With the existence of more images comes a greater attention to details and nuances in what the images are saying. What kinds of images should be used to tell what kind of story? What is a good image and for which purpose must it be used? Whether natural disasters, major sports events or elections, wars or religious festivals, historical archives or contemporary creative images, decisions must constantly be made which effectively impact the viewers relationship to what they are seeing in the world. Depending on the angle and purpose, results always vary and this process of curation is made complicated. The installations at C / O Berlin Traces of Exile and Blame the Algorithm, directly touch on this game of image selection and how it impacts society’s view on different subjects.
Traces of Exile is a video installation by Thomas van Houtryve where he gathers images taken from instagram by refugees in different places, mostly selfies, matched against his own images taken in those same places and creates a visual map of these migrations. Simple yet telling, the piece exposes how differently not only specific places but also major global phenomenon’s like migration can be represented with imagery, which ultimately stems from just a person and a camera.
In Blame the Algorithm, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin — guest editors for the photography magazine Der Greif — collected images that were not seen as appropriate for the issue: either too explicit, political, violent or controversial for different reasons. They also turned to a former Facebook Moderator whose job was to sift through reported content to decide if it was appropriate for social media — everything from pornography, beheadings and domestic violence, to hate crimes and suicide threats. The team categorized a collection of photos as either good or bad for the installation, with the photos displayed on opposite sides of a corridor. The lines start to blur however, as both the cunning and perhaps in some cases offensive as well as extremely sexual or gruesome, can really be seen on both walls. One is left grappling with questions of meaning, morality and social connotations within images — questions faced everyday by image editors.