Week 1: The Global Image

June 8, 2019.

In this first week, The Global Image, I have been challenged to articulate a singular definition of “The Global Image”.   My initial thoughts about the definition of the Global Image, prior to watching the lectures and reading the resources, include the following: a) The literal image of the globe; b) the universal (global)  understanding of the concept of “image”; c) The universal experience of creating an image and d) the universal understanding of the subject or types of images recorded.  My concern regarding my difficulty in wrapping my head around a singular definition of “The Global Image” is somewhat assuaged as Bate, (2019), states that globalization and it’s relation to photography is an “underdeveloped and neglected issue” (p. 189).

My thoughts have been somewhat more developed over the past week of consideration.  I am thinking about “The Global Image” in terms of Bates (2019) concept regarding the “globalization of the photographic representation” p 191.  The photographic representation- as in the ability to take pictures- has increased rapidly with the brilliant addition of the camera to the cell phone, and dissemination of these photos online is pretty easy and fast if a person has access to the internet. So what is the product of the increasingly ubiquitous photographic image? 

Amy Eilertsen. Family: Lisbon, Portugal. April 2019.

A theme running through Bate (2019) “Global Photography” was criticism of “humanist” photography, such as the contents of Steichen’s exhibit The Family of Man, or image collections, such as Getty.  Bate states that the “global leads to banality and ignorance of local issues” (2019).  Examples include images of which typify and are symbolic of concepts which are universally accepted as the human experience—families holding hands or taking selfies.  I was surprised at the lack of exploration of this phenomenon. I believe that the rapidity of communication of photograph images has outstripped human capability for interpretation and acceptance of culturally specific images. Like Emily Post’s “Etiquette for a Modern World” (Post, 2019) the globally communicated photograph, such as what is found in online image banks, is frequently one which expresses universal proprieties and conventional requirements of social behavior.  My thought is that the global image, in order to be universally appreciated, must be of a subject that is universally relatable.  The common acts of being human, such as enjoying pets or beautiful scenery are generally universally relatable.  Photographs which contain material not which is not readily relatable, or challenges assumptions, can create a psychological discomfort for the viewer.  The rapid and ubiquitous sharing of photographs, particularly in public venues such as social media do not easily allow exploration of the viewer’s reactions.  

Bate, D., 2016. Photography: the key concepts. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 189-210.

Post, E., 1934. Etiquette:” The Blue Book of Social Usage”. Prabhat Prakashan.