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The Image’s Quest to Move Far & Fast

Newly established Edition MK (a small-scale, independent publishing platform founded in Minneapolis as an extension of Making Known) announces the release of its debut title, DDDDoomed—Or, Collectors & Curators of the Image: A Brief Future History of the Image Aggregator, which forms Vol. I of VIII of a series titled Img Ctrl—texts regarding the contemporary […]

Newly established Edition MK (a small-scale, independent publishing platform founded in Minneapolis as an extension of Making Known) announces the release of its debut title, DDDDoomed—Or, Collectors & Curators of the Image: A Brief Future History of the Image Aggregator, which forms Vol. I of VIII of a series titled Img Ctrl—texts regarding the contemporary image world.

About DDDDoomed

DDDDoomed, crafted as a speculative fiction that unfolds from the perspective of a future commentator reflecting back and theorizing about the factors that brought about the dysfunctional state of the contemporary image world, tells the story of how the image (specifically, the online image) devolved in the hands of image aggregators (IAs).

IAs, as DDDDoomed asserts, in having “single-handedly pave[d] the way for a young and Internet-reliant culture’s collective disinterest in even the most essential content of an image,” have turned the image into an aimless one that is made intentionally devoid of its meaning, knowledge, and even of its most basic identifying information. Furthermore, it is argued that “by devaluing [the] image’s potency … IAs were effectively exaggerating the worth of their role by convincing the viewers of their websites that their assembled collection … was, paradoxically, to be the sole object of spectacle.”

DDDDoomed offers a thorough look at the contemporary (online) image world through the lenses of comparatively important image and photography-based artworks, image archives, and artists who are engaged with the collection and use of disparate images.



Preview of DDDDoomed

The following excerpt has been adapted from the chapter titled “The Image’s Quest to Move Far & Fast”

… Within the world of IA [Image Aggregator] websites, even the seemingly simple act of recognizing an image’s author proved to be a task that was chronically prone to oversight. Unsettling as these oversights were, many of the “content-conscious,” having waved their proverbial white flags, put out the question of how, in an online world so heavily influenced by the IA, any digital, online-bound image could have ever existed as anything but an autonomous “thing.” Defeated, out-numbered, and barely able to imagine a world of online images that were untouched by the IA, they thought: “just how could the image have ever existed as one that was full of all of the information, content, and contextual substance that had ‘weighed it down’ before the IA set it ‘free’?”

According to the IA, all of this “weight” attached to the image was, for the most part, seen as textual in nature. Therefore, in taking into account certain basic principles of physics, it wasn’t entirely surprising to know that the image, in its quest to move far and fast between many IA websites, had to shed its extraneous “weight” in order to flourish in the sense that IAs defined flourishing.*

But despite the image’s aforementioned transformation into a streamline being, its surface and appearance changed, relatively speaking, very little. As such, an image always retained some form of subtextual meaning—albeit in vastly differing capacities and in ways that were not likely intended by the image’s creator—that could be implicitly understood by its viewer. Yet, especially for the IA who typically only had an eye for aesthetic matters, interpreting and properly representing online images in a manner that strengthened the meaning and history of those images was, from the outset of IA culture, to put it lightly, ill-fated.

And as if each viewer’s history and state of mind were not already enough to drastically scramble any possibility of an image being interpreted in a manner that was intended by its creator; the always-altering and heterogeneous environments of the Internet had made it even more exponentially possible for an image’s meaning to be (mis)translated in ways that were never imagined by the image’s creator. …

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*
The IA’s notion of “flourishing” was more often than not based upon their own gauging of web analytics such as the number of page views or visitors their website received or, more commonly, was based upon, for example, the number of “likes” their image tallied on Tumblr or times their image was “saved” on FFFFound!. This pervasive data and analytics-driven online culture had undoubtedly placed unforeseen expectations of performance upon the IAs. The aftermath of this widespread occurrence was interpreted in an incredibly honest way by Daniel van der Velden, who, in a 2009 essay, described the culture and habits of a growing generation of Internet-reliant creatives who came to life in the early twenty-first century century by succinctly stating that: “[in a] network … so interdependent and self-congratulatory that it ultimately suppresses deviation from its unwritten rules … every formal gesture is kept in check by an imaginary audience of thousands of your best friends (van der Velden, “Shadow Practice,” in Churchward International Typefaces, ed. David Bennewith [Auckland, NZ: Clouds Publishing; Maastricht, NL: Jan van Eyck Academie, 2009], 104).



Purchase DDDDoomed

Published by Edition MK in November 2010, DDDDoomed is currently available for purchase at makingknown.org/editionmk.