank (ECB), US and UK Treasuries and multi-national investment banks, as well as academia. The workshop was a stand-alone event from Salzburg Global Seminar’s Salzburg Forum on Finance in a Changing World, the third of which will be held this August: Session 516 – 'Out of the Shadows: Regulation for Non-Banking Financial Institutions'. In the report for Cultural Dialogue in International Security: The Case of Russia and the Euro-Atlantic Community, author, SGS Fellow and former Salzburg Global Fellowship Manager, Ian Brown, encapsulates the discussions held in the November session held in collaboration with the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House and with the support of the Yeltsin Presidential Center on the fifteenth anniversary of the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act. The report from Value vs. Profit: Recalculating ROI in Financial and Social Terms includes not only a summary of the session by Director – Gender and Philanthropy, Nancy Smith, but also an illustration of “NGOlandia” by Fellow Majid Batterjee, a daily reflection of the session from Fellow Linda Mohapel, as well as features and interviews from SGS Editor Louise Hallman, which were published in the blog of Alliance, the leading philanthropy and social investment magazine. This session marked the start of a newly established series—Transforming Investment Cultures—which will fully launch this December with Session 510: “Transforming Investment Cultures: Creating Incentives for Sustainable Enterprise'. We will be adding reports from our archive to our Issuu library, so follow @salzburgglobal on Twitter for updates.
READ MORE...
Searching For and Presenting Authenticity in the Post-Facebook Age
Searching For and Presenting Authenticity in the Post-Facebook Age
Louise Hallman 
When it first launched in 2004, Facebook allowed its users to have one photo. That profile picture was expected to remain static, similar to the printed college facebooks upon which the site had been modelled.  Realizing that users were updating their profile photo on an extremely frequent basis, reflecting the user’s mood, location, and current relationship, Facebook developers launched its photo-sharing feature in 2005. Today, Facebook is the biggest photo archive on the web, with 300,000,000 images uploaded every day.  What does this say about our relationship with images and their importance to our daily lives? Whilst photography is often touted as art and admired for its aesthetic and/or activist qualities, this isn’t the case for all images, suggested George Oates, former lead designer with another photo sharing service, Flickr.  Some images are more important for their social and personal connections, she explained. Launched nine years ago, Flickr photos can be explained in four layers, said Oates: you, people you know, your interests and then everything else. The former are likely to be kept private or remain within the immediate social circle, with the latter layers of photos being shared more publicly. However, one thing that breaks through all of these layers is news, and there have been many newsworthy photos uploaded to Flickr, from the now ubiquitous 7/7 photos on the London subway to photos of Paris riots and Boston snow ploughs.  Flickr’s various licensing arrangements mean that individuals’ photos can be picked up for use by worldwide news publications. The vast array of (easily searchable) photos taken on and around various incidents gives rise to contextual photography around the event – rather than one image from one agency’s photographer, you can find many different images, from many different view points, both physical and ideological. But despite some high profile news images, Flickr is still primarily full of photos of “kittens, babies, flowers and sunsets.” Not so for citizen photojournalism platform Demotix. Launched in early 2009 in the midst of a seize of Gaza, Turi Munthe’s site has always sought out those “very hard news images” rather than simply sharing personal interest photos. Set up to fill the void left by the decline of foreign bureaus and aiming to engage more people in journalism and free speech, Demotix unlike Flickr, that simply encourages the sharing of photos, is a business: selling on images and sharing the spoils 50/50 with the photographers.   By June 2009, as foreign and local media was being hounded out of the country or into silence in the wake of the failed Green Revolution in Iran, Demotix got its first image on the front page of the New York Times—an image that would not have been available without such an agency. Demotix makes efforts to verify all of the images it sells on to news outlets. Authenticity and trust are key to its success. These two aspects are valuable to others too, such as politicians—politicians who are now turning to social media, such as Facebook and Twitter to better connect with their voters. Whereas official portraits may show a stern, serious side to a leader, on Facebook he or she can show themself with their sleeves rolled up and with their family (or quite commonly with his dog, as with George W. Bush), allowing voters to see a different, more human side. Instead of ignoring or even quashing such phenomena as the internet meme, politicians are increasingly embracing them. Most worthy of note are Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio, jumping on their respective “Texts from Hillary” and water gulping bandwagons. But as politicians and celebrities strive to appear more authentic by peeling back the curtain, we the consumer, voter and viewer should still ask ourselves: what have they left out? What are they still not showing us? What public image are they trying to present? Just as there are issues in verifying the deluge of mobile phone footage appearing online covering incidents like the current Syrian civil war, more images available does not necessarily mean more authenticity.
READ MORE...
Power in Whose Palm? Day 3: Making Ethical Choices
Power in Whose Palm? Day 3: Making Ethical Choices
Jessica White 
What ethical, editorial and intellectual property challenges are arising as a result of new technologies?  How are photo editors, photographers, web platform managers and society as a whole dealing with these complex issues? Charles Swan, Head of London Media Law firm Swan Turton LLP advises on a wide range of issues including copyright, trademark and privacy issues. Leading the session, Swan drove Fellows’ attention into the domain of photography and human rights domain with three key points: 
  1. Freedom of expression
  2. Privacy
  3. Property
Within this key debate, there is a balancing act of human rights with copyright/moral rights (right to property).  Photographers have control over the reproduction of their work, but it has only been recently that subjects have had the rights to prevent the publication of private images.  In bringing in privacy laws, the UK has trailed behind the USA and the rest of Europe (even France had such laws before the States.) The right to own an image is a hot topic in contemporary times, especially given the speed with which images can be spread, often with little care to attribute the original owner, leading to heavy law suits.  Many of these lawsuits aren’t about the big media suing individuals for sharing their images, but the reverse, with citizen journalists reclaiming power from the well-established agencies. In 2010 when the earthquake struck in Haiti, freelance photographer Dan Morel, created a Twitter account to upload his photos of the disaster. He was surprised to see that the following day one of those photos had been used and circulated by European news and photo agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP), without his permission. The law case went on for two years.  He argues he had given permission to Twitter, but not to everyone else to download that image and use it without his permission.  The final decision was that AFP was liable for copyright infringement. So the photograph is free to circulate within the Twittersphere, but once it goes outside the Twitter pearly gates, dangers ensue.  Arguably as a result, there has been a lot more caution towards photographers and citizen journalists operating within social networks.  When a snap-shot of a burning helicopter that crashed in London emerged on Twitter long before any professional journalist got to the scene, the citizen journalist then received a flurry of comments, ranging from representation in the negotiation of that same image with the media, to potential offers, as well as direct messages via Twitter from the journalists themselves that recognized the photo’s news value.  Despite the number of people encouraging him to make a profit from his photo, the citizen photographer declined – he did not wish to profit from the fatal crash, choosing his ethics over legal action. Even start-ups have started to ride the wave of claiming ownership within the domain of citizen journalism.  Scoopshot is a desktop and mobile app that is essentially a “photo service that brokers news photography between mobile Scoopshooters around the world and the international media through the Scoopshot Store,” (Scoopshot, 2012), further enabling amateur citizen photographers to publish their photos worldwide whilst earning money and retaining some rights. Legal action or the threat thereof has for some, celebrities in particular, led to the “Streisand Effect.”  In requesting photos to be removed, either on grounds of breech of privacy or even for simply being unflattering, as both Barbara Streisand and Beyoncé respectively found out to their detriment, the images became much more popular than before the action was taken.  These examples raised questions about freedom of expression, and how the notion differs in prominence vis-à-vis privacy law from country to country. But the global media is acting in a certain way that sometimes has a lot more influence than a single country. If billion-user Facebook decides to act in a certain way, undeniably there are large ramifications across the public sphere. Sarah Parsons, an associate professor and director of the graduate program in Art History and Visual Culture at York University, brought to light complex issues surrounding photography and privacy in her presentation. The issue of photography and privacy first arose with the emergence of the hand-held camera in the late 19th century. Previously a much more laborious process, the hand-held camera took photography out of the studio and out into people’s daily lives. Working more and more closely with subjects using a hand-held camera became a large part of getting interesting and sometimes, iconic photos, such as Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” taken in the 1930s American depression for the Farm Security Administration (FSA).  The image depicts a young mother, Florence Owens Thompson, with a weather-beaten face and worn-out clothes.  Her two children are leaning onto her, their faces turned away from the camera. This image had a huge impact. It circulated on a mass scale and came to arguably represent the face of poverty in America’s Great Depression.  Thompson had not benefited financially from this image and all the ownership had remained with the FSA, not with photographer Lange.  Lange had assumed that she was co-operative because she would indirectly benefit from this image as well, by raising awareness of her plight.  It was later revealed that Lange got some of the details of the story wrong and years after the image was taken, Thompson was not overjoyed to be the face of poverty.  The meaning and understanding changed depending on the subject position. However, the impact showing workers during the depression was undeniably strong, perhaps because of the intimacy between subject and photographer, despite the problematic elements.  Similar issues arise in the work of photographer Nan Goldin in the 1980s.  The relationship between the photographer and her subjects was always very intimate.  Golding started by exhibiting her photos in very local and small venues, with many of the subjects present at these viewings.  She later started submitting these photographs as slideshows at film-festivals.  Eventually, at its height, her 45 minute slide show was shown at the Whitney Museum in New York. However, as the images moved to different, larger venues, the meanings of the images started to change.   “My images are an open love letter,” Goldin has said, revealing how intimate her relationship was with her subjects, which she then in turn revealed to the public. Goldin’s particularly intimate perspective often gave a view into a hidden world, and once in the public eye, the subjects, similar to Thompson, were not always comfortable with the reminder of their past lives.  Some of the subjects had fallen victim to HIV/AIDS, such Cookie Mueller, a personal friend and subject of many of Goldin’s photographs.  Others subjects in Goldin’s photographs which ventured into taboo spaces had often not reconciled with their past, thus when these images are circulated now, the once willing subjects are no longer at ease with them.  But the power of the images comes from Goldin’s relationship with her subjects.  Nan Goldin has spoken candidly about her deeply private images: “The public are the only people that understand my work,” she said.  So the distance between the private and the public collapses, which raises ethical questions for the subjects, the way in which they continue to be interpreted in a contemporary context, and the relationship between the photographer and subject itself. The meanings that are attributed to the photos are slippery categories because of the way in which they circulate.  It perhaps began as an intimate social document of taboo spaces, yet does this sense shift when it is sold in an upmarket gallery in New York or re-sold at Christies?  The photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia took a series of intimate headshot portraits of unsuspecting members of the public in Times Square, New York, causing contention. A subject attempted to sue for invasion of privacy; however the judge ruled in agreement with the photographer, because it was seen as artistic practice, rather than commerce, and thus protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. There are ethical implications that arise as the photograph moves from spaces of artistic practice to commerce.  Do Nan Golding’s photograph’s remain “an open love letter” when the naked subjects are sold at Christie’s for a high price?  Or does the meaning change and just become equivalent to porn? How important are these ethical considerations in photography? Arguably, there is no right answer; sometimes the importance of the image or story can be seen to override the approval of the subject or their loved ones. The ethics change in case-by-case, but often these ethics are beyond strict legal issues.   Some photographers admit to now practicing self-censorship when they take photographs, based on how people may respond.  Is the digitization of photography putting limitations on our practice of photography? Time will tell.
READ MORE...
Going Alone and Bringing People with You
Going Alone and Bringing People with You
Louise Hallman 
“I’m not a photographer,” Shahidul Alam told the 50 participants gathered in Parker Hall for the session ‘The Photographer as an Advocate, Awareness-Raiser and Activist’. Given his long photography career, this statement might have come as a surprise, if it were not for the other part of his statement: “I see myself as an activist who uses photography, not the other way around.” Photography has had a long history of being used for advocacy and activism, beyond just passive documentation. Moderator Emma Raynes of the Magnum Emergency Fund suggested that perhaps her grant-making body was an advocacy organization as it funds photographers to cover under-reported social issues. However, she was quick to point out that she doesn’t decide or promote the issues to be covered – that’s the job of the photographer. This issue Alam chose to cover in his “Crossfire” project was the extra-judicial killings carried out by Bangladesh’s notorious Rapid Action Battalion. Challenged with how to engage a viewer already desensitized to violence, instead of presenting the viewer with gory images of dead bodies or bloody locales, Alam’s “constructed images use elements of real case studies to evoke stories that the government has denied.” The photographs were accompanied by dark lighting, Google maps of the killings and a video loop of Alam’s own arrest whilst covering the RAB.  The controversial exhibition was shut down by the police; later iterations of the installation went meta, including videos and photos of the police’s actions against it.  Thanks to the Open Society Foundation, 500 copies of the edition have now been made so that other activists can have “their own resistance” wherever they are. Extra-judicial killings by the RAB have decreased since Crossfire first showed, only to be replaced by an increase in the “more sinister” disappearances – the focus of Alam’s new, yet to be exhibited, project. Dealing with such controversial topics poses more than just censorship issues for photographers; first they have to get their projects off the ground with financing. As Claudia Hinterseer of the social justice-focused photo agency, NOOR, explained, they have found it better not to apply for or accept funding from campaigning NGOs, and instead prefer the more politically neutral foundations such as Nikon. Set up as a collaborative of similarly minded photo activists, the agency has published in various newspapers and magazines, including a partnership with left-wing Danish newspaper Information. 50,000 copies of an entirely image-driven Danish-English language edition were handed out (along with a morning coffee) to politicians arriving for the Copenhagen UN Climate Summit in 2009. NOOR’s photos showed the human consequences of climate change—much more effective than much-repeated images of melting icebergs. In a manner similar to Alam’s pop up exhibitions, NOOR has taken to displaying its climate change photos busy public spaces such as shopping streets, subway stations and public gardens to get public attention and raise awareness. Although the exhibition is now being supported by Greenpeace Mediterranean, the politically neutral funding has enabled NOOR to get their photos published in more places than if they had worked solely in collaboration with the NGO. Besides activists, awareness-raisers and advocates, it would seem photographers now must also be writers, not only of their own captions, but of their grant proposals. But, “letting funding determine what you do is a dangerous position to be in,” warned Alam. His advice to avoid losing editorial control of your images is to assume you will get no funding and work from there. Perhaps easier said than done, but as the old Bangla song goes: “If there is no one to walk along with you, walk alone.”
READ MORE...
Power in Whose Palm? Day 2: Photography: the Engine of Teaching
Power in Whose Palm? Day 2: Photography: the Engine of Teaching
Jessica White 
Photographs can be an engine of teaching. They can pose as an intermediary between a teacher's voice and a student's voice” - Wendy Ewald Nii Obodai, a photographer and educator, moderated a complex field addressing the role of photography in education.  Obodai, who is currently developing a new school, in Africa—Nuku meaning wonderful surprise—spoke candidly that there is currently not enough critical thinking, creativity and inclusion of postcolonial photography in Africa.  “I am teaching kids to be more participatory, photography has given me the skills to do that,” he said. Obodai continued by saying that it is the failure of the education system, that has not addressed the complexities of Africa.  A new education system has some hope in addressing existing black and white stereotypes.  Visual education is able to make reality a lot more tangible than just facts, figures and graphs.  Obodai is dedicated to teaching people and bringing the learning experience to who they are, through the medium of photography. Eric Gottesman (USA) a photographer and researcher, posed the question: “Rather than arguing whether digital itself is good or bad, we can think about visual listening, in the sense of who gets to speak and how does that affect what we see in the world?”  We can see photography as indexing reality so that we can make sense of that reality.  Gottesman has been doing photography-based research projects in Ethiopia since 1999 to 2012.  Previous to his field-work, he had a lot of images in mind of what he would find there.  Seeing pictures of un-named African subjects often engulfed in famine and war, he felt even more alienated by seeing the photographs than he did before.  By exploring the realm of studio photography and practice in Ethiopia, he was able to get a much more intimate view: “This kind of studio photography says a lot more complex story than any of the famine images that were circulating at the time.”  This became part of the project of finding meaning beyond the photograph, its social life.  The studios were being co-opted and re-appropriated by people who visited these studios and so there was a whole participatory element to the studio photography that had been absent with photojournalism.  The social life of photographs had been awakened and Gottesman had become a part of it.  By using participation observation, stepping in front of the camera and becoming the subject himself, there was a deconstruction of the power relations of the images he was taking.  He became the subject and the Ethiopians became the ones looking at him in their environment, so he was becoming part of their social fabric and their ways of making meaning of the world around them.  There was a participatory dialogue where both subject and image-maker became interchangeable, making the educative process more participatory.  Wendy Ewald (USA) has collaborated on many photo literacy projects that deconstruct a singular authorship and instead facilitates multiple perspectives in their reading through participatory teaching and exhibition practices.  Giving illustrative examples of teachers that she has collaborated with in Tanzania, she spoke openly of how they wanted pictures in their classrooms, as visual aids so that they could include the reading of images into their curriculum practice.  The final project accumulated in a series of ten posters.  “I went to visit a teachers college so that they could design their visual aids,” she explained. “The teachers made up the questions that led them to read what makes a photograph interesting.  By all of us working together we decided what these pictures are and collaboratively created a design for each of these pictures.”  There is a mandate in Tanzania that the classroom should be participatory.  Photography became the intermediary between a teacher’s voice and a student’s voice which can be very empowering when there are challenging topics such as HIV and AIDS that must cover a whole lesson.  “The idea is actually to just follow things and let them lead you, rather than you directing it too much,” added Ewald. “The Pictures Woke People Up” is a collaborative project between Gottesman and Ewald with the indigenous Innu people of Labrador between 2007 and 2012.  The project explores preservation, repatriation and the emerging practices of social collaboration.  Innu people had been placed on a reservation that had arguably created social problems.  One of the first things that Gottesman and Ewald did was to go onto the reservation and show pictures of the community that Ewald had first taken in 1969.  These were then collected into an archive and exhibited in 2007. They had a participatory way of how to represent these pictures. The people in the community got people to vote.  By voting about the actual pictures that they wanted to show, they co-curated the actual exhibition themselves. Banners of the exhibition, placed in public spaces marked what was going on and they had a week of discussions.  The community had felt that they needed to be heard and finally they had a platform in which they could speak out.  A lot people in the community wanted an archive, so Gottesman and Ewald started posting photographs to Facebook.  There were many comments about photographs of people that they recognized. There was a photo of a shaman; the comments that were posted were very different from what had been in the museum.  The caption in the museum had just simply described the name of the shaman and his role.  On Facebook, however, the Innu community who had known him were posting all sorts of personal amusing anecdotes such as, “He was such a player” “This guy was really magical and powerful.” To re-include their perspectives that had previously been excluded, Ewald and Gottesman printed out these photographs with the Facebook comments and exhibited them in the gallery, allowing multiple perspectives to flood into the exhibition space. Enrico Bossan (Italy), the Editor of Colors magazine, took the floor and asked rhetorically who checks their social networks first thing in the morning and who, alternatively, checks the newspapers?  There has been a great shift in whom people are willing to trust in the media.  Citizen journalism has actually become a hugely important aspect of our social fabric and our way of understanding our world.  We are no longer, as we were in the past, bound whole Kodak ownership.  It seems we are only just beginning to understand the importance of this shift.  Can mobile phones be this new device for sharing and understanding the world? Bossan poses this question as an important one.  His visual understanding of the world is that at an apex of “Social meets art, art meets social.” He emphasized that being a photographer is not about only developing a technical skill, nor it is just about the pleasure of the image.  Visual literacy is about deciding what is important to be documented and how it can be documented.  Giving examples of young photographers that have collaborated with him through Fabrica, he spoke sincerely of how these photographers had touched him with their courage in subject matter, honesty of view-point and thoughtful, artistic composition.  This is something that has become very important to him in the way in which we understand the whole participatory practices of photography.
Jessica White is a guest blogger for Salzburg Global Seminar during the session "Power in Whose Palm? The Digital Democratization of Photography". She is a curator, art education facilitator and writer. She is founder of Thinc, an intercultural art education association that explores the central importance of learning through art. She studied at the University of Oxford, as well as in Manchester and Salzburg. She is currently active in creative curriculum implementation practices with various partners in Salzburg such as Spektrum, Land and Stadt Salzburg. Her most recent project is interdisciplinary in focus giving at risk teenagers opportunities to experiment learning English through art. Furthermore she is joint coordinator and educator for a Comenius EU project bringing together eight European countries by learning through art. She is also curator and manager to a portrait photographer in Vienna and often researches and publishes photo-essays.
READ MORE...
Power in Whose Palm? Day 1: From Memory to Experience
Power in Whose Palm? Day 1: From Memory to Experience
Jessica White 
How do we maintain a business when the ground is shifting beneath our feet?  What does that mean on a daily basis?  Looking at the volume of photography out there, most of it is not professional photography—it is mimicking photography using new tools. This raises the questions: where are we going and what do we need to do to get there?  Opening the fireside discussion on the first night of the seminar "Power in Whose Palm? The Digital Democratization of Photography", Stephan Mayes, the managing director of VII Photo Agency, Brooklyn, New York, in coversation with Manuel Toscano, Principal at Zago, New York, spoke of the transformation from memory to experience. With so many people taking pictures on their cell phones nowadays, there are a variety of factors that are already starkly different from traditional photography.  Portability; you are no longer separate from the people that you are photographing. You are physically much closer, but also there is the perception that you are closer.  You are a publisher, you are actively publishing.  You are freer as well; you can choose your tone of voice and your audience. One major difference of cell phone photography is time.  Photography is composed over a period of time. It becomes just a moment that was referred to that day and you don’t go back to that picture to see that picture, you go back to see what is next.  Like a referencing and index point to events in a streaming environment. A few days later and the image has disappeared completely. David Hockney captured the time aspect in photography before the advent of cell phone capturing by splitting the image into a series of smaller images to be pieced together.  This enabled time to be a factor in the comprehension of the image. This time factor is ubiquitous with cell phone photography. That is the fundamental shift. Mayes spoke of a “quantum shift” in photography. The old fashioned photograph was a fixed document. The very structure of image, was a fixed object. Now no point is fixed, now it is polysemic.  The image has moved from being a fixed record to being multiple and contradictory all at the same time. We are living in a streaming environment.  A photo essay in Life magazine had a beginning, middle and end. In a streaming environment there is no beginning, middle and end. Photography is a medium that is deeply interwoven with the changes that happen around us. With the phenomenal popularity of the social media photo platform, Instagram people have been talking about how wonderfully nostalgic the images are is whilst forging their way into digital age.  There is a process of layering what we understand from yesterday onto the contemporary process today. Toscano steered the conversation to questions about authorship and value of the image itself  and democratization.  Mayes unraveled the different elements, saying that these issues are being defined by the users not the professionals.  There is an increased responsibility on the viewer to understand what they are seeing.  Examples can be seen from Syria and throughout the Arab world that images drive and greatly influence revolution—but on the other hand we are being manipulated by contradictory images.  Thus the viewing process becomes a process of education and is increasingly political.  What stance do professional photographers take in this environment? Whatever that stance is, actually starts to become political. With break-out questions from the audience, concerns were raised regarding Photoshop and how it is used in an amateur manner and bringing about gross misrepresentation.  Mayes clarified that unfortunately misrepresentation cannot be stopped but we can respond and answer it.  With the increase of abuse of media imagery, so too comes the ability to respond to it or to question and reflect. With an increasingly sharing landscape there is a rejection of authority.  The public becomes curators and authority is fractured, which is a good thing in the same way that cubism broke up the singular perspective.  There is a desire not to hear from Time Warner—users want to hear from someone that they know and trust.  This flows into the power of citizen journalism. However, citizen journalists are not trained story tellers, whereas the professional photographers are. They are not about what they see, but more about ‘what does this mean?'  Thus there is still a role for everyone to coexist in this visual rich landscape, where there are now more opportunities to receive multiple perspectives, but the ways in which these perspectives are consumed are different.  There is the streaming side, accenting a moment that is quickly looking round for what next, and there is the reflective element which is the realm of professional photographers.  Often professional photographers find themselves caught up in the speedy streaming landscape and then there are questions that are raised, such as, “Can I trust this image?, because I haven’t got time to review it because if I don’t post it now the moment will be gone.”  However, this can only be a good thing, as it asks of professional photographers to be more of a reflective practitioner on every level.  
Jessica White is a guest blogger for Salzburg Global Seminar during the session "Power in Whose Palm? The Digital Democratization of Photography". She is a curator, art education facilitator and writer. She is founder of Thinc, an intercultural art education association that explores the central importance of learning through art. She studied at the University of Oxford, as well as in Manchester and Salzburg. She is currently active in creative curriculum implementation practices with various partners in Salzburg such as Spektrum, Land and Stadt Salzburg. Her most recent project is interdisciplinary in focus giving at risk teenagers opportunities to experiment learning English through art. Furthermore she is joint coordinator and educator for a Comenius EU project bringing together eight European countries by learning through art. She is also curator and manager to a portrait photographer in Vienna and often researches and publishes photo-essays.  
READ MORE...
Displaying results 995 to 1001 out of 1080