Michael Nathaniel Meyer
Ideas • Images • Objects
Observational technologies interpose themselves between what passes before the apparatus and a viewers’ apprehension of it; these systems skew image making towards their own ends. I redirect and reclaim these distortions. By bending and remixing the optical, chemical, mechanical and electro-digital aspects of my image making process, I engage the unseen structures that support and are supported by photography.
My current works, One Pixel One Second and Transigram, begin with devices that I have designed and built. These Single Pixel Cameras and Black Box devices are the starting point for a generative process in which light is transformed into voltage, voltage into digitized sound, sound into data, and data into image. The imaging chain produces informationally dense photographic abstractions. While these images are more signal than noise, apophonia stirs in their echo of static. The intertwining of photography and computation in the digital era has reduced images' viability as reliable carriers of information reliably readable by human beings. Individual photographs are at once the confluence of multiple images as well as single drops in the stream of an informational firehose. The production and reading of images on our present scale and pace is possible only through mechanical and computational means. With the increasing rapidity engendered by digital platforms, images no longer anchor us in a time past, marking out moments for reflection and review, but instead extend an interminable now where one image replaces the next at the barest flick of a viewer's thumb before being lost to the flow. These One Pixel works consider photographs as information to be computed, parsed, copied and transmitted. What does the image look like within the computer, moving along its traces? As we create ever more sophisticated tools of mechanical vision and ever faster computational systems for parsing those images, it becomes critical that we ourselves are able to understand the fundamental processes within which these images function lest we lost sight of what they show us.
Mobile photography is Flusser's universe of technical images writ large. The process of creating and disseminating images is intuitive, ever-present and frictionless. For almost a decade I have been using my phone to photograph my wife photographing with her phone. She photographs our travel, meals with friends, and quotidian observations. Picturing speaks to the role that photography plays in daily life.
Journeys or Direct Forms engaged with photography's mechanical, optical and chemical processes. In Journeys I extended the photographic moment mechanically to create landscapes of time's passing. My interest was in considering the way in which the speed of time's passing seems to quicken and slow in our experience of the present. Direct Forms used chemical baths to destroy and re-compose images over extended periods of time lasting days, weeks, or months. These images' forms are direct renderings of the timeline and process of their creation.