this past decade our theme at ZoneZero has been "from analog
No work that we have brought to our pages during this period could
better epitomize this idea, than the work of Ken Merfeld. His wonderful
imagery made on glass plates, through the process of wet collodion
which in the end would migrate to the digital domain, would therefore
allow us to bring you his work over the internet. No other photographer
that we have published would span such a spread in technologies
while still remaining true to his own style.
We hope to bring a degree of clarity through Ken
Merfeld's work, to an issue that all too often has been a source
of total confusion, in that digital photography is not a specific
style of photography but only a technology with which you can produce
any style that you wish. In this particular case it has been from
wet collodion to digital portraits.
To my dismay I have seen contests sponsored by some of the better
known photographic brands which requested images for categories
such as "digital photography", as if they were a specific
style of photography, thus only creating the present confusion.
Some have imagined then that digital photography has to do solely
with images that use every filter in the tool chest to produce a
sort of "lava lamp" effect, in order to become digital.
Well, if you enjoy doing those kind of images, fine, but know that
this is only one of the many styles that can be produced digitally.
In fact, any style can be produced by digital means.
During the first years of Zone-Zero's
existence, we had to struggle to convince our photographer
colleagues to trust us, that nothing terrible would happen to their
work if we published it over the internet.
Fortunately we can say that it all went well and we all benefited
from this experience in a positive way. We certainly thank all the
photographers who gave us their valuable work, without their contribution
this site would not be possible.
Digital technologies certainly have evolved during this decade,
both at the level of software and hardware. What we can do over
the internet today, only a few years ago was only a dream. The quality
and speed of cameras has improved so much and so fast, that we tend
to forget what it was only yesterday. When things change so fast,
it is hard to have a sense of history of where we were just a few
I would venture to say that over this coming decade, one of the
big transformations for the photographic image is going to be the
addition of sound. As photographers become more familiar with sound
and the tools become more effortless to use, the presence of sound,
either voice or music, or both, is going to become an ever more
integral part of the image. Also the delivery mechanisms are easier
with each passing day, so that it will become a much smoother structure
to deal with.
As I was leaving Madrid this past summer, one of the students from
my work shop, did something quite astonishing, at least to my eyes.
She handed me a CD ROM, and told me, "I did not know what to
give you as a good-by present, so I just went to my computer and
copied you all my pictures I had there". I took the CD ROM
with me, and opened it later on the plane going home, and found
the most compelling array of imagery, there were pictures of babies
being cleaned of their poop, or being bathed, or fed, or crying,
picnics with friends, dancing in nightclubs, trips, close ups of
objects, landscapes, portraits, snapshots, in short, all the most
tender imagery one would find in any family album, even a lot of
small videos. What she had given me, was for practical purposes,
a copy of her family album. Something that no one could have done
before. After all our family albums have always been unique pieces
that were not even possible to reproduce to share among siblings,
let alone with strangers. Begoña had created something that
was in my experience quite unique, she had literally reproduced
her personal family album, and decided to share it as a gesture
of her good will.
The coming decade, is obviously going to bring us untold new possibilities
both in creating the images as well as in sharing them, I am sure
that the excitement is only going to increase as the technologies
become both more accessible and flexible. Still one thing will remain
constant, the stories being told will be the same ones that have
captivated our imagination over the ages, there will be stories
of love, of passions, wars, fears, joy, sorrow, aging, mortality,
birth, health, pain, in short all that makes us human. The stories
are the same, only that they will be re told in different new ways.
Coyoacan, August, 2003
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