The Photo Query

The photo Query is a program made for you to make a question about a particular concern that is in your mind, and to get an answer in the form of photographs, to be interpreted by you and a reader that you pick to have a conversation with.  The idea is that the reader will be someone you feel comfortable talking to.

The images come from a photo library with different photos from many subjects and places. When you open the application, it randomly gives you three rows made out of images. The first represents the past, the second the present, and the third one the future. The idea is that you pick one of each row.  Then, you create a narrative that will try to explain your concern connecting it with the image you chose, in terms of the past issues that could have taken you to the current situation. Then, the reader you picked for the reading, will give you his/her thoughts about the situation. You will then repeat the same process with the present row and the future.

After talking about the future, the reader will ask you we you didn’t picked the other images on each rows. The idea is to think if you are linking this images to ideas of things you are rejecting for some reason.

As you can see when running the program, you can only see a very limited amount of images. That is design problem caused by the P5 editor not allowing to upload more than that very limited number. Below you can see screenshots taken form the program run locally in the computer, so you can see how it is meant to work.

Why pictures?

Photography is a medium that uses the illusion of time. It collects footprints that being just a selection of a particular moment and place, creating the illusion of memory.  This images have no meaning on their own. By themselves they are only results of a technical and mechanical process. it’s each viewer that makes sense out of them. The potential  “meaning of the images” is very powerful. Only the author or authors of the images know the context and process of how the image was created. To others the pictures are some kind of riddle. When we see something we try to make sense out of it by making associations with our past experiences and knowledge. That’s why one picture is potentially a billion of pictures: it comes alive when someone looks at it and makes sense of it. An interesting aspect about human beings is the tendency to create symbols and narratives out of images, and also to use images and words to share ideas and narratives with others. As and example we can think of the use of photography as a documentation tool used by professionals in different disciplines as ethnography, anthropology, science, history, among others… The use of photography is a fascinating and rich subject, that could not be addressed even with a thousand pages book! But what is important here to mention is the contradiction in photography regarding objectivity and subjectivity. In this case we are using the potential of photography as a trigger or tool to make subjective interpretations, and not as a document that pretends to give information or point out a true fact.

Another big improvement for a future version could be a key part of this idea. It would be allowing the user to upload a photo archive of his own, previously to doing the reading. Somehow using unknown images and familiar images could be both interesting ways to trigger our unconscious and imagination to start a dialogue and analysis about a situation. It’s something that would be interesting to try.

Finally, it’s interesting for me to say how the process of collecting the images from the huge photo archive was an interesting and strong process from an emotional and rational point of view. The images triggered many thoughts, sensations and feelings that made me think about my past, my present and my future. They revealed how powerful and magical pictures can be. Magical in a more open sense than just a positive way.


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