Estelle Blaschke: The Datafication of Images
within the Lecture Series "Digital Materialities. Digital Practices and the Photographic Archive"
As a mass medium, photography is omnipresent and has been woven into the fabric of everyday life and work. Beyond the practices of commercial image banks, the unprecedented photographic production has become a much sought-after digital content for information technology companies, which develop and train new search mechanisms for concrete applications, or others yet to be imagined. The photo camera has turned into a tool for recording visual and all sorts of technical data and in combination with smart phones and Internet platforms, digital photographs are increasingly understood as programmable or networked images and treated as a resource – an image capital – that can be mined for a variety of purposes. The talk addresses the history of enriching photographs with machine-readable data and code that were developed along the twentieth century and retraces the emergence of electronic data management in handling large photographic collections. It discusses the characteristics of photography that facilitated the datafication of images and asks how the hybridization of image and data affects their status and material integrity.
Estelle Blaschke (M.A., Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Ph.D., EHESS/Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Université de Lausanne and a visiting lecturer at the Université de Genève. From 2009 to 2011 and in 2014 she was a fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She is the author of the book Banking on Images: The Bettmann Archive and Corbis (Spector Books, 2016) and a member of the editorial board of the scientific journal Transbordeur. Photographie, Histoire, Société. Her current research concerns the history of microfilm and concepts of photography as information technology.