A menu option. Notes on post-digital photography

Eva and Franco Mattes, The Others, 2011. Video, 137 min, dimension variable. Exhibition view, HEK, Basel 2012

I pick the phone, type the security code, aim straight to the “Camera” app. I raise it in front of me, and when the image I see on the screen convinces me, I press a virtual button. Three times. I open the gallery, choose the picture I prefer, select “Share” and “Instagram”. I frame the image, apply a filter, access the parameters and add some contrast. I proceed by “tagging” a person and adding a couple of #hashtags and a caption, then I share it. Instagram automatically posts my image on Facebook and Twitter. If I am lucky, a cloud of hearts and thumbs will rise around it, maybe a few comments. Maybe someone will download it and do something with it. Or maybe not. But, for sure, some obscure algorithm will use it to collect personal information about me or the person I tagged, and it will be more certain when it will suggest someone else to tag the same person in another image.

Caitlin Jones


“Thus the studio is a place of multiple activities: production, storage and finally, if all goes well, distribution.” [Daniel Buren 1979]
These words by Daniel Buren were originally meant as a critique of the traditional studio system, but the quotation in fact offers a prescient description of art production today. For many artists the notion of the studio does not present a problem to be dismantled or deconstructed. The laptop studio serves simultaneously as the tool, the space, the product and the frame. This conflation of the studio’s many functions is the goal, and quite often the meaning of the work.
The “post studio” laptop studio has other meaningful implications for contemporary art production. The concept of access transforms significantly within this notion of the studio. Access to (virtual) studio space, public access to artists’ work, artist access to materials—each of these transactions is enhanced in the shift. Traditional “open studio” conventions are rendered obsolete as, by its very nature, the laptop studio can always be “open.” The “post studio” laptop studio also significantly disrupts the temporal process of the traditional studio—moments of research, production and dissemination are continually evolving and reorganizing.
In these ways, post studio practice in a contemporary sense could be understood less as a reaction against established norms of production and distribution and more a reaction to expanded cultural platforms writ large.”

Caitlin Jones, “The Function of the Studio (when the studio is a laptop)”, in Art Lies, Issue 67, 2010.

Jennifer Allen


In the last issue of Mousse Magazine (Issue 26, December 2010, pp. 196 – 200), German art critic Jennifer Allen published an interesting article titled “From Media to New Media”. Addressing some recent events and publications, from Free to CRUMB’s latest outputs, she argues that the most revolutionary features of digital media – both in terms of distribution and production – are having little or no impact on the contemporary art world. Definitely a worth reading. Here a couple of quotes:

“While describing the gradual acceptance of new media art and artists, the retrospective view of A Brief History points to a basic conflict: to remain true to techy origins or to become part of the museum and the art market.”

“If there’s a new democracy to celebrate in the new media, the most democratic dimension is hard to see. While anyone can be an artist, a photographer and a filmaker […] everyone will not make it into the museum and the art market. We all increasingly use the same tools to do different tasks, even the same tactile gestures of clicking, saving, copying, pasting, sending. But that radical equality has not quite movedbeyond the screen.”