VIRTUAL MEMORY


The first digital image was created in 1957, a scanned photograph of Russell Kirsch’s infant son. Steven Sasson, an engineer at Kodak, invented the first electronic camera 18 years later. By the beginning of the 21st Century, digital cameras and images had become ubiquitous by the use of camera phones and internet websites.


Our relationship with photographs shifted as smartphones allowed us to create and share digital images with surprising ease. The common photograph has become a way to communicate instead of document. For example, during family vacations, instead of taking a snapshot of landmarks as a memento to put in an album, people now take selfies with the landmark in the background to send to friends and family, in order to communicate that they are there, in the now.


Source images are appropriated from a family archive and then digitally altered with a program written in Processing. Each pixel’s color information is read, compared to, and finally overwritten by a color that is stored in an array of randomly generated numbers, or a palette, which was approved by a human operator. The digital image is then resized by a nearest-neighbor algorithm, first as a 300x240-pixel image. This process is repeated seven times, with the image size decreasing by half, until a 5x4-pixel image is arrived at. This reduced image is ultimately a derivation of the original family photograph.


This body of work is a meditation on the shifting role between photochemical and digital image, and reflect a movement from continuous to discrete image information, that is, from continuous tone to discrete pixel. Do we lose something by culturally regulating the photograph to communicate the now, instead of documenting the past?

Using Format