Week 1 – The Global Image

A busy week to get started with, a lot of information to take onboard and the Canvas site to explore. The coursework has been enjoyable and engaging. The first guest lecture by Tom Seymour was informative, looking forward to the future speakers. The two forum topics were a great way to meet the rest of the course members and to look at and comment on each other’s work.

Onto the theme of this week, which is the global image, going back through my notes and markup of the additional reading material, a few things stick in my mind and I found that my nagging dislike of stock photography was discussed in the further reading.

The blandness of stock photography and making everything vanilla, establishing the global family through visual representation. This had not clicked with me how it is slowly and pervasively altering our view of the world. Similar to the Family of Man exhibition that went on its great world tour. It was a carefully constructed view, beautifully curated but ignorant (or dismissive) to the true complexity of our global societies and all their tensions, inequalities and struggle.

The speed at which a local image can go viral and become a global item is fearsome, whatever provisional meaning associated with it can be quickly twisted into a new plot and fed to the sensation hungry populace; the consequences being equally unpredictable. In the same vein an image can transport us to the scene of an unfolding tragedy, hurricanes, earthquakes, air disasters, all accessible to scroll through.

A part of my practice has a global theme, although they are local images they examine a part of the global supply chain and how food is produced and its subsequent environmental impact. This is most apparent at the scene of production and the quality of the environment, but the sum of this production is harmful on a global scale. My images (I hope) form a tiny part of a much larger body of work created by many photographers and film makers documenting our continued erosion of the planet. And therein lies the conflict, to highlight the issues I am an active and willing participant in.

One quote caught my eye that sums up my learning and insights from the global image theme and is by the novelist Jonathan Franzen “We like the mirror and the mirror likes us”.


FRANZEN, Jonathan. 2011. ‘Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts’, 28 May [online]. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/opinion/29franzen.html [accessed 24 Sep 2020].

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