Nicholas Mirzoeff: Visual Activism

“In Germany, an opinion poll found that 24 percent of young people expressed the desire to become an artist. I don’t think that suddenly a quarter of all Germans want to be painters or sculptors. Rather, art might seem to be the only way to live a life for yourself in the global economy, as opposed to the dominant so-called service economy in which we work, not for each other but for someone else’s profit. This desire to live otherwise lies behind the worldwide surge in participatory media, from YouTube channels to Snapchatting, and performance. […] In visual activist projects, there is an alternative visual vocabulary emerging. It is collective and collaborative, containing archiving, networking, researching, and mapping among other tools, all in the service of a vision of making change. […] In 1990, we could use visual culture to criticize and counter the way that we were depicted in art, film, and mass media. Today, we can actively use visual culture to create new self-images, new ways to see and be seen, and new ways to see the world. That is visual activism.”

Nicholas Mirzoeff: Computational Images

“All the “images,” whether moving or still, that appear in the new archives are variants of digital information. Technically, they are not images at all, but rendered results of computation. […] A modern camera still makes a shutter sound when you press the button, but the mirror that used to move, making that noise, is no longer there. The digital camera references the analog film camera without being the same. In many cases, what we can “see” in the image, we could never see with our own eyes. What we see in the photograph is a computation, itself created by “tiling” different images that were further processed to generate color and contrast. It is a way to see the world enabled by machines.” Nicholas Mirzoeff, How to See the World. An Introduction to Images, from Self-portraits to Selfies, Maps to Movies, and More, Basic Books, New York 2016