Unknown Unknowns: things we do not know we do not know


In her book, ‘A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Postmedium Condition’, Rosalind Krauss, commenting on the omnipresence of digital imagery in the visual arts, proposes the notion of a ‘postmedium’ environment where no one mode of artistic expression takes precedence over another. In this milieu, photographic and video images are to be found manifest in a range of contemporary work, usually under the rubric of so-called ‘new media’. Referencing Frederic Jameson, Krauss suggests that the image, whether produced by advertising, communications or cyber media, saturates cultural space and problematizes every aspect of the aesthetic experience, including the very nature of the individual work of art. My paper, including references to my own art practice, will address lens-based imagery not only as the product of the discrete photographic apparatus, but also in terms of what Lev Manovich has referred to as the digital ‘synthetic photograph’. Baudrillard has as much as suggested that digital multimediatizing constitutes an ‘opening up to the infinite’, and that this deregulation literally constitutes ‘the death of photography by its elevation to the stage of performance’. My paper will explore this deregulation in terms of the democratization of the networked image, which has been achieved through popular intervention in its structural, social and political substrates – from the ‘9/11’ era of the handy cam to more recent camera phone reportage; and from 24-hour CNN image bombardment to the immersive world of computer simulation games.