cave to cloud

Cave To Cloud The Empires of Images As cities are increasingly built as pixels and citizens profiled as data, what is the state of “images” made of networked pixels and data, and how does this phenomenon impact the way we record and perceive the world?

The mutation of the “image” is perhaps more profound than when it went from the permanence of mosaic walls to the mobility of paintings, or from industrial engraving to celluloid. One could argue that the mix of mobile and social media has irreversibly changed the meaning and value of the image. Image is no longer just pictorial, it is an environment and an ecology. It can be a passing snowflake or a virus of tsunamic proportions. This phenomenon didn’t exist as recently as four years ago. Image has both imploded and exploded. Overwhelmingly abundant, it is less valuable than ever before, but has nonetheless supplanted the power of traditional language systems and is changing culture in profound ways.

Rome is home to several iconic creations that inspire study of how the “explosion” of the image can be seen as a source of both its extinction and as evolution. My main subject will be the Colosseum. I propose to correlate these creations with their appearance in the media-sphere, addressing:

How our technologically “augmented” relationship with the physical world ends up shattering the monument’s “image” into an entangled nexus made of a million continually refreshed photos and other constructs. And how that affects our ability to perceive, relate and creatively interpret the subjects that we see.

How this nexus can be seen as a “realtime metabolic image” maintained by a million visitors, each bringing his or her own view point, view time and view technique. It is crucial to parse the interfaces that frame and even condition the individual views, and interesting to consider how the filtering of these pervasive clusters is promoting image away from aesthetics and toward a medium for socializing.

How our sensory engagement with places is being channeled in new ways. Can we still experience a creation as purely physical sensorium despite an over-familiarity with its image? After all, a monument is a discrete object that embodies the full story of its making.

the precisely symbiotic scales of the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Chapel Sistine
the precisely symbiotic scales of the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Chapel Sistine

The Colosseum is an obvious subject to explore this phenomenon. It has drifted through time disfigured and symbolically misappropriated; yet it still stands as the unchallenged icon for all that Rome stands for. Today, it is aggregated into more than 3.5 million images in Google alone. My secondary subjects, and personal favorites in Rome, Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam and the Pantheon will provide complementary conditions for “image interpretations”.