AN IMAGE OF: An Image That Looks Like Other Images
General Significant Images draws on Vilém Flusser’s concept of the technical image, which he defined as ‘…an image produced by apparatuses. As apparatuses themselves are the products of applied scientific texts, in the case of technical images one is dealing with the indirect products of scientific texts.’1 Traditionally this definition has been applied to the mechanics of camera bodies, the chemistry of film, the construction of image sensors etc. In the twenty-first century, however, we now have what I propose is a new kind of technical image (what I’ll refer to as ‘new-technical images’), that emerges from questioning how AI models are built in relation to Flusser’s following ontologies of images.
‘Ontologically, traditional images are abstractions of the first order insofar as they abstract from the concrete world while technical images are abstractions of the third order: They abstract from texts which abstract from traditional images which themselves abstract from the concrete world.‘2
These new-technical images differ ontologically in the sense that, they also include an additional abstraction of technical images themselves, which are accessed and used as data to train the AI models. New-technical images (AI-derived) are abstractions of the fourth order, whereby they abstract from texts, which abstract (primarily) from technical images which abstract from traditional images which abstract from the concrete world.
Technical images ‘…do not make the prehistoric magic contained subliminally within cheap texts [accessible by non-specialised audiences] in any way evident but replace it with a new kind of magic, i.e. the programmed kind. For this reason, they cannot reduce culture, as was intended, to the lowest common denominator but, on the contrary, they grind it up into amorphous masses. Mass culture is the result.’3
General Significant Images questions, what is the result of grinding up the already ground amorphous masses?
1 Flusser, V., 1983. Towards the philosophy of photography. London: Reaktion Books.
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