This article, The Digital Afterlife of Lost Family Photos, is a thoughtful reflection on how something as seemingly benign as an old polaroid separated from its owner can create an ethical entanglement when an art project includes digitized images of people uploaded in social sharing platforms. Add in how race can complicate the subject of photography even further and lost family photos become a powerful reminder of how image making is never benign. As we move beyond an analog world thinking through the ethics of social sharing of images needs to be priority. For ‘art’s sake’ isn’t enough of a reason. Teju Cole reflects on photographer Zun Lee‘s project Fade Resistance and the complications of tagging, databases, and facial recognition software. I saw the physical installation of Lee’s Fade Resistance at Gladstone Hotel in Toronto a couple years back. I remember walking away considering some of the same questions as Cole’s poses here. The article adds more questions to my own.
People have a right to be skeptical about the encounter between the analog experience of life and the futuristic algorithms that often prioritize what is possible over what it desirable.
Read The New York Times article here.