Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sony NEX-5, Not Just a Fashion Accessory

You can set today's digital cameras on automatic and use them as jewelry...or take control and make meaningful images by starting out with a concept then learning enough about what the camera can do to control the end result.  On the most basic level setting the ASA/ISO, color balance and size of your .jpgs (or raw files) or manipulating the focus, exposure and flash takes the user beyond the generic point-and-shoot aesthetic.  We'll be experimenting with the Sony Nex-5 camera, which is lightweight and portable yet offers control. There's a beautiful "Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera Handbook" PDF you can download that offers helpful illustrations and instructions to aid you in understanding the camera's capabilities.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

People You May Know

Diego Velazquez: Las Meninas, 1656
In Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera since 1870, SFMOMA curator Sandra Phillips argues that photography has played a major role in voyeuristic looking. Velazquez famously recorded acts of looking as far back as 1656 in his Las Meninas painting. Contemporary artists Emily Jacir (linz diary) and Shizuka Yokomizo (Stanger series) make work about deliberate performances before an unseen but perceived camera reminding us that someone is always watching. Gladys Kravitz was the nosy neighbor archetype always looking out the window in Bewitched. Today, every cell phone has a camera and every person has a cell phone thus making it possible for any action to be captured by anybody. Boundaries between public and private space blur and the  doors are thrown open for ubiquitous self-surveillance as we all willingly post every detail of our lives on FaceBook or otherwise. The panopticon conceptualized by Michel Foucault (wherein we live with the idea of being watched and adjusting our behavior accordingly) has seduced us. Philip Agre in Surveillance and Capture: Two Models of Privacy cautions us as he critiques ways our daily activities are captured and turned into a commodity. 

Gladys Kravitz always watching on "Betwitched"

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Machine is Us/Ing Us

1945 ENIAC computer showed several problems with the H-Bomb Design
Why is Thomas Edison (inventor of the light bulb) a household name and not Doug Engelbart (inventor of the mouse and networked computing first demonstrated in 1968), Computer Lib/Dream Machines (inventor of hypertext) or Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web)? For one thing, Edison was an entrepreneurial business man while Engelbart, Nelson and Berners-Lee were idealists who saw their inventions as ways for people to share information and collaborate freely. Scholar Michael Wesch still believes the web is a huge collaborative project with all of us contributing using platforms that both help share information and fuel the capitalist machine. Lev Manovich also views Web 2.0 as a platform for mass collaboration.