Ian Bogost is a polymath who describes himself as "a designer, philosopher, critic, and researcher who focuses on computational media — videogames in particular. I'm also an author and an entrepreneur". He took part in the Third Object-Oriented Ontology Symposium held at the New School and delivered his talk remotely using a video: Seeing Things. The video is beautiful, elegiac and thought provoking. You can also read the text here: http://bogost.com/writing/seeing_things_1.shtml?unmobile. The lecture was a meditation on the work of street photographer Garry Winograd and his well-known aphorism: "I photograph the world to see what the world looks like in photographs."
Bogost draws a parallel with the website "Dear Photograph" (http://dearphotograph.com/) founded and curated by Taylor Jones. The idea of the site is a simple but powerful one - take an original photograph from the past, orient it in exactly same location as it was originally taken and then rephotograph it. The new photograph is then posted on-line with a short "letter" addressed "Dear Photograph..." As Bogost says: "A Dear Photograph is photographed to see what a photograph looks like in a photograph." Bogost encourages us to see these photographs not as social commentary or nostalgic memorials to loss but as artifacts, that is, as things. The aim he concludes is, "To see the world of things as things in a world, rather than our world, with things in it".
In this project I have used a technique based on the Dear Photograph concept, taking archive photographs and reorienting them in the present. In this way I hope to encourage the viewer to see the historical photographs for what they are, things in and of themselves. In the course of my work I sought to find an appropriate name for these composite pictures and recalled that Bogost refers to the "process of cataloguing being in a context" as ontography. I therefore refer to these pictures as "onotographs" which I hope captures their essential "thingness".
I have also sought to reverse the "Dear Photograph"concept by taking photographs of the present and placing in the past. My intention is that this form of "time travel" will prompt us to critically re-evaluate our relationship with the history of our environment. These can be seen here http://urt.parsons.edu/urt/research/record/1206 and here http://urt.parsons.edu/urt/research/record/1195.
This project has also been informed and inspired by a number of similar concepts in particular Sleeveface (www.sleeveface.com), Back to the Future by Irina Werning (http://irinawerning.com/back-to-the-fut/back-to-the-future/) and the work of Penelop Umbrico (www.penelopeumbrico.net).
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