IMAGE MAY CONTAIN

Lenticular Printings, 2019

In 2016, Facebook launched a unique accessibility tool designed for the blind and sight impaired. The aim was to enable these populations to experience the images shared by friends on social media. The starting point of the series of photographs “image may contain” is a Facebook image-recognition algorithm. The software engineers that designed AAT (Automatic Alternative Text) decided to use an AI algorithm to identify various objects in images, providing verbal descriptions for the sight impaired. This technology was supposed to open the door for this group to the wealth of visual information to be found on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The only problem is that the system is not capable of discerning that photographs provide far more than the mere sum of their discrete parts.


However, in this series Zalmanson takes historical photographs and allows AAT to translate them. The system does what it was designed to do, producing sparse textual descriptions of their content.


Thus, the image of President John F. Kennedy driving through the streets of Dallas in a Lincoln Continental just moments before he was assassinated, translated verbally to: “Ten people, car.” The photographed evidence burned into global collective memory becomes a flat itemized list – and Zalmanson uses that description to search for Facebook images similarly labeled. The eclectic database gathered this way joins the original photograph using a lenticular print, enabling the artist to present an array of images, each seen from a different angle. The algorithm flattens them, dismantling them from their canonical status, transposing them with ordinary, everyday, marketing materials. The lenticular prints encourage viewers to keep moving, ever more flooded with an amalgamation of images, indifferent to the hierarchy usually applied to them, refusing to be seen in their entirety.

(Curatorial Text: Ran Kasmy Ilan)

 

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