I found the feed back I received after presenting my project in class extremely helpful in terms of crystallizing my ideas on the arguments I want to make with my URT mapping project. In particular Professor Mattern pointed me in the direction of this link http://bogost.com/writing/seeing_things_1.shtml?unmobile.
Ian Bogost is a polymath who describes himself as “a designer, philosopher, critic, and researcher who focuses on computational media — videogames in particular. I’m also an author and an entrepreneur”. He took part in the Third Object-Oriented Ontology Symposium held here at the New School and delivered his talk remotely using a video which you can see here: Seeing Things. The video is beautiful, elegiac and thought provoking and I urge you to watch it and read the text for yourselves.
The lecture was a meditation on the work of street photographer Garry Winograd and his well-known aphorism: “I photograph the world to see what the world looks like in photographs.” Bogost draws a parallel with the website dearphotograph.com (http://dearphotograph.com/) which has received a lot of press coverage recently. The idea of the site is a simple but powerful one – you take an original photograph from the past, orient it in exactly same location as it was originally taken and then rephotograph it. The new photograph is then posted on line with a short “letter” addressed “Dear Photograph…” As Bogost says: “A Dear Photograph is photographed to see what a photograph looks like in a photograph.”
Bogost encourages us to see these photographs not as social commentary or nostalgic memorials to loss but as artifacts, that is, as things. The aim he concludes is, “To see the world of things as things in a world, rather than our world, with things in it”.
Class members with whom I studied in Professor Mattern’s course Media and Materiality last year may recall my desire that the form in which an argument is couched should itself be part of that argument. Adopting a technique similar to Dear Photograph will enable me to achieve my goal. By taking historic photographs and reorienting them in the present I will be able to not only show how the built environment has changed over time but also let the viewer see the archival photographs for what they are, entities in and of themselves.