Ubiquography, the adventure of catching the theory

“Photography is determined by the presence of adventure”
(Roland Barthes)

Xavier Antich said a few months ago in La Vanguardia that “the thing about photography, whatever it’s been so far, is that it has started to be something so different from what it once was that we might even need another name for it”. This project, called Ubiquography is an invitation to be part of the new game photography has turned into. It includes immediate practice, free from complex and restraining techniques, but also an aesthetical reflection: what do we mean when we say photography?

All the artistic disciplines have, to a different extent, depended on technique. Artists are, above all, artisans in their filed (very few exceptions confirm the rule). Creation, free and inspiring, is related to a wealth of mechanical and physical knowledge. When it comes to photography, this requirement has always been even more evident and essential. How could somebody, with an original view on things but no knowledge of his camera, be a good photographer?

The exhibition, which has been built on the concept of immediacy (capture, edit, publish), confirms a turning point from old practice. With the new mobile devices and their applications and filters, one of the most dangerous barriers is overcome: self censorship. Having to take only two steps from taking the picture to publishing it might be seen as a negative thing, since it avoids an immediate process, where the photography is judged and therefore kept or rejected. However, it provides with a true exercise of creative freedom. It’s the others who will decide if your picture tells a story or not.

Ubiquography¸ which will be simultaneously held in different parts of the world, proves that the web does not decontextualize, but just the opposite. One person, one place, everywhere. It is about the idea of merging the local and the global. It is a claim of a creative self that observes the public, who shows his work to a community that is not only part of the audience, but also a critic and an artist. Once liberated from the technique –these new gadgets are very easy to use- the mobile phone user examines the world (his world) and can actively interpret it. He can re-discover it for Himself and the others. And he can try as many times as he wants to. The search is the adventure; Photography is an experiment ad eternum.

Roland Barthes, in his famous Camera Lucida, develops the twin concepts of stadium and punctium. While stadium describes the photographer’s intention and his approval or disapproval (what we call Culture), punctium makes the photograph escape formal interpretation –its predictable context-  and hurts and searches the observer. This random arrow has more chances of existing than if we had only taken care of pressing the shutter bottom. The creator focuses on the chances, not on the instruction manual.

We usually think that new technologies appear from nothing and transform our daily world over the night without warning. However, the case of structuralist and post-structuralist philosophers seems to have happened by chance. In the 60’s and 70’s many thinkers like Foucault, Deleuze or Derrida proposed a new language for a new universe of meaning, where concepts such as linearity, center, sequence or purpose were replaced by words like mutilinearity, nodes, links and nets. That is the idea developed by Steve Jobs in his speech given at the Commencement address in Stanford University in 2005: “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”.

It is obvious that nobody could guess how fast devices and the Internet would change our life, and therefore, would change creation. But there was a previous theory that outlined a possibility, a potential. Today, we are updating it. Thus, the resurgence of Polaroid cameras or lomography have preceded by chance what we understand today as iPhoneography (or any name we want to give it).

With this exhibition, Ubiquography, we claim our presence in the world, we claim to look in a particular way and to share this look. We might not talk about Photography in the traditional sense, but we can talk about Communication, with a capital letter. We can talk about the miracle of aesthetic communication, which stills moves and questions us.

Albert Lladó

Degree in Philosophy and journalist.
Editor of Revista de Letras.