A small task I was asked to do was to review two chapters of After Photography by Fred Ritchen:
After Photography, Fred Ritchen looks at the digital world that we now live in. He examines what this means for us but also what it means for photography as a medium. Especially now photography has become so accessible, cameras being fairly affordable, mobile phones have decent cameras on them and social media sites or google just having photographs available for download. I have decided to review two chapters from it; chapter four and chapter six.
I struggle when reading, I usually have to read over the same sentence repeatedly, which makes it a bore. However, this book kept me interested but it is also quite an easy read so I didn’t struggle too much. I like the way he explains things very clearly so someone inexperienced and without the digital knowledge can read this book and understand but also someone who has the knowledge doesn’t feel bored when reading the book. For example, in chapter four Ritchen talks about ‘image mapping’, which is “a cluster of pixels, or the entire image, could be linked to new images”. I think that is really concise yet detailed enough for new understandings to be gained.
Chapter four is a chapter called ‘Mosaic Connections’. The chapter starts with two photos. One is titled original and it just looks like lots of dots. The second is called detail and it shows plastic bottles. The caption explains that the original image is an image of two million plastic bottles, which the USA goes through every five minutes. This chapter talks about how a photograph is something different to a painting or drawing and that photography is actually an “image made of tiles”. This is how you connect with other mediums such as text or video. I found this quite interesting, as I never thought of a photograph like that. I like how this idea subtly relates back to the starting image. As each zoomed in detail of the image can be a tile, which is also a piece of, information in itself as you learn about the drinks people buy.
Chapter six is titled ‘Beginning the Conversation’. I like this idea of photograph starting discussions and debates. How do we harness that? I found it really interesting that just before most people really started to use the internet Ritchen worked with the New York Times to create a discussion using photographs from the conflict in Bosnia. I really like the way this chapter has got me thinking about online media and how to use it in a way to start a conversation. I think some of the more obvious methods work. For instance the start of the chapter there is an image of a woman with questions or statements you can say to her. This then can spark a conversation, Ritchen states people had conversations about feminism with her.
I definitely would recommend this book. Especially for those who want to know possibilities for the future of photography and the digital world. Or just those who want a book to create discussions.