Thursday 27th June 2013, 10:00am - 4:30pm, Waterside 2, The Watershed, Bristol, UK.
"This one-day symposium explores the historical present in creative practice. In a cultural climate that valorizes the 'now' what does it mean to occupy the present moment? Our aim is to examine the present tense of creative practice as itself historical as opposed to understanding it as the end point of a linear chronological line. The symposium is motivated by a desire to pay attention to the atmospheric 'thickness' of the present tense in art, media and design practices and to imagine what kinds of experience can be articulated when what Lauren Berlant calls the 'ongoingness' of life is slowed down and brought into visibility. The symposium includes papers on the historical present in relation to painting, sound, photography, film, digital media and video."
"The term covers (and promises) a lot, and a quick Google search fills in quite a bit of the territory. One enthusiast snagged the domain name, but there are plenty of others in the game.
One site notes that vernacular photography is '...one of the most affordable areas of collecting and therefore offers wonderful opportunities for the beginner to acquire beautiful examples of photographic art at very reasonable prices.' gargantuaphotos.com poses the basic question: 'Why would I buy someone else's crappy old photos?', and thefoundphoto.com is another gallery/vendor.
Boston University hosted Vernacular Reframed, 'a two-day interdisciplinary conference examining issues in vernacular photography' in November 2004, but lots of enthusiasts are in the game as well: Square America, bighappyfunhouse.com, and Junior Bonner blogs about the phenomenon. Some specialize in specific genres, like photobooth and African American Vernacular Photography. Ookpik specializes in Michigan photographs, happy palace has an eclectic (and ever-growing) mix, greywater posts 'photographs from films I processed that I found in old cameras...', and eBay has a Vernacular Photography Enthusiasts group with more than 100 members.
Serious scholarship is not far behind: Electronic Journal of Vernacular Photography may be stillborn, but Innocence regained? Or just another kind of fiction? from eye magazine suggests that there are many who take the medium seriously. One is Geoffrey Batchen who taught a course at CUNY's Graduate Center (there's a video of a lecture he gave at Brown)
Quite a few museums have had vernacular photography shows, including Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography at New York's Metropolitan Museum, and this grant proposal from the Indiana University Archives Seeing the Color of America: Digitizing the Charles Cushman Collection is evidence of archival interest in the medium.
My friend Joan Larcom reminds me of one of the authorities who has done the most in this realm, Michael Lesy, and his coinage of the term demotic photography, which I find a good supplement to 'vernacular'. A New York Times story notes that:
'In the past, Mr. Lesy has ruffled some academic feathers by arguing that what he calls 'demotic photography,' like family snapshots or picture postcards, deserves the same level of scholarly study traditionally given only to art photography... 'my whole intention is to subvert the [art photography] canon... There are possibilities that go beyond the safe definitions of what an artist is and what the camera is used for. ...Academics... deal with photographs as aesthetic, intellectual constructs, or as integers in philosophical or linguistic argument. That's not all they are. They're slippery and deeply emotionally charged. A photograph is a thing which, to use an old scholarly word, needs to be 'unpacked.' There's the manifest content, then half a dozen layered contents.'
(NYT 17 Dec 2005 sec B pg 9)"
(Hugh Blackmer, oook.info)
"With Carnegie Mellon's cloud-centric new mobile app, the process of matching a casual snapshot with a person's online identity takes less than a minute. Tools like PittPatt and other cloud-based facial recognition services rely on finding publicly available pictures of you online, whether it's a profile image for social networks like Facebook and Google Plus or from something more official from a company website or a college athletic portrait. In their most recent round of facial recognition studies, researchers at Carnegie Mellon were able to not only match unidentified profile photos from a dating website (where the vast majority of users operate pseudonymously) with positively identified Facebook photos, but also match pedestrians on a North American college campus with their online identities.
The repercussions of these studies go far beyond putting a name with a face; researchers Alessandro Acquisti, Ralph Gross, and Fred Stutzman anticipate that such technology represents a leap forward in the convergence of offline and online data and an advancement of the 'augmented reality' of complementary lives. With the use of publicly available Web 2.0 data, the researchers can potentially go from a snapshot to a Social Security number in a matter of minutes."
(Jared Keller, 29 September 2011, The Atlantic Magazine)
"AI's first half-century produced great accomplishments, but many of the field's successes have remained unsung beyond the AI community. AI's integration into the fabric of everyday life has had tremendous impact, but the public may not recognize its many roles or understand its fundamental goals. In response, AI Magazine has developed a poster to help educate students, faculty, and the public about AI and to spur them to find out more about the field.
The poster's design was based on input from experts on how to convey key aspects of AI and to capture the imagination of a broad audience. The design does not attempt the impossible feat of summarizing all of AI-or even a substantial part-in a single poster. Nor does it present a list of new advances, which would soon become obsolete. Instead, it presents a snapshot of a few aspects of AI selected to catalyze interest and to prompt viewers to find out more by exploring AAAI Web resources. The resulting poster, The AI Landscape, is inserted in this issue of the magazine. The AI Landscape provides a glimpse of AI's multifaceted role in service of society, an illustration of the types of questions being addressed by the field, and a pointer to Web resources including a timeline tracing the field's history."
(David Leake, Editor in chief, AI Magazine)
Fig.1 James Gary 'The AI Landscape' New York