"The Social Media Image" - a new paper from Nadav Hochman (Phototrails project)

Imageplot of 50,000 Instagram images from Paris (spring 2013) organized by average brightness and contrast.

The new paper by Nadav Hochman (see Phototrails project) has been published in BIG DATA and SOCIETY:

The Social Media Image

Download full paper text


How do the organization and presentation of large-scale social media
image sets in social networking apps affect the creation of visual
knowledge, value, and meaning?

The article analyzes fundamental elements in the changing syntax of
existing visual software ontology — the ways current social media
platforms and aggregators present and categorize social media images.
It shows how visual media created within social media platforms
follow distinct modes of knowledge production and acquisition.

First, I analyze the structure of social media images within data streams as
opposed to previous information organization in structured databases.
While the database has no pre-defined notions of time and thus
challenges traditional linear forms, the data stream re-emphasizes the
linearity of a particular data sequence and activates a set of new
relations to contemporary temporalities.

Next, I show how these visual arrangements and temporal principles are
manifested and discussed in three artworks: Untitled (Perfect
by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1991), The Clock by
Christian Marclay (2011), and Last Clock by Jussi Ängeslevä and
Ross Cooper (2002).

By emphasizing the technical and poetic ways in which social media
situate the present as a “thick” historical unit that embodies
multiple and synchronous temporalities, the article illuminates some
of the conditions, challenges, and tensions between former visual
structures and current ones, and unfolds the cultural significations
of contemporary big visual data.