Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Joachim Schmid, Other People's Photographs


Photography as a medium of originality can be explored in museum collections, from the rough-hewn negatives & positives of the calotype, to the MFA mandated images of today. If one were to consider photography not just as another medium, but as a social phenomenon, its ubiquity as well as its banality must be taken into account. From the introduction of the Kodak camera (& image) in 1888, which created a global amateur market, photography has had a role beyond its aesthetics, in the everyday.

The industrialization of imagery, its crazy ubiquity, as well as its acceptance, indicates a faith which may extend beyond the average. The lowest common denominator may be recognition, if nothing else. A tacit faith in doing something, with a machine, which in its objectivity, denotes a moment, its reality.

I first noticed the books of Joachim Schmid on the shelves at Printed Matter. There is a great deal of humor in Schmid's self-published books, such as Phantome, in which a sort of game is involved, matching up media images of criminals with their crimes. Schmid addresses the absolute & unconscious aspect of photography, the fact that it is accepted without a question, as well as its role in daily life, whether or not that is actually clear. It is simply there.

The books,"Other People's Pictures" are a series of POD books available from Blurb. Culled from flickr, Schmid has created his own taxonomies using appropriate key words, & utilizing the daily excess of on line postings. "Other people's pictures" indicates a willingness to share & to be like others as much as it will show a sense of standing alone. Photography is a lonely but ubiquitous enterprise. I is like others.

Schmid's books interject in a daily electronic culture, a vast every-expanding archive of virtual collections.

The apparent clarity of selected keywords ("Mickey" or "Digits" for example) become strange & exotic. Ostensibly each book ordered from Schmid is itself unique in its selection & editing. No two are exactly alike, yet all are so familiar.

Photography in Schmid's book becomes a shared technology rather than a singular expressive medium. Our fantasies are also someone else's & we can see so, easily. On sites such as flickr this may be the salient detail/ which prompts not only an excess of compiling images, but of circulating them in an efficient & globally open manner.