FROM HERE ON: Behold the post-photographic manifesto

By Cristina Álvarez Cañas. March 21, 2013

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"Attentive to major cultural and social changes, we are pleased to present a manifesto, an exhibition, and a book that reflect not so much an aesthetic trend as a radical about-face in the world of the visual image and communication".

Written by Vicenç Altaió, Director of the Arts Santa Mònica centre, the initial lines and title of the book From Here On highlight the need to face the future - or better said the present - of photography without fear or apprehension. Just 15 years ago - the blink of an eye as far as the history of humanity goes - we still used film rolls, negatives and analogue cameras. Now the 21st Century is here.

And this new millennium goes by the name internet. That is why photographer Joan Fontcuberta said “post-photography is nothing more than photography adapted to our online life” when summarising the concept for novices. Alongside another prestigious photographer, Martin Parr, Director of communications agency KesselsKramer, Erik Kessels, curator of the Pompidou Centre, Clément Chéroux, and the artist Joachim Schmid, he leads this manifesto offered in three languages (Catalan, Spanish and English) that takes the appearance and shape of an illustrated essay, in the widest sense of the word.

Through a series of images these six individuals offer an asymmetrical selection of artists and their projects, all contextualised within the unlimited and interconnected possibilities of the digital and technological era we live in. The 1001 propaganda-fuelled faces of Kim Jong-il - gathered together through anonymous images on a blog that were later published in a book by Marco Bohr - ; the Stopmotion Studies series by David Crawford, which contemplates fractions of seconds in the lives of Tokyo metro passengers; the most indiscreet and voyeur version of Google Street View, recorded by Jon Rafman; and the geeky touch added by former hacker James Howard, who uses the spam nobody is interested in to create multi-coloured collages. These are new expressions of visual language governed by serendipity, where smartphones, Google, Flickr, Tumblr and other social networks provide the fundamental channel.

However, beyond the anecdotal within the chaos of the visual ocean that the internet is today, From Here On also puts on paper (in other words makes idle) the driving force and essence of the conceptual projects of artists that we often see on a monitor (in other words in passing). The eye therefore understands the sense of many of those images. It assumes photographic maxims, such as the fact that the level of technical quality is not as important as the story immortalised. In so doing it draws a straight line to reach one of the main dogmas of post-photographic art: "It's not about producing masterpieces it's about prescribing senses".

In the digital era there are many stories, or "senses", that pass in front of our eyes and it is distraction or a nostalgia for anything analogue that is keeping us from enjoying them. From Here On, which - encouraged by Rencontres d’Arles - also serves as a catalogue for the exhibition of the same name in Barcelona's Arts Santa Mònica centre, seems to want to tell us that we should be even more astute than the lens.

“Photos no longer gather memories to keep but messages to send and exchange”, says Joan Fontcuberta, who in true Nietzsche fashion even embraces more revolutionary slogans: “Photography has ended up passing on the baton: post-photography is all that is left of photography”. This book is not suitable for the nostalgic.

 

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