Photography and New Media

Superdutch: New Media, Photography and the Internet-Polder by Jordan Tate/ Colour Data Processing An interactive installation exploring digital and analog representations of colour by Jordan Tate, Adam Tindale, and Ryan Boatright/ Matrix Mirror toward a Babel Archive by Renato Roque/ Nostalgia Ti Frega by Carla Drago
Tuesday, 20 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:20
Chair Person: 
Orhan Cem Çetin
Jordan Tate
Renato Roque
Carla Drago
Adam Tindale
Ryna Boatright

Superdutch: New Media, Photography and the Internet-Polder

by Jordan Tate

Superdutch: New Media, Photography and the Internet-Polder addresses meta-photographic / meta-digital new media works from the aesthetic perspective of contemporary dutch practices in photography and new media. This is simultaneously a reference to their geographic-aesthetic origins combined with ideas of kitsch, excess, and process-based inquiry. This paper is couched in the framework of understanding the internet and screen based media as a method of production and comprehension as well as a means of image reproduction and dissemination.

Implications of internet reproduction can be understood through superdutch works within the context of the polder model. The polder phenomenon mirrors the presentation, perception, and function of all new-media and screen based works. Consider the following: all web space is reclaimed, artificially kept online through a series of routers, domain name servers, internet hubs, and server farms, all directing information and traffic to domains much like the dikes and damns route water away from a polder. I submit that the creation and presentation of work on the internet-polder is a cooperative and collaborative act that surrenders all work and information to the interpretation, contextualization, and consensus-based decision-making of the viewing audience.

The conceptual concerns of superdutch works are fundamentally tied to process as aesthetic, creating self-critical, yet self-effacing works that question the aura of the work while challenging the structure of media where works are an application of and inquisition into the role of technology as medium. In a sense, we are engaging in a modernist critique of technology in a way that was impossible for the doyens of modernism. Echoing the words of the seminal media theorist, Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message.

Colour Data Processing An interactive installation exploring digital and analog representations of colour

by Jordan Tate, Adam Tindale, and Ryan Boatright

Colour Data Processing questions the veracity of photographic and digital reproduction, but not with the intent of challenging the context or state of photography, but rather establishing photography as a flawed method of reproduction.

Our system recontextualizes the functionality of the Gretag MacBeth ColorChecker1, addressing the instance of digital reproduction and valuing data over the accuracy of reproducing the physical referent. However, our referent is collected data from a sensor rather than the colour rendition chart, removing our process by a full reproductive generation. We embrace the same deviations and error commonly found in digital reproduction to critique and analyze our current methods of digital photographic reproductions.

We share an interest in questioning the representational nature of photography from technological, conceptual, and theoretical perspectives and what affect the instance of reproduction has on the perception of reality, or on the original. We intend to discuss the theoretical and practical implications of digital reproduction, colour sorting, and the function of algorithms (both practically and aesthetically) in image processing, reproduction, and manipulation.

Our proof-of-concept installation uses a webcam, custom-built computer, and a projector as a capture-processing-output device to implement our exploration and exposing of the colour representation. Processing2 was used to create custom software that determines the accuracy of colour by comparing RGB data to a pre-determined palette using Cartesian distance in 3D space. Two different representations are processed and displayed by the system. The first feed shows a live representation of the viewers with their colours shifted to a colour palette consisting of 64 different colours. The second video feed displays a black and white representation of the amount of shifting (or error) that occurred when the colours were converted.


1. McCamy, C.S., Marcus, H., and Davidson, J.G. A Color Rendition Chart. Journal of Applied Photographic Engineering, p. 95-99, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1976. 2. 

Matrix Mirror toward a Babel Archive

by Renato Roque

Matrix Mirrors is a photographic project on human identity and about the way identity is associated with the image of the human face. It makes use of special mirrors (matrix mirrors), consisting of matrix of numbers, calculated by mathematical tools from a database of portraits, to construct human face images.

How do we recognize a friend? What difference is there between my face and my neighbors’ face? What difference exists between a man and a woman’s face? Between an European and an African? What new information can I find in a new face of someone whom I have never seen before? All these are questions which Matrix Mirrors tries to address, trying to reach the essence of portrait photography and using a set of mathematical and scientific tools to work the image information. These questions are related with the very complex and sophisticated mechanisms that humans developed, creating specialized areas in the brain (just for faces), to get a quick and very efficient identification, based on a human face image.  

In Matrix Mirrors project 439 portraits were made in Oporto University: men and women from 18 to 65 years old. These face portraits were used to construct a face database. A set of mathematical and image processing tools were used to obtain essential sets of information from all those portraits, the so called components.

What is more relevant is that adding those components in the right percentage, all portraits can be very rapidly constructed: only about 20 to 30 components are necessary to get a portrait which is recognizable by most people. Curiously the experiments indicate that for example women faces can be reconstructed from men and the opposite is also true, proving that human faces are in fact very similar, allowing an easy recuperation of essential components from a quite small database and a rapid reconstruction of any face, man or woman, European, Asian or African. Will it be possible  to construct a virtual portrait Babel Archive[1], containing all real and virtual human portraits?

see images in

[1]Pls see Babel Library, a famous Borges’s story.

Nostalgia Ti Frega

by Carla Drago

Nostalgia Ti Frega is a photographic exploration of memory, identity, and place focusing on the emigrant community of a Sicilian village destroyed by an earthquake 40 years ago. The project, being completed as part of a Doctorate of Creative Arts at the University of Technology, Sydney, aims to capture a sense of the virtual space the village now inhabits within the community, the memories and stories that form this space, and the role of photographs in its construction. The intention is to create photographic objects, both digital and analog, that depict and engage the community of villagers and their descendents, and allow them to interact with and experience a sense of the 'village' today.

This presentation outlines the key influences across disciplines that have shaped the creative practice, and showcases a work-in-progress prototype of the final, hybrid, digital/analog product. Influences include Svetlana Boym's work on nostalgia (2001) and Paul Connerton's work on modern society and memory (1989, 2009). Investigations in the area of material culture and ethnography, examining the role of objects in the development and understanding of self, identity and emotion, have also contributed. Daniel Miller's research into the material cultures of contemporary British life (2008), Sherry Turkle's work on evocatively potent objects (2007) and Greg Nobel’s insights into containment and the cumulative self (2008, 2009) are key points of reference. Another important factor has been the use of user-centred design principles from the User Experience field of digital media. Developing out of the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) discipline of Computer Science, UX principles are concerned with the affect (or emotional impact) on users when using digital products. Donald J.Norman's work on product design (2002, 2004) and the hybrid digital/analog work of Brendan Dawes (2007) are examples that have informed the project’s direction. And finally, Through showcasing the creative process of an artwork that is specific to a time, a people, and a place, and which traverses both analog and digital mediums, this presentation explores the ways in which ideas across different disciplines can be drawn on to create a bespoke and relevant framework within which to conduct creative practice.