Catherine M Weir

Catherine M Weir

Issued: Fri, 25 May 2018 14:37:00 BST

The Digital Index: Creating Immediacy through the Integration of Digital Photography and Captured Data

Name: Catherine M Weir

HEI: The Glasgow School of Art

Captured from life, the chemical-based photograph was long regarded as an image with an indexical link to its referent. To quote Roland Barthes, unlike a painting, which can “feign reality without having seen it”, the photograph can only ever depict the “necessarily real thing” which once posed before the lens of the camera. With the arrival of digital photography however, many theorists denied the new medium this claim to indexicality; arguing the ease with which digital photographs could be manipulated meant there was no longer any guarantee the depicted objects ever appeared before a camera. Today’s digital photographic images, however, are no longer the same remediations of chemical photography which first prompted these claims, but instead represent a convergence of digitally-produced photographs and computer programs.

It was against this backdrop, my practice-based research drew on both photographic and computational arts practices to explore the complexities of the indexical sign, and how the concept can be reframed in today’s digital context. Specifically, I sought to establish if the merging of digital photographs with real-time and historical data – derived from physical sensors, observation, and Internet sources – in custom software artworks could constitute an indexical link to the world, and amplify the sense of immediacy associated with photographic artworks: the sense they have a source or contact point in the physical world.