The Eastman Kodak company was founded in 1888, rising to become the pre-eminent photographic company in the world in the 20th century. In 2012, it filed for bankruptcy protection, having been too slow to see and respond to competition from other companies such as Fuji and from digital technology. Today, it is a much smaller company, describing itself as a ‘technology company focused on imaging’.
How does the traditional role of photography in documenting places, people, special events, catastrophes and celebrations adapt to the fast-moving changes of the digital 21st century with its tablets, digital cameras, mobile phones and where the selfie is king, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, where one image can be transmitted around the world in a matter of seconds, possibly having been manipulated, changed and altered, so that you may never know what is fake or true in this world of ‘fake news’ and where ‘the Cloud’ has become a huge depository of private and personal images – but with what security?
The Photographers’ Gallery breaks new ground in the exhibition ‘All I know is What’s on the Internet. While other floors in the Gallery have exhibitions of work by Russian-born Roman Vishniac and Vasantha Yogananthan from France based on more traditional photographic prints, eleven contemporary artists and groups here explore the question of photography, imagery and documentation today, not just in terms of technology but also in terms of how it interacts with knowledge, society and culture. A fascinating exhibition which provides lots of ideas, while inevitably leaving many questions unanswered.