Photo on TV

Above: A flat-screen TV for sale in a shop with a selection of art-photographs from Artcast playing out as a demo. Credit: Oscopic.

Cheese on TV

One of the most unfortunate uses of the photo-image in the Digital Age is the display of photos that have been licensed as cheese-on-TV. Cheesy photo-images (ODE: the quality of being too obviously sentimental) pop up in many places, just like crap music plays out in lifts, lobbies, and supermarkets. The laptop screensaver (or desktop-picture) is one annoying place where such images proliferate (on Windows 10 it is very hard to turn these off). Another is the National Geographic library photos that begin to scroll when Apple TV is on standby. In public areas one can often see a flat-screen TV playing through a list of flat-art images--dental waiting-rooms, reception areas, concourse lounges.

Encountering such images is a bit like hearing crap piped-through music: it is music (which is something that you like) but the selection of songs is so banal and tiresome that you would rather there be none. Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen described such music as: audio pollution.

Why is it that all such photo-images encountered in this way are without exception horrendous cliches? Who makes the selections? What evidence is there that the general audience likes only (only, only, only) amateur photographer super-cheese when looking at photos for pleasure or leisure?

Such displays are instructive for the researcher into photography-and-society: this is photography at its most debased and dumbed-down; photography at its lowest ebb. The far opposite pole away from Craigie Horsfield or Thomas Struth. Photography at its hyper-popularized worst.

Such photography, and the slick-banal delivery systems used to administer it, should be mandatory objects of study for all undergraduates of photography: this is photography in the everyday. Forget the rarefied worlds of Eggleston or Lorna Simpson. Let's get real here.

(14 May 2018)