Archiving the Digital Photograph – Group A2

With the creation of new digital technology, humans have periodically transitioned things that were once analog into a newer digital form.  This transition happened with text, sound, and in the past few decades pictures and videos.  With the creation and wide adoption of the smartphone, snapping a picture to remember a moment in time is easier than ever.  By repeatedly doing this, we are effectively creating a digital archive of the memories tucked away deep inside our brains. The act of archiving memories using pictures is similar to the idea of the memex, in the sense that once we archive a memory (or save it forever as a digital photograph) we can then come back and experience that time once again though the physical moment has long passed.  This supports Vannevar Bush’s claim that “improved technology has become as extension of our capabilities.”  Once a moment is over, we physically are never able to experience it again, however archiving the moment makes repeating the emotional experience very possible, giving us the power of “time travel.”

In our video, we will display the idea of archiving memories using a cover of the song Photograph by Nickelback.  Our songvid will overlay images and videos of things such as people taking, posting, and deleting digital photos, while attempting to also show the transition that occurred as the digital revolution changed the how the photograph actually existed..  The song, which is about reminiscing and remembering the past based off of pictures and other items connected to our past selves, directly relates to this idea.  We also intend to show how by archiving using photographs, you can travel back through time by simply scrolling through a timeline.

In class when we talked about Google and Wikipedia, it was noted that the importance of archiving is to make information more accessible.  Though this was in relation to text and information, the exact same concept is true when applied to photographs.  Social media such as Facebook or Instagram act as our “memex,” making it so that each and every one of the things we want remembered, are indexed and saved into history forever.  Vannevar Bush in his essay originally outlining the memex said, “A library of a million volumes could be compressed into one end of a desk.”  This is essentially what these various social media platforms have become for us––though rather than in the end of a desk, they live in the palm of our hands.

An example of the songvid genre of remix is shown below.  We will be utilizing the same techniques demonstrated in the video for argumentative purposes rather than purely for entertainment, however the premise of the video will be much of the same.

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One comment on “Archiving the Digital Photograph – Group A2

  1. Both the link to the song and the video are helpful in terms of getting a sense of the look/feel you’re going for. A question you should discuss as a group, and your video project will need to grapple with, is what makes digital modes of photographic archival different from analog forms (the photo album referenced in the song, or a scrapbook)? Your references to Bush’s memex work nicely, but that was still conceptualized as a fairly personal (memory) device, with some limited sharing capabilities, and it’s a bit unclear how how you’re going to make those references/ideas clear through imagery. So, push these ideas a bit further- is this just about our own digital archives? Or that these archives are now networked? You reference our conversation on collective intelligence, so are you suggesting that a sort of “collective memory” emerges from this capacity to digital archive photographs?

    I also wonder if you’re going too literal with the song selection here, at the expense of picking something that will more effectively make the argument you outline above. Yes, the song is about nostalgia and memory, and the differences between “now” and “then,” but it’s also fairly wistful in tone, so you might need to be careful of this coding as anti-digital photography/archiving. You gesture to showing this as a progression, rather than a comparison, and that might help mitigate those interpretations.

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