Thinking inside the box

I have had a picture in mind as I’ve been developing this practice-research PhD. It’s been a box (black naturally, Bruno). An object. This would be what I would have created and used to learn about protocols, jpeg, objects and photography. Obviously it could not have contained jpeg – the whole point is that it withdraws. Present within software, connected with other actants it remained unvisible. I imagined three scopic apparatuses designed to explore that puzzling objects: a with protocol apparatus of mashups and screengrabs creating jpeg images of jpeg’s traces – images of the scopic stream; an outside protocol apparatus using a stereo camera to create images that could not be jpeg; an against protocol apparatus using jpeg and RAW to protocols to explore the visibility and unvisibility of encoded image data.

Each of these apparatuses had their traces – jpeg/JFIF image files, RAW files and analog slides. It was these traces that I wanted to include in the box.  Furthermore, it was using these apparatuses that enabled me to learn about protocol, objects and my own practice as an object-oriented photographer. This practice of imagining and using the apparatuses was what I need to present to the examiner.

I chose to make my conclusions part of my practice. Not just an academic account of theoretically-informed knowledge gleaned from practice but an active player, an actant in the practice-research objects I work with and will hand in to be examined on. I chose to produce a work around Robert Frank’s The Americans. I read Frank as an object-oriented photographer, his practice as built around a flat ontological photography and the The Americans photowork as an object-photowork, a conjunction of nested objects that parallels my own. I look to create written and photographic engagement with Frank as a way of engaging with what I have found about my position as a (jpeg) photographer, object-oriented (jpeg )photography and the (jpeg) photo-object. This photo/text work would be the coming together of practice and research, both a work in itself and an account of my research findings.

This needed to be in the Box.

Until now, I had been considering creating a digital object. This would bring together the protocol imagings as well as my photo/text work, research findings. I knew I did not want to place this work online as a website or installation because one of the key themes of the work was the off-Net object. I looked at the individual digital object- an eBook or digital work on an iPad, and iPhone or a Kindle. I have explored ePub open standards, PDF, KIndle AZW files, Adobe Digital Publishing folios and even Objective C or Android-authored Apps. All of these options were run through with their own issues of protocol and standards. All were their own spaces of objects within objects.

But to add those objects to the mix (although of course they are inevitably part of the protocol ecology under investigation) would be lose focus. This box is about jpeg. It’s not about IoS or e-Ink or PDF or mobility. Alongside the slides and the prints I chose to simply include the jpeg/JFIF and RAW files on a memory card. Off Net but easily on Net by connecting to a computer or device (wirelessly or by USB) that can render some files visible and other unvisible, some part of the stream and search-space others not. The images like jpeg itself were platform agnostic, but deeply connected with those platforms.

As for the text, I chose to make that, like the images and Frank’s (paper) road movie and Benjamin’s Arcades Project index cards, as individual objects – as jpeg/JFIF and RAW files. Each protocol-encoded page of the work would, like the images be visible and unvisible. In addition they could be rendered as searchable via OCR or remain mute and unvisible on the SD card.

The box cannot contain jpeg. It can contain the traces as well as the traces of where it cannot work – the slides and viewer/viewing experience.