Wawa, Ont.

A few Super 8mm stills from my MFA thesis film, which screened at Ryerson’s first annual Doc/Now Festival. They depict the town of Wawa in Northern Ontario.

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Supplementary plates: The V.I. Fonds distribution project

Artist Statement

Supplementary plates: the V.I Fonds distribution project developed in response to the challenge of creating a system of categorization for an existing archive of one hundred digital images. On the surface, the photographic archive in question presented a baffling incoherence, despite a few obvious thematic strands linking small sets of images. Among the obvious categories were: aerial photographs of highway intersections, passport photos, images of Asian photographers in various comically distended poses, press photos of Stephen Harper, and action shots of figure skaters. There were other, seemingly related images, but it was often impossible to define a satisfying and convincing category that could contain them. For instance, while there appeared to be a number of architectural images depicting the interior spaces of museums and art galleries, there were disconnections between photographs of artwork in which the space itself was incidental; photos emphasizing the patterns of spectatorship in these spaces (and which, accordingly, feature crowds); and photographs of largely empty rooms (populated only by solitary security guards) that take as their subject the neglected corners and portals that help to define and organize the spaces. The archival images also varied widely in quality: there were fine-art photographs evidently shot on large-format film; various species of black-and-white historical images from the nineteenth century; low-resolution journalistic images apparently pulled from the Internet; and poorly-shot digital snapshots of uninteresting social situations. Taken as is, this archive was unsatisfying — it was thin, imbalanced and finite, riddled with non-sequiturs and incomplete series (surely the handful of highway intersections taken from Google Earth could not constitute an exhaustive typology). It was somehow soulless.

Steeped in the polemics of Jacques Derrida¹ and Pierre Nora², I perceived the destructive aspects of modern archivization at work, those aspects which deprive an archive’s contents of their original context; transform material photographs into degraded, insubstantial digital approximations; privilege multiplicity over individual specificity, and history over memory. Without knowledge of the images’ provenances and the archival motivations behind their co-mingling, I realized that by merely organizing them into batches, I could not hope to restore their meaning or significance. Thus, I set about trying to accomplish three things in an attempt to find some purpose for this sad, little archive: the restoration of materiality, context, and function to its constituent parts, at the expense of the whole.

To accomplish these, I had to liberate the materials from their archival raison d’être, which was their assembly by our professor, Vid Ingelevics. Against standard archival practice, I had to reject the integrity of his personal fonds, that unit of archival organization that classifies stored objects according to the person who originally brought them together. While the fonds can, in some circumstances, offer a biographical insight into the meaning of an archive, I found that this particular fonds, composed of such disparate and ephemeral images, advanced little claim to organic unity or to an indispensible psychological profile of a person. To give it meaning, I had to disperse this fonds, to scatter it to the winds.

In the initial stages of struggling with the categorization of images, I realized that while assigning numerous keywords to an image was easy, determining which keywords were most relevant to an image was difficult. In a digital database, an image can be assigned to any number of categories, each with equal weighting. However, it occurred to me that in a physical archive in which only one copy of an item exists, the item resides in only one place, and while it can be inscribed with any amount of data about its form, content, provenance, etc., its singular placement demands that an important decision about its primary subject must be made. If I restored materiality to the image, by printing it on lustrous photo paper, I would be forced (or, allowed) to assign it a definitive primary subject where its only physical incarnation could be located.

Having transformed the ephemeral pixels into matter, I could then adopt a well-known system of primary classification, such as the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress System, and assign each image a single place within it. This adoption of such a well-worn, nineteenth-century mode of classification should be perceived as a rather nostalgic gesture, one that yearns for a time before post-modernity, for the analogue, for the certitude that an object is what it appears to be — and can be found where it belongs.

Beyond allowing me to simplify my organizational endeavour, the use of a pre-existing system of classification creates the opportunity to restore a modicum of context and function to these images. This is because an active repository of systematically classified materials already exists, in which the images could find a useful home: the school library. I decided that it would be most appropriate to house the images in the institution of the library, which, unlike a traditional archive, actually strives for maximum accessibility — there is no conflicting imperative of physical preservation which attempts to limit access. (The archive, when silent, is still fulfilling its mandate of preservation, whereas a library without researchers is somehow a failure.) And the library is full of books on every subject, including the subjects I have identified in the photos of the Vid Ingelevics (V.I.) Fonds; thus, it stands to reason that, with a measure of playfulness, I might include these paper images as visual supplements to the contents of circulating books. As “supplementary image plates” inserted into library books, the images gain a new context and may serve either an illustrative or a critical function. Armed with a brief, dryly didactic (and truthful, if obvious) caption, and separated from their recipient book by a sealed coin envelope stating that they are on “temporary loan from the V.I. Fonds,” they are unlikely either to enlighten or to misinform; what some may accomplish is to problematize the relationship between an author’s text and its accompanying illustrations, causing the reader to think critically not just about the meaning of this quaint inclusion, but also about the published images that might already be in the book. When inserted into photo books, the V.I. Fonds images may also challenge the notion of authorship in (documentary) photography; more precisely, with their informative captions based only upon their primary subject classification, the images create a tension between subjective authorship and objective documentation in the photos in the recipient book.

Perhaps the most satisfying example of this is the insertion of a photograph of a service station into a book listed under the subject “service stations.” The book is entitled Twenty-six gasoline stations, and the V.I. Fonds contributed to it an image of a twenty-seventh gasoline station. By determining the photo’s primary subject to be “service stations,” and by placing it in a like-classified tome, the supplementary plate added to the library’s documentary imagery of gas stations; this placement occurred without concern for the fact that Twenty-six gasoline stations is also a deadpan artistic work by the photographer Edward Ruscha, or that it might be considered sacrilege to add an extra station as photographed by another celebrated artist, Stephen Shore. In all the image-book pairings, the images can absorb meaning and context from their recipient books, and in turn can produce varied, unpredictable effects through their juxtaposition with similarly categorized books. Thus, the V.I. Fonds images, dispersed into the active world of the library, are made capable of both giving and receiving, and are liberated from the cold dormancy of a strictly archival existence.

Summary of process

Supplementary plates is essentially a process-driven work, one that combines a highly iterative process of categorization with an element of ongoing performance: the intervention in a library to give a digital archive materiality, context, and function. For this reason, in the foregoing artist statement, it has been necessary to include some description of the ways in which process served to motivate me and shape my artistic goals. Here I summarize some specific issues that arose during the execution of the work, and examine the how their (attempted) resolutions affected the finished result.

One key trajectory in this project was my adoption, and then rejection, of the concept of the fonds as an archival organizing principle. Initially, I was attracted to the biographical intimacy of the fonds, with its way of foregrounding the individual responsible for a section of the archive, with the implication that it is a window into a life. In my blog, I noted: “The researcher, originally intrigued by an academic theme or subject, finds that he cannot help but ask of the fonds: whose life does this represent? Therein lies some of the mystery of an archive.” Thus, my initial attempts at resolving this project centered on answering this fundamental question — or, more accurately, on inventing its answer. At the time, I was prepared to “set aside … the possibility (likelihood?) that the ‘100 Images’ archive was compiled strictly for the purposes of this assignment.” I contemplated producing a narrative film or slide-slow in which a speaker would recount a fictional catastrophe that led to the existence of this odd archive, and then posit an unorthodox, possibly humorous, system of categorization in an attempt to re-construct the identity of the person who left this mysterious fonds behind. I also applied my filmmaking sensibilities to the project, wanting to invent an authoritative interpretation of this archive’s existence and to make alternative interpretations difficult or impossible. Admittedly, this approach was rather tongue-in-cheek. For instance, I noted that the film would invite “outside researchers to visit the archive and examine [its] materials, with the caveat that they must submit to all the kafka-esque access obstacles set forth by the institutional bureaucracy.” In stipulating this, it was my intention to give the V.I. Fonds a seemingly prisonlike air of impenetrability and authority, in keeping with Eric Ketelaar’s description of some archives.³ However, I grew unhappy with this approach — the whimsical fictionalization of genuine documentary material — and, aware that the truth behind this fonds’ existence was either unknowable or trivial, I decided to switch my emphasis away from the fonds towards producing the materialized, functional (but dispersed) archive described above. To be sure, the fonds concept did survive as a vestigial trace, in that each envelope noted that the image contained within was on temporary loan from the “V.I. Fonds.” Furthermore, in acknowledgement of the magnetic attraction that may indeed exist between materials from a single fonds, I also printed a loan due date and an email address for the “Fonds Administrator” on the envelopes, allowing for the remote possibility that the V.I. materials might one day return home.

As I decided on a library intervention strategy, various new issues emerged. I grappled with the correct method of assigning subjects to photos and then, photos to books. Generally speaking, my methodology came to involve deciding on a photo’s subject by a strictly visual examination (thus eliminating the influence of a photo’s digital filename, which sometimes provided information about the photo’s authorship), and then searching for this subject in the library catalogue and finding an appropriate book for placement. In practice, it was sometimes not possible to determine the correct, Library-recognized keyword in one attempt (for instance, the Library classifies the images of woodpiles as “fuelwood,” whereas I had initially searched for “firewood”), so I would try searching several keywords and then choosing the book that most closely suited the subject. During my project presentation, several colleagues questioned whether my system of classification by “primary subject” was biased, arbitrary or unsystematic. Indeed, in hindsight, it is clear that while some subjects are the most obvious ones for a given image (for instance, it is non-controversial to assert that “figure skating” is the primary subject for a photo of figure skaters), other assigned subjects are little more than Barthian puncta that I identified in the photos based on my own idiosyncratic tendencies and curiosities. To partially address this issue, I would sometimes split up series of related images between two subjects when it was unclear which subject was most appropriate: hence, the aerial photos of highways are divided into the library subjects “express highways” and “aerial photography.”

Alongside these archival-type concerns arose a number of problems dealing with the ethics of a whimsical intervention into a public space that is used by serious researchers who depend on the peer-reviewed authority of the materials contained therein. I was also concerned with the privacy and personality rights of the individuals depicted in the photographs, and at one point considered censoring them. Lastly, I was afraid that some images might be perceived as threatening if found, loosely inserted in a book, by an unsuspecting patron — for instance, the two photos depicting the horrible events of 9/11. Would these be wrongly construed as a threat or premonition? Overall, my fears about unpredictable reactions and institutional consequences led me to stipulate that the captions accompanying the photos be clear, truthful and politically/emotionally benign as a reassurance to all who would find them. Fear also led me to proceed surreptitiously, taking pains to remain anonymous; for this reason, I refrained from checking the recipient books out of the library, even though I had originally intended to scan their covers in colour to produce a visual counter-archive depicting the new contexts into which the scattered archival images were inserted.

Though it evolved considerably from an abstract concept to a material realization, the Supplementary plates project engaged with a number of issues central to archiving and, in my view, offers one of many valid strategies in resolving the problem of how to categorize and make meaningful a small, but diverse and mysterious photographic archive.

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¹ Derrida’s work, Archive Fever (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), is interpreted at length by Dragan Kujundzic in “Archigraphia: On the Future of Testimony and the Archive to Come”, Discourse 24 (Winter-Spring 2003) 166-188.

² Pierre Nora, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire”, Representations 26 (Spring, 1989) 7-25.

³ Eric Ketelaar, “The Panoptical Archive”, Archives, Documentation and Institutions of Social Memory (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 207) 144-50.

Thesis-related digression

This is a digression from the topic of archives, but I have a restless need to broadcast a change of heart I have experienced in the last few days concerning my thesis. For a long time, I have felt that my documentary thesis project represented a concession, in that I couldn’t think of an unusual, obscure corner of life to document, so I adopted a thoroughly familiar subject. Now, I am passionate about my subject, but again, acknowledge little likelihood of shedding any “new light” on it, at least in terms of facts and arguments. Because of this, I told myself that I should produce a unique formal response to the subject, one that was personal and idiosyncratic and that visually addressed ideas about nostalgia, landscape, emotional geography and local identity.

My project was to consist of two parallel elements: audio interviews and a sequence of video images (note, I am implying a certain detachment or disconnect between these two elements, which is why I don’t simply call it a film). Having begun production, I have found that while my audio interviews have been generally successful (and thus encouraging), my videography has been uniformly substandard and plagued by technical difficulties. Discouraging, especially when visual (not sonic) issues are what I want to emphasize in the dreaded written component: I would really prefer to write about some roles of landscape in Canadian film and photography. Although I have seen wondrous video work from some colleagues, in my own amateurish work I find that HD video is characterized by a kind of banal indexicality, with little or none of the magic I associate with cinema. Now, if I had a living human or animal subject whose vitality could be depicted on screen (as in my short film Horse Patrol), any problems with the particular aesthetics of video would seem trivial. But in my work I am emphasizing absence, solitude, empty spaces, and applying a somewhat photographic approach to the depiction of loss; the problem is that while, in my mind, I have vivid, contemplative 4×5 film images, on my video viewfinder I have nothing but trite “b-roll.”  

For my project, the desired cine-photographic “magic” I am seeking is a sense of history/pastness. While it may be possible to produce this using expensive lenses, filters and post-production gimmickry, this misses the point, and I can neither afford the time or money to investigate such things. In this context, my recent epiphany has been to shoot the lion’s share of the project on Super-8. I do not feel this will go over well with my advisors, for a variety of reasons (technical, economic, etc.). But it perhaps would confer on the work the feelings of pastness and longing which elevate a lot of Canadian landscape film, but which are lacking from a lot of contemporary video art. Some of the sites I plan to shoot are non-descript modern apartments and anonymous middle-class houses, but maybe in Super-8 I can transport them somewhere, make them a bit mysterious, sad, innocent.

Or perhaps I am being too messianic about a mere medium (and a humble, low-res, audience-limiting one at that). I am not implying that expertise would come without hard work, or that “lyricism” or “poetry” would gush forth from an otherwise dry well. And I am certainly not looking for an easy way out (quite the contrary; I would like the extra discipline of having to shoot economically with little more than a 2:1 ratio). Furthermore, I do find something intimidating and possibly foolhardy about taking pains to procure access to sites only to shoot 3 minutes of footage with a 1970s home-movie camera. But when one of my profs admonished me in the winter to learn how to “play,” I realized that play is sadly lacking in me, with the result that I tend to produce work laden with conservative cliches and a stifling seriousness. Is this enough justification to think about a shift in medium? Could it assist an emancipation of repressed creativity? Of course, I wouldn’t consider such a route without a good deal of research, familiarization, and experimentation. But I think it might be right for me.

DM8305 – Databases and Archives

I am re-purposing my New Media class blog for the course “Databases, Archives and the Virtual Experience of Art,” taught by Vid Ingelevics. I think I will keep the old content up on the main page because it contains some rudimentary explorations of databases and their uses, and is therefore somewhat relevant to the present course. Going forward, this site will feature, among other things, an ongoing discussion of the “100 Images” archival project. Stay tuned for more.

21 Tags: a reflection on the group project

In this entry, I will reflect on our group production project, “21 tags:the Documentary New Media Tag Hunt,” summarizing what the project achieved, how it could be improved, and how its approach (and new media more generally) might inform my own documentary practice going forward. As a web-based work, it can be viewed at mfataghunt.blogspot.com (best viewed with Firefox), and the previous two entries on this blog serve to provide some sense of the project’s evolution from conception through to completion.

Initially, we intended to make a distributed photo-documentary in real time on Toronto Island, focusing on a specific event – the 2008 Cycle Messenger World Championships. As the project evolved, we discovered that there was a considerable logistical problem facing our original plan; namely, that wireless internet access is only available within a relatively small radius of the Island marina, and that this connection is frustratingly slow. We thus opted to abandon the real-time-uploading aspect of the project, and, accordingly, to put less emphasis on the time-sensitive sporting event at the project’s core. In its place, we decided to shift our focus towards producing a more general, poly-thematic documentary about our collective understanding of a shared geographical space. At the same time, we also developed an interest in interrogating the value of tags as semantic/thematic categories, and decided that it would be interesting to collectively create a list of 21 tags in advance of the photo shoot, constituting the parameters for the documentary while allowing the participants the freedom to interpret and discover these tags according to their own personal tendencies and curiosities as documentarians. We hoped that the result would be a number of interlinked web-pages displaying separate photographic slideshows for each of the tags, with each slideshow creating a kind of collaboratively-authored typology reflecting, on the one hand, our interpretive differences as artists, and, on the other, our collective knowledge of a place.

Alex raised the important point that the photos taken during this tag-based “scavenger hunt” could descend rather easily into total incoherence; photographs, pregnant with so many potential readings, naturally have an interpretive openness, and we did not want the finished product to become a meaningless jumble. We decided to address this by requiring each photographer to write a short caption about each of their tagged photographs, and then severing this text from the photos and randomly juxtaposing the captions with any like-tagged images in the slideshow. Our goal was to ascertain whether images and text by different authors can display correspondences reflecting their shared senses of dwelling within a certain space. We had hoped that certain captions would have coherent (and yet variable) relationships with multiple images, and that said relationships would occupy a continuum ranging from the purely literal/expository, to the more ironic, metaphorical, or poetic. Thankfully, our experiment was largely successful, in that many of the tagged slideshows do work as convincing typologies, and the image-text relationships are often rich testaments to the coherence and even power of collaborative, distributed documentation. That said, some of the captions are too specific to their author’s own vision, and become incoherent when juxtaposed with any other images; perhaps we should have set clearer parameters for the captioning component to avoid this.

Before we set out on our photo shoot, it was difficult to know whether the project stood any chance of achieving a coherent sense of dwelling in the space of the Island. However, immediately upon returning from the Island with our photos and captions, we were much more confident about the project’s soundness; while each individual photo presented in some ways the visual hallmarks of its author, the combined result (especially when mapped in Flickr or Google Maps) was a kaleidoscopic or cubistic view of place, a kind of psychogeography of Toronto Island (though I confess I have little formal knowledge about Debord’s concept and, for fear of misunderstanding it, will not elaborate on it more fully here).

One thing I learned from this project is the value, modularity, and flexibility of freely-available, open-source web tools and interfaces. Lacking much programming ability, our group was entirely dependent on such platforms to display and organize our content. We stored, organized, keyworded, and geo-tagged our content in Flickr’s database, and displayed it in slideshows using a Flickr add-on called Pictobrowser, whose code we embedded into 21 separate Blogger blogs. We were afraid the result would look too jerry-built and/or pre-fabricated (and indeed, compared to a custom-made web interface, it certainly did!), but with a little inquisitiveness, we were able to tweak our embeddable code to make the finished product fit our desired form and style.

If we could do the project again, I would make several changes. First, I would have a stronger idea of the finished interface in advance of the media collection, to allow me to design the collection parameters more carefully. For instance, had I developed the interface in advance, I would have realized that the presence of vertical photographs requires one to increase the dimensions of the Pictobroswer slideshow, causing the captions to be hidden from view; in turn, I would have known to insist that all photographs must conform to a horizontal aspect ratio. I would have also kept the captions in text form (rather than converting them into stylized JPGs in photoshop), so that, according to Alex, we preserved their value as searchable, feed-able “data” that could be manipulated, filtered, and reorganized with powerful programs like Yahoo’s “Pipes” (we did experiment with Pipes as a means of randomizing the orders of images, but found some of its inner workings confusing). Lastly, I think this project’s strength lies in its ability to present a documentary portrait of a place from many vantage points, in the tradition of projects like [mumur] (discussed in a previous blog entry). In my opinion, the project’s effectiveness would thus be greatly magnified if it were a larger collective enterprise, one which presented the perspectives of dozens or even hundreds of participants as opposed to merely seven. But the possibilities for expansion remain…

During the New Media course, I was introduced to several ways of using the virtual and physical facets of computing to create new kinds of experiences, many of which appear to have a great relevance to documentary. I was surprised to find that working on a distributed documentary with a group was remarkably liberating; as predicted in the article on urban sensing, I found myself taking pride in the collaborative nature of the initiative, not just the limited products of my own lens. Authorship, carrying with it connotations of ownership, competition, and heroic “auteur” mythology, was minimized, and in its place, emerged a work whose strength lay in its multiplicity of voices. Also, lacking a single “director”, distributed documentary entails a whole different approach to methodology than is found in established doc media such as film and photography. Another thing I learned in new media was the importance of thoroughly considering and testing out presentation space (whether virtual or physical) before displaying art work, both documentary and otherwise. Although I am still very new to the traditional image arts and have much to learn about them before I can fully understand and harness the potential of new media approaches, this course has opened my eyes to new ways of producing, presenting, and promoting documentary content. Going forward, I know I will find both a challenge and an opportunity in exploring the greater palette of possibilities that lie beyond the boundaries of traditional media.

Above: A bit of documentation from our photo shoot on the Island. The air-mail envelopes (sealed with wax!) each contain a list of the tags to be photographed, and a map of the Island to facilitate geo-tagging (though portable GPS units would have been preferable). The notebooks are for writing the accompanying captions.

Above: a rejected title bar for the website. Notice the ghostly nude figure, seemingly unafraid of an approaching storm.

Revised project summary and updates

We are still compiling a list of tags that we will each find and photograph on Toronto Island: everyone is to submit three tags on the blog by today, so that we will have a total of 21 tags for Sunday. I think that the ideal tag is open to various interpretations, but likely also to refer to something concrete on or near the Island. For instance, “Lighthouse” or “CN Tower” are too narrow and specific, but “Tower,” though not vague, could refer to any tall structure visible from the Island and would thus be a good tag.

The new aspect to the process is that we must all write a short caption to accompany each photograph we take; this text can be personal and emotional, or dryly historical-expository, or can incorporate any other style you like – treat the text as your own personal interpretation of the site you are choosing to photograph, according to your sincere estimation of that site’s significance to you, or to the broader public. The result will be that each person has 21 tagged photos and 21 similarly tagged captions. Thus, if “water” was a tag, then the group would produce seven photographs of “water” and seven captions about “water” in the context of Toronto Island.

We are going to build a web platform that uses a database to randomly pair like-tagged photographs and captions. Thus, the interface will display a series of photographs and accompanying captions, in which it is not entirely clear to the viewer whether the text and image are the work of the same author. In some instances, we expect participants to document the tags similarly, reflecting a shared, collective view of one aspect of the Island (in these instances, it would be most difficult to viewers to discern the authorship of images and accompanying texts, and, one might argue that in such situations, individual authorship is not as relevant as shared knowledge and documentary strategies). However, for other tags, participants will be wildly divergent in their documentary concerns/approaches, and this will be evident when like-tagged photos and captions seem to bear little or no relationship to each other. In each case, the viewer will be challenged to assess relationships between image and text.

It seems that, given our technical limitations in the domain of programming and web design, we should use a freely available interface such as a wordpress blog. Graham has raised a number of design issues, and has asserted that a blog-type of interface may not be the best platform for the project. I believe that a radically simple interface, that foregrounds the core concept of a photographic narrative captioned with texts that float mysteriously between various degrees of relevance, is the best solution. We plan to meet with Alex in the next day to work out a final form for the interface.

We hope to produce a documentary portrait of a geographical space reflecting the different perspectives of our seven participants, and one that posits that a certain collective understanding of a space can be demonstrated through a work with a distributed, collaborative authorship. In the process, we also plan to interrogate the perceived correspondences between image and text.

Update #1:

For several hours, Graham and I experimented with some Flickr add-on widgets that allow you to embed and visualize Flickr content in various ways. In my explorations I found a nice, customizable slideshow tool called Pictobroswer; you can fiddle with the html code a bit to get a fairly clean looking effect. The top Pictobrowser window could be fed with the tagged images from a Flickr set, and then we could turn the captions into JPGs in photoshop (say, in white text against a black background), and then feed them into a second embedded Pictobrowser below. Thus, we can cycle through the like-tagged image-text combos for an effect similar to the one agreed upon. One issue that arises is that WordPress will not allow this kind of embedded code; thankfully, Blogger will.

Update#2:

We’re still struggling with developing a suitable interface for our new media project. Alex Bal recommended a service called Yahoo Pipes that allows you to manipulate/filter/visualize streams of data such as RSS feeds from Flickr. It is possible to embed the pipes’ output into blogs such as wordpress and blogger. But as of yet, I don’t think Pipes allow you to randomize the data; if this is indeed the case, I still think Pictobrowser is more aesthetically flexible and elegant.

I have experimented with both platforms here (this is just a sandbox for developing forms – the content is just dummy text and images): mfataghunt.blogspot.com

New Media Group Project

For our new media group project, we have decided to undertake a distributed, photo-based, online documentary on Toronto Island. We will collect and upload our media (via WI-FI) on Sunday, June 15th, coinciding with the final race in the Cycle Messenger World Championships, to be held on the Island.

Our documentary process will resemble in some ways a “scavenger hunt,” in which each of the project’s seven participants will be assigned a list of “tags” to find and photograph. Each team member will submit a shortlist of tags, and from that list, the final list will be chosen randomly upon arrival at the island, to avoid premeditated photographic strategies and encourage discovery (and interpretation) of the tags within the Island space. Once at the site, each team member will be able to interpret and photograph the tag-words as she or he sees fit, and the photographs will be uploaded in real-time to a social-media site (such as Flickr), such that each “tag” will be displayed as a series/grid of images. Thus, we are taking an unconventional approach to tagging, in that the tags precede the images, and the result should be a kind of typology assembled by several authors, possibly interspersed with seeming non-sequiturs/double-entendres/etc, reflecting the group members’ varying semantic interpretations of the tag words. We would also like to map the images geographically (perhaps using Google Maps – let’s ask Alex) to chart the various trajectories of the group members throughout the site and build an idiosyncratic picture of the site according to the tagging parameters.

We are going to scout the Island and test its WI-FI access tomorrow. (Mark Tollefson is helping us with this). The ferry to Hanlan’s Point leaves at 1 pm; thus, it would be best if group members arrive at the Ferry Docks by about 12:45. Please note: I have a dentist’s appointment in Scarborough tomorrow and may be late in arriving at the Island, but I will call another member to let you know when I will be arriving.

We still have several things to work out in advance. First and foremost is the web interface and uploading procedures – will we use a blog/Google Maps/Flickr/etc, and will we permit photoshopping and/or some kind of assemblage of the like-tagged photos into single, grid-patterned images? – let’s determine this with Alex’s help. Speaking of which, let’s try to meet Alex ASAP, to get her advice and approval. We will decide on a time tomorrow, and then assign someone to write to her.

That is all for now, but please: keep in mind that this is my understanding of the group project as discussed earlier after today’s class, and if I have not articulated something correctly, or if you disagree or have something to add (practical or theoretical), please feel free to post your thoughts on the group blog.

(Posted also on docnewmedia.wordpress.com).