It is the age of the image, can we trust it?

It is said we are now in the age of the image. Most people carry around a camera around with them, allowing them to capture still and moving images at any time. I have finally caught up with a new BBC documentary discussing the age of the image. I thought I would share my thoughts on it with you today.

The age of the image

The documentary tells us we take more images in a minute than were taken in the whole 19th century. It is no surprise then that we are so obsessed with images today. They are all around us. What makes this programme interesting though is the story it tells of how we got here.

It looks into how images formed an important storytelling format in the early 20th century. Art, film making and photography were all going through a transformation in the early 1900s. The technology became available for people to experiment and create new images. However, it was not necessarily for recording exactly what was in front of the creator.

An interesting element to the programme is the concept of manipulation and altering images. The film industry were obviously editing their films to tell a story, but this also happened in the still photography world much earlier than many people may realise.

One example given was Hurley, a war photographer during WWI. He created composite images to add planes and explosions to his photographs to over dramatise a scene. He felt that it told a greater story of the war. It does prove that editing images is nothing new – and not exclusive to the modern use of Photoshop.

Modern Examples of traditional art

One of the themes running through this programme is how still images can portray the 4th Dimension. The representation of Time. Albert Einstien was developing his theories during this period, which had a direct influence on how creative people portrayed “time” in their images.

Today we still see many of these themes being portrayed in photography. Techniques such as intentional camera movement (ICM), panning and composites all create this illusion of space-time.

ICM is one technique used to give a sense of time to the subject. In this technique, the photographer uses a slow shutter speed and moves the camera to create an abstract scene.

It is a technique I have played with myself with plants in my garden.

The age of the image - Intentional camera movement while capturing leaves moving in the garden.

Science meets art

I love the way the programme compares art and science. This really speaks to me. I have always been a fan of science and often photograph scientific subjects. I may not have proven a scientific theory with my images, but I love that the two can be intertwined.

It was also interesting to see the original concepts of scientific images. Now seen all over the internet – the water drop shot was first captured by Harold Edgerton. He experimented with strobe lights. This allowed him to “freeze time”. He went on to create many spectacular images using this technique.

Here is my modern fine art take on the liquid drop image:

A modern take on the original milk drop photograph captured by Harold Egerton.

The Age of the Image continues

I will be watching the rest of this series over the next few weeks and will share more of my insights later in the year.

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