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​Image as infrastructure: 3 situations representing the post-photographic era

, Art & Design

Claire Hentschker, Merch Mulch, 2017

A photograph in contemporary reality is not just an image – it’s data that is distributed across the global network, the product of a technological, social, and economic infrastructure. Referring to Benjamin Bratton’s ‘ The Stack,’ Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland launched the ‘Infrastructure’ cluster as a part of the post-photographic project ‘SITUATIONS.’

The artists featured in ‘SITUATIONS’ aim to bridge the gap between traditional photography and its computational present. It shows an innovative way of combining a physical museum space with an online platform. By using a cluster structure and tags for the navigation and organization of the museum space, curators integrate the virtual and physical aspects of the photographic.

The ‘Infrastructure’ cluster celebrates the multidimensionality of the photographic and focuses on the footprint that its infrastructure leaves behind in the material and digital worlds. Strelka Magazine shares three visual situations representing this condition.

‘Infrastructure’ is on display at the Fotomuseum Winterthur until April 22.

"Planetary-scale computation takes different forms at different scales – energy and mineral sourcing and grids; subterranean cloud infrastructure; urban software and public service privatization; massive universal addressing."

Benjamin H. Bratton, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty



By Network Ensemble

Urban spaces are penetrated with an infrastructure of invisible communications. In Network Study I, VII & VIII, the London-based collective Network Ensemble examines infrastructural intersections, such as public institutions, where network exchange occurs by externalizing the flow of data. The collective developed a software that gathers, compiles, and analyzes data from nearby digital networks, such as WiFi, and then converts them into sonic signals – a hissing or clicking that varies according to the nature and intensity of the data. This data also manipulates and alters images appropriated from the internet. By breaking these technological recordings into audiovisual components, the collective embodies the invisible streams of information that surround us.



By Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen

Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen, Avant Tout, Discipline, printed voiles, 2017

These artists acknowledge the material component of digital devices: terabytes of information are transmitted daily through smartphones, while users are unaware of their material trace. In the following piece, Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen analyze the geopolitical complexity and material side of our everyday communication process.

This alien landscape, generated by a game engine, depicts a coltan mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It looks peaceful at first sight, but coltan has played a major role in conflicts and violence that have gripped the region, and is widely used in smartphone and game console production.



By Claire Hentschker

In the 360° video Merch Mulch, Claire Hentschker examines American shopping malls that were demolished through photogrammetry – a technique that turns photographic images of an object or space into 3D models. These fragments of social, economic, and cultural spaces become a digital conglomeration. Walking a viewer through the surreal architecture with missing data and glitched out mappings, the artist questions photorealism and offers an alternative reconstruction of the past. The reality in Merch Mulch, distorted and fragmented, presents a confluence of shared memories amalgamated into a three-dimensional virtual space.

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