6 min read

Pixel #3: Total Searchability

Featuring news, links and opinion from across the Pixelverse
Pixel #3: Total Searchability


This week we're thinking about the growth of cross-referentiality of images and how it intersects with surveillance, and what that might do for photography in the future. We're also eating cherries, because it's finally the season of soft fruit in Europe, and admiring the good folks of XR, who turned a police water cannon into a pool party on The Hague's A12. That and more, after the fold.


A selection of Facebook personality tests from nametests.com, a website which may have exposed the private data of 120 million Facebook users. Link

Where Does Photography Go In The Era Of Total Searchability?

The medium has always explored the private lives of other, but recent technological shifts blur the line between documentary and surveillance

Everybody knows about the dangers of sharing personal information online. An initial era of happy-go-lucky endless sharing has been replaced by a more cynical and knowing relationship with digital networks, at least as far as our personal lives are concerned. But as digital distribution and interpretation of images becomes ever faster, wider and smarter, even the most benign images be interrogated into giving up their secrets and photography must tread carefully.

Would you like to write a feature for us? Please do, because we really want to hear from you. Learn more and submit here- we even pay! (A little)

What We Were Reading While Writing That 👆🏼

Unsecured — WRO 2023 | 20th Media Art Biennale
Harness the tools of oppression for expression
Not the longest write-up in the world, but what a great concept.
Worldcoin Promised Free Crypto If They Scanned Their Eyeballs With “The Orb.” Now They Feel Robbed.
The Sam Altman–founded company Worldcoin says it aims to alleviate global poverty, but so far it has angered the very people it claims to be helping.
Will saw one of these booths operating in Kampala the other day, which is insane given what this article describes. 
The Follower
How does this work? I launched the project on 12 September 2022. The YouTube video was just created with results of 10 days. I will publish new results on my socials. To support my art I sell clocks that is showing how much percent of your life is completed based on your life expectancy. The…
We're all already online whether we like it or not- maybe the question is not how to escape it but instead how to turn the inescapable to our advantage.
Evidence Locker | Jill Magid
Jill Magid is an American artist and writer. In Magid’s work, she forms intimate relationships with systems of power, including police, secret service, CCTV and forensics.
Before there was Dries Depoorter, there was Jill Magid. If you know who came before Jill Magid, please get in touch.
Artists use surveillance technology to explore extent we are monitored
Trace Recordings, an exhibition at the UTS gallery, Sydney, suggests that much as much as we might value our individuality, we are at some fundamental level just averaged out data
An old review, but full of interesting citations.


History Will Complete The Puzzle

An interview with Wai Hang Siu, the artist behind 'Clean Action Hong Kong'

"The author is dead, and we are in the post-truth era. As photographers, we should accept that no absolute truth exists in the world, but instead we should at least believe that our photography can reveal part of reality and employ it ethically. History will complete the puzzle. The more photographs we have, the closer we will be to an absolute truth."

Amazing Video Alert

The trailer for Dutch theatre director Dries Verhoeven's recent Dear Beloved Friend, a theatrical performance beamed from Lagos, Nigeria, to live audiences in the Netherlands. It might only be a trailer, but this thing is hypnotic.

How to Write an Open Call

Photoforum's current open call is open only to members, but we love the introductory text which lays out the conceptual basis for the show.

Open Call – Prix Photoforum 2023 Professionally active photographers and artists are invited to apply for the Prix Photoforum. Projects in all formats linked to photography – installations, prints, videos, digital works, network, and computer art – are welcome. The competition enables selected p…
The curatorial concept is 'Bodies That Glitch', which is such a beautiful response to what the organisers term an "age of hyper-visibility".

And while we're here, if you're a recent graduate then the RPS postgraduate bursary is still open for a few more days. Read the rules here!

Hilton Als on Instagram

This link comes via an interview with Dirt, and while the interview is perhaps less perceptive than we would hope, the Instagram feed is a total delight.

We Should All Listen To Françoise Vergès

We're fans of the writing of Manon Mollard, but this interview is a cut above, even for her. She's interviewing Françoise Vergès, and the result is a short, clear and engaging text which, in just a short handful of sentences, goes further and deeper than most books on the topic of decolonisation.

Interview with Françoise Vergès - Architectural Review
Programme de Désordre Absolu: Décoloniser le musée by Françoise Vergès La Fabrique, 2023 What challenges face the contemporary museum? Today, 61 per cent

Why Make Pictures When You Can Just Demand Them From A Computer Update

Since Boris Eldagsen's recent cat-among-pigeons assault on photography's prim demand that we all reject AI outright, there have been some pretty swift steps in a variety of interesting places. One small but perhaps meaningful change is an increasing coalescence around Elke Reinhuber's term 'Synthographer' for people who make images using these systems. It's now defined on Wikipedia, so it must be real.

Danish artist Bjoern Karmann has announced the Paragraphica, a 'context-to-image' camera which uses information derived from geolocation to prompt an generative image of the scene which might be in front of it. The questions it raises are not easy to answer.

Meanwhile over on Reddit, user u/adesigne was playing around with Adobe's new AI Generative Fill and did this:

Photoshop AI Generative Fill was used for its intended purpose
by u/adesigne in ChatGPT

And finally to round off this segment, a great interview with Dr Andrés Guadamuz about AI training models, in which he explains why current legal challenges to AI imaging systems are likely to fail, and why that might be a good thing. Also features the wonderful sentence, "perhaps because I inhabit the persona of a llama online, people are more forceful".

‎Interdependence: Demystifying AI training law with TechnoLlama on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Interdependence, Ep Demystifying AI training law with TechnoLlama - May 22, 2023

One Last Thing

Old work from Nerhol, their Instagram feed is remarkable.