Preliminary exercise: Image Flood

Re-photograph every photographic image that you encounter on a single day then construct a grid or contact sheet of all of the images. Write a reflective piece about this exercise considering what you have learned from this exercise.

I considered not completing this exercise as I could not readily see the benefit of doing so – clearly it is a given that we are bombarded a multitude of imagery each and every day and I could not really see how proving this would lead to any revelations. Despite this, I decided to go with the brief and give the exercise a go. As I thought about how I would complete this exercise, my initial consideration was how difficult it would be to photograph the images I came across over the course of a day. If I chose a day I was working, for example, I would miss a large number of images as I could not interrupt what I was doing to photograph, but, on my day off I probably would not see as many. What about the images I see as I am driving or while walking around, for example, in the supermarket? As an experiment, I decided to film my car journeys with my phone in a holder in my car windscreen and take screenshots of the images I encountered. I also held my phone and recorded my journey around the supermarket. The notes state not to worry about image quality for this exercise which is just as well as the screenshots are mostly very poor, they do however add to the ‘flood’ of images I viewed. I also took screenshots of any photographs I viewed on my computer or phone – the amount of these was the real surprise of the project. Although it seems obvious that the internet is driven by images the fact that I was shocked by the sheer amount that I saw during what I would consider casual browsing of social media and various websites perhaps demonstrates how much these wash over us as viewers. My concerns about trying to capture the images I came into contact with as I drove or walked around was driven by the thought that they would be many that I did not consciously register at the time. In fact, these were quite few and it was the pictures on my computer and smartphone screen that really stacked up. I ended up with 572 photographs – many of these have more than one image in them so the total number of actual photographs was many more. I estimate that this was a fraction of the actual images I encountered. I did not take a second photograph for example of the same thing, perhaps I should have as this would have given a truer amount of imagery I witnessed. Also, although I tried to photograph every image I saw, this was impossible in practice as I still had to go about my normal activities and the act of photographing was a distraction. I suspect that the real amount of photographs I encountered was in excess of 2000 if everything is taken into account. Another striking point is that on this particular day I was not particularly exposed to a large amount of imagery as I spent a lot of the day at home cooking, catching up with housework and reading. On a normal day, when I am working for example, I imagine I would encounter many more images – possibly thousands more – I do not think an accurate calculation of the amount of these is really possible. That we are asked to only include photographs (and videos) encountered rather than other images such as drawings or illustrations is interesting and I wonder about the significance of this distinction. Is this a suggestion that the photographic image is of higher status than a piece of artwork or illustration? Perhaps it is the alignment of the photographic image to the ‘real’ that is significant?

image flood

As an extra to this exercise, I decided to experiment with a video of the images cut in quick succession in an attempt to replicate the effect of being bombarded by images in a way that the still composite could not. This involved becoming quickly acquainted with Premiere Pro – something I have been meaning to do for a while as I am interested in experimenting with moving images. This first attempt at using Premiere Pro is rudimentary but was an interesting extra to the project which has inspired me to learn more about the software, the result also meets my idea of how this could be a better way of demonstrating the constant bombardment of images we face. Image Flood video here.