Week 1: – The Global Image and Beyond

Week One of Module I: Positions & Practice raised many thought-provoking questions on the definition of the global image, what constitutes it and how has its narrative evolved overtime. The week’s topics brought to the forefront of my mind, the effects of technological advancements and how it has contributed to a shift in the global image. It also highlighted the different roles society has and continues to play in the direction and development of the global image.

These topics led me to view photography and what surrounds it today in a more critical manner than before. My previous thoughts on social media sites, photo sharing apps like Instagram and how they have contributed to the shift in the photographer’s voice, have deepened from casual observation to a curiously analytical perspective. I was forced to confront both my own subjective ideas and the subjective, collective ideas of others to arrive at what can be perceived as an objective-subjective point of view.

Research for Answers Leads to More Questions

Research on my views about the oversaturation of images and how they can affect us, led me to an article by ‘No Pictures, Please: Taking Photos May Impede Memory of Museum Tour.’ [1]

The article highlighted psychologist Dr. Linda Henkel of Fairfield University in Connecticut study on how people have come to rely on smartphones and cameras to record a memory rather than their own brain. After reading the article, I visited Sage Journals for clarity. The abstract provided a more detailed explanation about the study.

I Can’t Remember – I took too many photos…

Henkel’s study had taken place in a museum where participants were asked to note the objects they saw either by taking photos or by observing. The following day the participants’ memory was tested. The study revealed that those who had taken photographs of the objects in their entirety, remembered less than those who simply looked at the objects. The study also indicated that those who used the zoom function on their cameras to photograph the objects, were more likely to remember them. [2]

This certainly raised another set of questions, adding a more complex dimension to the global image and how technology has affected our general perceptions of what we see and how we process this information. Are we inclined to attach less significance to both images and global images that have been oversaturated by social media posts? Are we less compassionate about the sufferings of others in war and crisis because ‘we’ve had enough” of these images thrusted into our space? Is the global image under attack to redefine what constitutes it? A lot more questions than precise answers. What would be interesting to see, is a survey carried out on popular sites like Facebook and Instagram about these very questions. It would give a very interesting insight to the global nature of photography. I am curious enough to invest the time in creating a survey but dissecting and analysing the answers will need more than just curiosity.

[1] No Pictures, Please: Taking Photos May Impede Memory of Museum Tour. 2013. Association for Psychological Science. [online] Available at: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/no-pictures-please-taking-photos-may-impede-memory-of-museum-tour.html

[accessed on 12/10/2016]

[2] HENKEL, Linda A. 2013. Point-and-Shoot Memories

The Influence of Taking Photos on Memory for a Museum Tour. [online] Available at: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/12/04/0956797613504438.abstract

[accessed on 12/10/2016]

*Please note that I have backdated the actual post in order to contain the timeline of Week One’s topics. The post was written on 12/10/2016

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