Digital Truths Lecture – Matt Johnston

On Friday 1st February 2013, we had an afternoon session that lasted two hours. Within this session we had an hour long lecture about the “Digital Truths” that was given by Matt Johnston, then a 30 minute break where we had a skills instruction tutorial on how to use the Edirol R09 Recorders, before heading back for a workshop task that related to the lecture. All of my notes, including the task, are shown below:


In Our Own Image – The Pixelated Press by Fred Ritchin

  • Out of date
  • Scitex machine
  • Revolutionary
  • Why do we care?
    • Why do we care about these other people?
    • Historical
    • Need to understand the transition
    • We are practitioners
    • We are working in and with this new age
  • This was the first time people started to question the authenticity of the image
  • We can no longer trust the image – at least we trust it in a different way

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

  • Moral Philosophy
  • Based on a standard of rationality
  • Consequentialist – locates the morality in the consequences of an act
  • Categorical – locates morality in certain duties and rights
  • How does this relate to photography?
    • Painting – Photography
    • The camera never lies – the photographer can lie

Can we all be objective and impartial?

As photographers we have the power of authentication

Digital Truth:

  • Merz Picture 32 A. The Cherry PictureKurt Schwitters 1921
  • ABCDRaoul Hausmann c. 1920
  • Newry Gagarin #7Sean Hillen 1982
  • “When you cut up a photo you take a new world with you”Sean Hillen
  • The ExecutionersSean Hillen 1989
  • This is a fictitious image – it is not real but can be used to represent current events
  • Industrial Photomontages
    • Clear lines and borders of images
    • The medium used is clear to see
    • Physical presence, and evidence of the ‘mechanic
  • Digital photomontages
    • Breakdown of borders – question validity
    • The medium is information
    • The ‘mechanic’ becomes the manipulator’ – Cut and stick – cut and paste
  • Kennard Phillips
    • A collaboration working since 2002 to produce art in response to the invasion of Iraq”
    • Untitled – 2011
    • We can’t undo what we have seen
    • This is a real image but it is not a real event
    • What is being represented didn’t happen

Blair in Iraq, 2006Peter Kennard

Context is key

LANCOME advert with Julia Roberts was banned

  • Now, Aura is our science
  • Why did we draw the line here?
    • It is the fact that they are trying to say that it is real rather than the obvious fictional
  • “The Liberal Democrat MP said it was important for adverts to reflect reality to help the self-esteem of everyday women
  • Not even the Advertising Agency aren’t allowed to see the raw image, without the use of Photoshop

Context is King

  • Holger Merlitz
  • Nathan Pearce
    • Work in progress
    • Hundreds of images
    • Depending of what you are shown, you may have a different opinion on the work and their personality
  • A book contains all the context that you need
  • Edward Hopper – Morning Sun
    • Iggy kasser
    • Irina Markovits
    • Searched for it on Google and found so many different representations
    • They are shockingly different, even on legitimate art websites
    • If you want to see Edward Hopper’s Morning Sun, you actually have to go and see Edward Hopper’s Morning Sun
  • What is a true representation?


  • Camera phones
  • We want to hear from the person that is there
  • We want to hear from you!” – Radio’s and television
  • We begin to trust these sorts of images
  • Believable because of the bad footage – e.g. Paranormal Activity
  • An ‘anti-advert’
  • It is gritty and seems real and therefore more believable
  • Alison Jackson – spoof and parodies on YouTube

Fred Ritchin

  • Not enough to add photographs to the world but need to add the world to the photographs
  • Digital photography has little to do with photography – like calling the automobile a none horse carriage at the beginning, it now has horse power although there is nothing to do with horses
  • We have ruined the photographic credibility
  • Just give the camera’s to the people and they will tell you what’s happening
  • The role of the photographer is changing
  • How are we taking things out of context for our viewers?
    • Set up links to the photographers website and collections


  • Media Loan Shop – Audio recorders – Edirol R09
  • Case
    • Main recorder
    • Plug
    • Comes with SD card
    • USB plug
    • Headphones
    • XLR cable – plugs into external microphone
    • External Microphone
    • Microphone clip – screws microphone onto tripod or microphone stand
    • May have a remote
    • S-Stand for the Edirol
  • Whenever possible, plug them in
  • Power button (right-hand side)
  • Menu
    • Recorder setup – (record button = select) – sample rate keep at 44.1kHz – Recorder mode (e.g. WAV 24bit)
    • Best quality want to use WAV – think WAV as tiff and MP3 as JPEG
    • Press menu to return
    • SD card – information and format – format – are you sure – yes
  • Main page
    • Red record button once – starts flashing – not recording but picking up data
    • 00:00:00 (Counter) – how long we’ve been recording
    • R ??:??:?? – How long you can have to record
  • Go back and set it to MP3 320
  • Start recording – press record button again – solid red light = recording
  • Stop recording – press stop
  • File has been created
  • Make a log of what the file is an audio of
  • Finder
    • Like finder on mac’s
    • Can see all of your files so far
  • Headphones
    • Blocks out a fair bit of noise
    • Press record button once to hear
  • Levels
    • Should be between 12 and 6 – peaking between there
    • Input level + and – (little bit like ISO)
    • Not to be confused with Volume on right hand side
    • Mic Gain should be on High
  • Edirol below their mouth – make them sound deeper
  • Microphone is more directional
    • Better for interviews
    • Change input levels again
    • Take rings off if you are holding the mic
    • Hold it steady or put it on a tripod
    • Soft things are good as they absorb sound – put duvet near door
  • Edirol – Omni-directional
    • Put it on the table
  • Taking the files off
    • Power off
    • Flap at bottom to reveal SD card
  • SD Card
    • Check the lock button on side of card if you cannot record
  • Checking the audio’s
    • Headphones
    • On computer
  • Can go for R05 or one that isn’t in the case
  • Paul Atkins – Audio Guru
  • For an interview that is sitting down, should the interviewee hold the microphone?
    • Matt Johnston – “No one should hold the microphone, I would get out a microphone stand, but keep checking your levels


In our “Cameraless Photography” lecture with Caroline Molloy, we looked at photographers, Doug Rickard and Mishka Henner. (

 This next task will be influenced by their work as we are using Google Street View to create “cameraless” photography.


You will be ‘sent’ to a place you have never before visited and be given a theme to explore. You should (through research) choose how you might be best represented and approach your theme or message in the production of a series of 10 images sourced through Google Earth and/or Google Street View.

Your workshop outcomes, along with a short (<300 word) review, should be evidenced on your blog.

Livermore, CA – Suburbia

Livermore, CA

    • “Founded in 1869, Livermore is California’s oldest wine region, framed by award-winning wineries, farm lands and ranches that mirror the valley’s western heritage. The City of Livermore (pop. 80,968) encompasses 26.44 square miles and is the easternmost city in the San Francisco Bay Area; the gateway to the Central Valley. Protection by the coastal range provides the Livermore Valley with a mild climate that enhances the pursuit of a more relaxed, less congested lifestyle.
    • As home to renowned science and technology centres, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory, Livermore is a technological hub and an academically engaged community. It has become an integral part of the Bay Area, successfully competing in the global market powered by its wealth of research, technology and innovation.
    • Livermore’s arts, culture, western heritage and vibrant wine industry provide a unique blend to this special community. Historic Downtown Livermore is enjoying a renaissance reestablishing the downtown as the city’s preeminent shopping, dining, entertainment and cultural district with a 10-screen cinema and a 500-seat performing arts centre. With the addition of several residential projects and a pedestrian-oriented environment, the City is establishing an active urban living experience in the Valley.
    • All City offices share a vision of excellence grounded in superb customer service. We have streamlined our processes, policies and even our City Hall to make life easier for busy people to do business. We are also dedicated to providing you with a website that helps you find information, answer questions and conduct business, simply.”
  • Suburbia
    • The suburbs or their inhabitants viewed collectively” – Google Dictionary
  • Bill Owen’s
    • Suburbia

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 1 - Holly Constantine

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 2 - Holly Constantine

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 3 - Holly Constantine

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 4 - Holly Constantine

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 5 - Holly Constantine

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 6 - Holly Constantine

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 7 - Holly Constantine

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 8 - Holly Constantine

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 9 - Holly Constantine

Livermore, CA Screen Shot 10 - Holly Constantine

Short Critical Reflection: For this task, we were persuaded to do some background research on our specific place and theme. Half of the group started creating photographs straight away, but I was in the other half that decided it would be a good idea to find out information on the location in order to influence the photographs that I create. After finishing this small background research, I actually found that I was more influenced by the theme rather than historical information that I may have learnt. I think this is simply due to the fact that the theme was a more ‘visual’ statement and it was easier to understand and find when looking at the Google Street View. We were also asked whether we thought it was ‘right’ and acceptable to represent this town (which we have never been to before) through the photographs that we found aesthetically pleasing and that we had merely spotted on line. So what’s my opinion? Yes, I do think it is acceptable. But only if we, as a photographer/creator, distinguish the fact that it is indeed our own, personal representation and determine how much information was actually used to inspire these creations. I feel that as long as this information is made clear to the viewer (much like the case of letting the viewer know whether the photographs are in fact photo-collages within the media – according to Fred Ritchin) then we should not be seen as a judgmental outsider, but simply an inspiring photographer that is attempting to portray their unique view on the world around them.