“I am nobody”, by Sylvia Plath, is about the loss of one’s name:
“I have given my name and my day‐clothes up to the nurses/ The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble/ They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps/ Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another/ So it is impossible to tell how many there are”
The internet is built up with information and images that users share. However the web is not the users’ property. In fact it is not even an actual place.
“WHAT IS THE USE OF A BOOK,” THOUGHT ALICE, “WITHOUT PICTURES OR CONVERSATION?”
The term “virtual” was coined in 1989 and since then has been misused as “illusion of reality”. “Enhanced reality” would be preferable, as technologies cannot substitute all our senses in order to create a complete illusion of reality.
Digital images are ‘enhanced’ images and most of them are indeed retouched. While a Polaroid is the actual original (and there is no negative), in digital photography a copied and pasted file is again another original and the question of unicity is not at stake.
Since 1839 it became possible in photography to retouch and affect the final print – /was capable of /<delete taking out people from of a family picture, for example – by editing, or treating light so that the skin would look smoother. Indeed photography has always been aware of its possibilities, and has never worked as a sheer analogue, a photocopier, for the world to reproduce itself.
Today we are so used to being tricked that we tend to forget that digital photography, and in particular retouching and deceiving, does not betray a supposed original analogy. Therefore the point at stake is not digital images today, but photography since its origin. The problem is what we ask images to do. This was the same problem Alice in Wonderland posed, when asking to read a book with images.
Today we live through lenses – contact lenses, glasses, camera lenses, video cameras, CCTV, fibers, satellites. The images collected return to us on screens, computer screens, touch screens, TV screens, videogames, mobiles, iPad, e-books, cinema. Now images are everywhere. Alice would be happy.